Dude! Where’s My Gear ?? Real World Reviews of Tracker Tags

You may to go to a shoot where you won’t have your camera bag with you at all times.
Trade shows, Weddings, Events. Or in my recent experience flying back from CES, having Jet Blue insist on checking your camera bag, although it was promised to be hand checked and meeting me at the gate on the other end.
Yes, still abit sore about the situation, but as every cloud has a silver lining, this was a perfect opportunity to test out 4 different tracking devices.
They are meant to let you know when you have left something behind like a bag, phone,keys or can’t find it in your house, like your wallet.
They are not meant to be the robust “Find My Phone” type operations.
Essentially, if you are 150 ft, from your property, the system either beeps or, in the case of a couple of these, will send you a notification on your phone.

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I tried the Trackr, The Tile, XY, and Duet. All about the size of a quarter, battery operated, only one, The Tile, can’t have the battery changed by the user.
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Slipping the 4 into the back pouch of the ThinkTank Photo Airport International, I was ready to go.
The results were not what I expected.

In general, while shooting on the trade floor at CES (39 football fields of material) I did some video interviews where I was given a booth tour while shooting an interview. My main equipment bag was not close to me.
In this case, 2 of the units did the job they were meant to do. Let me know I was possibly too far away from my gear.
What I learned was that the most useful operation for a tracking device, was a separation notification. Something that would send me a message on my phone letting me know I was out of range, or in range of the tracker, and consequently, my gear.
The Tile was a bust. No notification, and the location specifics were not very precise when i tried it manually.
Trackr, who has been marketing like crazy, had some intermittent success, and still trying to work out a simple setup to be useful.
The 2 main winners were units that I had not seen or heard about before the show:
The Duet, which sent me messages when the bag was out of range, and again in range.
The XY was just a bit better for this reason:
Back to the Jet Blue story- As I ended up being boarded last (found out they board from the back of the plane first), there was no more room for my gear bag in the overhead. They insisted on checking the bag, although assured me it would be handled with care and not tossed around. Very nerve racking.
As I thought about the gear bag for the 6 hour flight home, I expected it to be waiting for me when I deplaned.
It wasn’t.
The person at the gate understood my concern and started to make calls to see exactly where my bag was.
After a few minutes, I got a text from the XY tracker, telling me the bag was back in range and with 150 ft. In short order, it was back in my hands.
That situation alone gave me the confidence in the product.
Honestly, the Duet started to send me txts as well, but the XY was first.
Your results may vary, but this was meant as a real world test.
4 units from 4 different companies, were set up with each specific app downloaded and ready.
All I had to do was work as usual. Keeping an eye on your gear can be tough, and this is no insurance. BUT the XY and Duet did what I wanted them to do: let me know when my gear was too far out of reach.
I’m sure that the other companies will upgrade the apps, and upgrade the products.
It’s bluetooth, and not a prefect science.
Right now, the 2 are the units I’d recommend are the XY Tracker and The Duet

There is one other tracking device that gets deep into the weeds, with a yearly subscription service, and primarily for tracking your luggage so you know when it’s in Chicago when you land in Atlanta. Still waiting to test, but it’s a constantly upgrading unit.
Called the TrakDot, it’s actually less expensive ordering direct that from Amazon, about $50 for the unit, and $20 yearly subscription fee.

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