by Andi Sykes
December 23, 2016
Ever lost anything? Then you'll want to read Andi's review of the TrackR Bravo - a small device that'll help you track down your valuables.
Our ‘social gubbins and technology’ guru Andi spends some intimate time with the crowdfunded TrackR er, tracker.
The TrackR Bravo started out as a crowd-funded project on Indiegogo. It did very well too. The project rapidly achieved its rather humble initial funding target, and it went on to smash that target by over 6000%, with over $1.7million committed by keen backers. The start-up behind the project used the funds to develop the app, pay for tooling and other development work. With funding over, the TrackR has since become available online through Amazon, Ebay and a few high-street stores such as Argos and John Lewis.
TrackR Bravo – Hardware
The TrackR Bravo is a slim and elegant tracking device. It’s designed to easily attach to a keychain, onto a flat surface via an included 3M sticky pad, or alternatively, you can simply slide it snuggly away into your wallet, pocket or any other orifice you so desire…
TrackR has used metal for the main body of the Bravo (available in silver, blue, pink or black) using a single piece of material folded in two to form a small loop (for attaching to your keyring) and making the front and rear of the device. Sandwiched in between the metal faces is a black plastic body where all the technological gubbins and sorcery are located.
It’s worthwhile mentioning that unlike similar tracking devices, the Bravo features a removable battery. This is great on one hand as it means you can use the little gadget for years to come, but on the other hand, it means the device isn’t waterproof and you will need an additional accessory pack to keep water out.
Even with the large C1616 battery, the overall diameter of the Bravo is just 30mm with a thickness of only 3.5mm, but there’s still enough room inside for a Bluetooth module, a push button (for syncing and ringing your phone) and a 92db speaker.
TrackR Bravo – Features and App
Like everything these days, the TrackR Bravo relies on being paired to your smartphone via the official application (only iOS and Android phones are supported). Pairing the TrackR is super simple. Just press the button on the front of the device, wait for the Bravo to show up in your phone’s available Bluetooth devices and done. Once your phone and TrackR have made friends you then have the option to choose from a list of profiles, such as ‘keys’, ‘laptop’, ‘drone’, ‘cat’, or ‘very expensive push-bike’.
The main feature and the one most of us will be attracted to, is the ability to track your belongings. This ‘tracking’ feature even gives you a “last seen” location on a map, and a signal strength indicator that increases the nearer you get to the unit. What’s really clever though is the ‘Crowd GPS’ feature. TrackR can anonymously ping anyone else who has the application installed on their smartphone. So even if the Bravo loses connection with your phone, it will connect to every other phone (as long as the TrackR app is installed) and update its location.
Looking at the TrackR website we can see that coverage for the UK appears to be really good, but around Singletrack Towers here in the quaint village of Todmorden, there are only a few Crowd GPS users (see above). Larger cities (see Manchester below) offer greater coverage and we can see the Trackr working well in these situations.
This was fine when the TrackR stayed in the office, but as soon as it made it’s way onto the bustling high street it could no longer be seen or heard.
Still, even without ‘Crowd GPS’ there are some other features in the Bravo App that we found useful. As already mentioned there is a signal strength indicator which you can use to track down the Bravo as long as it’s still connected to Bluetooth (a range of 50ft). You know those moments where you’re about to head out the door but you can’t find the keys? There’s a good chance they’ll be nearby, but that doesn’t help when you’re still rummaging through all your crap 20 minutes later. In this scenario, the Bravo device is ideal. Providing it’s attached to your keychain, you can flick open your phone to locate it. And if that’s not enough, you also have the option to ‘ring’ the Bravo and simply follow the sound.
During our tests, we found that 92db speaker to be fine if the Bravo wasn’t covered, as soon as it’s covered it can be quite difficult to hear. Trying to ‘ring’ our Ad Manager Ross when he had forgotten it was in his pocket didn’t become the annoying prank which we hoped as he simply didn’t hear it. The call option works in the opposite direction too, meaning that if you have lost your phone you can ‘ring’ it from the TrackR (even if you have left your phone on silent).
Delve even deeper into the settings and you will find “Separation Alerts”. `This basically offers the same “Item Ringer” function as above but it will automatically set the devices ringing if you move out of a certain range. This means if you leave your TrackR behind on a desk or at the bar your phone will alert you. This feature also works in reverse too i.e leave your phone behind and the Bravo’s alarm will ring. Very, very clever!
Separation Alerts can also be automatically muted via “Wi-Fi Safe Zones” based on the WIFI network you are connected too. This is an extremely useful feature that means I can walk around Singletrack Towers without the TrackR beeping every time I leave my phone at my desk.
TrackR Bravo – Conclusion
The TrackR Bravo isn’t a GPS-based location tool so don’t go thinking you can whack this on to your bike like James Bond and follow it about. What it does do though is give you a super fast way of locating your items around the home via a simple beep, and (if you are in an area populated by TrackR users) a rough location of where your belongings might be. This could potentially mean being able to relocate your bike if it was to be stolen.
TrackR has put some great thought behind their product and I believe it is a nice little gadget for anyone forgetful enough to lose their keys, wallet, phone etc on a regular basis. I wouldn’t really recommend the Bravo for bicycle use though. The number of ‘Crowd GPS’ users would have to increase quite significantly to make it effective, and a sealed waterproof design would also be preferable.
Pricing is also something to consider. A single TrackR Bravo will cost you up to £24.99 however if you hunt about a pack of four can be found on Ebay for just £49.99.
For more information head over to the Trackr.com website.