We’ve all done it. “Where are my keys?” “My wallet was right here” (I thought). “Anybody seen the TV remote?”
Losing track of small objects is a fact of life. And until recently, finding keys, wallets, a camera, and similar items could become a frantic search, only exacerbated by time pressure (I have to find my keys so I can leave for work.)
Leaving aside the argument of “a place for everything and everything in its place” – some people just aren’t ‘wired’ that way, technology has given us an easy way to locate small objects. The answer is a small device connected to your smart phone via Bluetooth. A free app for your iPhone or Android phone will activate the tracking device, causing it to make a continuous audible signal.
Tile v. TrackR
There are two major players in the market today: Tile (thetileapp.com) and TrackR (thetrackr.com). Both devices perform essentially the same function and work similarly. Additionally, both devices are similarly priced.
After purchasing the device, you download a free app for your smart phone. The device is then paired to the phone via Bluetooth. During the pairing process, you can give the device a name which helps you to remember which device is attached to an item. You can pair more than one tracking device to a phone.
Beyond the basic device, both Tile and TrackR come is a thinner version, great for placement in wallets or similar items. Both devices also some packaged with a piece of double-sided tape for affixing the device to items for which a key ring attachment isn’t practical.
Additionally, both Tile and TrackR allow you to do a ‘reverse find’. By pressing a button on a paired tracking device (on your keyring, for example), the device will cause your smart phone to emit an audible sound – even if the phone is set to silent mode.
However, at this point, the devices differ. I have use both and I find the TrackR to be a far superior choice. The point of a tracker device is to allow you to locate a missing item while itself being as small and innocuous as possible. (Sure, you could attach a spare smart phone to your keys and accomplish the same thing, but that would really defeat the idea.)
Here, the TrackR is superior. It is smaller, thinner, and lighter than the Tile.
Additionally, I like the TrackR because:
- It is made of aluminum. The Tile device is a relatively large plastic square.
- It produces a louder tone. This has been a problem with Tile. It is beeping, but you had to be within a very few feet to hear it. Tile has been improving this feature, but I still feel that TrackR is louder.
- Finally, and this is huge, the TrackR’s battery is replaceable. It uses a flat watch battery obtainable almost anywhere. Conversely, the Tile is a seal unit. When the battery runs down – typically after about one year – you throw the whole device away and purchase a replacement. Tile does offer a reduced rate for replacement devices, but that price is still several times the cost of a battery.
* Tile has recently released the TileMate, which is similar in size to the TrackR. However, it still does not address the issue of battery accessibility.
Based on the information above and my personal experience with both brands, I unhesitatingly recommend TrackR as the better device. But in either case, I recommend you get three or four such devices so you never again have to ask, “Where are my keys?”