Thanks to some useful new tech, items gone missing around the house or office can announce their locations with chirpy ditties — as long as they have Bluetooth trackers attached and you’re close enough to hear the trackers’ songs.
Chipolo Plus, a new Bluetooth tracker, boats the loudest audio output of all its competitors, at 100 decibels (dB), according to a company spokesperson. (Curiously, Chipolo’s website claims only 90 decibels). To trigger the sound, you simply locate your tagged item in the Chipolo mobile app and push the “ring” button. In comparison, popular rival tracker Tile Slim’s ringtone is 82 dB, and Tile Mate’s audio reaches 88 dB. TrackR bravo, another similar tracker, reportedly goes up to 92 dB. (Chipolo, Tile and TrackR bravo trackers cost between $25 and $30 each, with volume discounts available.)
So can you tell the difference between those dB levels? In my tests, I could indeed hear Chipolo Plus a little bit better than the other trackers, though the difference is subtle. However, every little bit helps if you’re frantically searching for car keys.
Chipolo Plus also claims to have twice the Bluetooth range (200 feet) of Tile and TrackR. And you can use the tracker to remotely snap selfies on a connected smartphone. Both TrackR bravo and Chipolo Plus are available in multiple colors, but Chipolo Plus comes in seven shades compared to TrackR bravo’s four.
Like Tile Mate and TrackR bravo, Chipolo Plus attaches to a key ring. (Tile Slim has no key hole and is meant for use in a wallet or similar item.) Also like the Tile products, you can’t replace Chipolo Plus’s internal battery. When the Chipolo and Tile batteries expire after about one year, you throw them away and (presumably) buy a replacement. You can, however, replace TrackR bravo’s coin battery.
Chipolo user community is smallest
Each of the trackers have a community of users who can help locate missing items when they are out of Bluetooth range, at least in theory. If you lose your Chipolo Plus, for example, you can mark it as lost in its mobile app. “When anyone running the app comes within Bluetooth range of your Chipolo, you will receive an alert notifying you of the location of your Chipolo,” according to the company.
Chipolo’s community is relatively small, with just a million users, compared to 5 million for Tile and 3.5 million for TrackR, so the odds of someone triggering a Chipolo alert for you are lower than if you used a Tile or TrackR. The trackers’ mobile apps all also show items’ last known locations on a map.
Is Chipolo Plus, Tile or TrackR right for you?
I’ve only used Chipolo Plus for about a week, but so far I like the look and size of the device. Its mobile app is simple and intuitive, and the tracker is loud enough to be a worthy addition to your keychain. Howeve, it is not notably better or worse than Tile or TrackR bravo, so the best option for you likely has to do with looks and form factor, rather than function.
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.