The Trackr Bravo is a small watch battery sized Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) device that promises to help you locate your lost or misplaced items. The device costs about $US29 each and you attach it to your keys, put it in a bag, wallet or anything else you may want to locate (think pet collar).
You can use the Trackr apps to locate the item on a map and make it ring (if you are within Bluetooth range). You can also press the tiny button on the Trackr and make the app ring (even if the phone is set to silent) to locate it.
The final trick the Trackr Bravo can perform is initiating a separation alarm (if you enable it). As an example, you can set the separation alarm to on when in a restaurant so if you walk away without your keys, it will ring.
The last promise Trackr makes is that if you do lose an item and it comes within range of any other user with the Trackr app open (even in the background), you get a location ping for your lost device.
Its main competitor is the Tile and I'll also draw some comparisons.
Let's get physical
I bought a 3 pack from Best Buy Canada for $50 (was on special - regular price was $79). It is a small plastic disc that measures 1.2 inches in diameter and is 0.2 inches thick. It weighs a mere 0.3 ounces.
It is smaller and lighter than the Tile.
The Trackr Bravo has a small ring on top to attach it to a keyring and comes with round double sided tape if you want to attach it to something like a bicycle or other belonging.
There is a Trackr logo on one side (in the middle) and a small pairing / alert button under it.
I paired it with my trusty iPhone 6s Plus using the Trackr apps and it took all of 30 seconds.
The device is expected to run for one year on the included CR1616 battery (which is user replaceable). Unfortunately my 6 Trackr Bravos came with dead batteries. I sent a support request via email (following the directions on their site) and never received a reply.
This is my first big issue. I sent them a tweet and 2 emails. Nothing. So I bought replacement batteries from Amazon which cost me $20 (for 10 batteries). This was my first annoyance. We are not over 1.5 months since I made my support requests providing proof of purchase and I have not received a response.
The apps did not warn me that the batteries were low (even though it does provide battery level in the device settings tab). I was able to paid my devices but they soon stopped responding. This is problematic if you batteries are low when you misplace or lose your item.
Tile does not allow you to replace the batteries but does warn you when the batteries are running low.
Because the Trackr has a user replaceable battery, it is not waterproof. My 3 pack included a plastic sleeve to make it more water resistant but this is a cheap flimsy plastic and my wife's Trackr fell out somewhere (before I had a chance to replace its battery) and we couldn't find it. How ironic. We lost the Trackr which is supposed to help us find lost items.
The separation alert (if enabled) does warn you if one of the paired items goes missing. I had a trackr in my wallet and enabled separation alert. When I purposely left the wallet with a friend and walked away in a restaurant, the alarm on my phone rang. The opposite also worked. I took my wallet and left my phone, my wallet started ringing.
Here is my second problem with The Trackr Bravo : The alarm is very weak.
There is an alarm and it does work but you may have trouble hearing it in a noisy restaurant. You can also set a custom alert tone using any MP3 on your device.
The Tile has a much louder alarm that makes locating lost items easier.
If you press the black pairing button the Trackr, it will sound the alarm on your phone (to help you locate it) and you can ring the trackr token from your phone's Trackr App.
As a test, a colleague hid my keys somewhere in the office (which is large enough to be out of bluetooth range). As soon as I opened the app, it showed me the last location if key the Trackr token was in but showed it greyed out (aka out of range). The bottom of the map screen shows the Bluetooth strength which is used to indicate how close or far the token is from the phone.
The Tile and Trackr are about the same here but the Tile has a more granular strength meter which is more useful.
As I walked around the office (and got closer to my token) the app started to show I was getting closer and switched the dull grey location to a green one. I then force the alarm (using the app) and I heard it sound but it was so low I had trouble identifying the location.
The Trackr says the alarm is 85db but it sounds much more muted to me. The Tile has a 90 db alarm but the sound is sharper and easier to identify.
I know the trackr website says a community of trackr users will help me find my lost items but I couldn't figure out how this works. A tweet requesting clarification just said "It works automatically". What does that mean? How? How do I ask the network of user to "search" for my lost item. Not much information is provided and Twitter support was less than useful. Again an email to support requesting help for this feature went unanswered. Surprise... Surprise...
Having used it for close to 1.5 months and having shared it with family, what do I think? It is worth the investment? The idea is good and I love the fact the battery is user replaceable but it had a tone of shortcomings.
My biggest complaint is the lack of response from support. Why did I have to buy replacement batteries for something I just picked up? Why is documentation so scarce and features like the global lost and found not clear?
The alarm is low and the location information is often too wishy washy to be useful. They have a home pluggable device called the Atlas which is supposed to help you locate the tokens with more accuracy but I couldn't get my hands on one to test it.
If you check out the Amazon reviews from verified buyers, you will see that many echo the same complaints I had. Poor battery life. Poor support. Low alarm. Slow reconnect when you do get close to the token. So my conclusion is to pass on The Trackr Bravo. Maybe the next iteration will be good enough to justify the $US29 price tag but this version certainly isn't.