It’s getting more and more difficult these days to distinguish between the different GPS trackers on the market. These devices come in all shapes and sizes and are targeted at various different user bases—but all pretty much seem to provide the same basic core functionality, not the least of which is to track your location. That being said, the notion of a “great” GPS tracking device becomes highly subjective in the eye of the beholder—but there are a few ways to distinguish what could be a good fit for your particular needs.
Say, for example, you simply wanted a device that could send basic status notifications and action alerts, yet sleek enough so that it was not apparent the user was actually using the device. A good example is the eTrak GPS Tracking Device from eTrak Corp., which I had the chance to try out recently. This device is part of a full line from the company that also includes PetTrak and CarTrak—which are rather self explanatory in their target base.
The eTrak falls sort of into that catch-all category of being ideally suited to track many different things. But judging by its size—1” x 2”—and its weight—less than one ounce—the appeal of the eTrak, in my opinion, is for attaching it to your keychain or slipping it right in your pocket or purse to add some peace of mind.
Allow me to explain. I can envision looping this compact tracker on to your child’s keychain and sending them off to school. Or perhaps you have it on a loved one’s keychain in case emergency. The device was originally developed for children and adults with special needs, so you can say it was built for such critical tracking scenarios.
The emergency aspect comes into play with the panic button on the device, which with a click of the button sends an alert via email, SMS, or both (depending on how you set up the notifications) regarding the event. In fact, you can choose to send SMS alerts to up to two designated mobile devices, yet unlimited email addresses.
During my test I did this on more than one occasion and received the following alert via email:
We want to let you know that the Panic Button was pressed on your eTrak device, My Device. This means that the person with this device pressed the panic button and held it for three seconds. Click here to view more details.
This could be an emergency. Please consider the following:
- Call 911 if you think that this is a real emergency. You can get the nearest address of the last reported location here. This information may be helpful for dispatchers.
- Contact the person with the device to see if this is a real emergency.
- Track the user’s latest location here or on the mobile application.
According to the company, eTrak uses proprietary GPS+ hybrid technology, which allows the device to perform more precise and consistent alert notifications and location tracking.
Here is a bit more information about that aspect: Rather than strictly using GPS for location tracking, eTrak combines Wi-Fi mapping, cell tower triangulation, and GPS in order to provide a more accurate position location. As the company describes it, its products are not line-of-sight dependent and by combining these multiple technologies can pinpoint accurate as close as 10 feet, day or night, indoors or out.
Like with many tracking devices, eTrak also allows you to set up some geofence alerts. In the case of eTrak, the company calls this its “Safety Circle” allowing you to draw a boundary circle around multiple addresses, and if the devices enters or exists the zone it automatically sends the proper notification alerts. What I found interesting about the way in which eTrak does this is that along with the alert you also receive information about the location via an online map. It also gives you turn-by turn directions to the location, which can be of definite value in the case of the panic button option I mentioned earlier.
Down to the details, the device costs $129.95 and requires a monthly subscription, which ranges between $8 and $15. The battery life during my trial seemed adequate—the company claims it is up to seven days under normal use, and I can say that it was along that timeframe for certain.
The company says this extended battery life is partially due to the fact it does not strictly use GPS, but rather the hybrid technology I mentioned earlier. I purposely let it run down a few times in order to trigger the text alert telling me to charge the device.
All in all, I would recommend that if you are looking for a straight-forward, simple-to-use tracking device for your loved ones to give the eTrak a try. The price point seems reasonable and of course you can download an app (iOS or Android) to enhance the tracking capabilities as well. As the wearable movement continues to take over our lives, having one with particular function, such as tracking, seems to be a good idea.