by Eric Ravenscraft on
When a single Wi-Fi router won’t do, a mesh Wi-Fi system lets you get strong coverage everywhere in your house without tearing your walls apart. These are our favorites.
There’s no shortage of Bluetooth trackers on the market, but the vast majority of them are chunky key fob like affairs. The Orbit Card, on the other hand, is scarcely thinner than a credit card and perfect for putting practically anywhere (your wallet included).
If you’re unfamiliar with the Bluetooth tracker product category, here’s a quick summary. In most cases the limited range of Bluetooth is a downside (we’d all love for our wireless Bluetooth headphones to work at the farthest reaches of our yard for instance). In the case of Bluetooth trackers, however, the limitations of Bluetooth are their strength—when the tracker and the parent device (your smartphone) are too far apart to communicate then your smartphone alerts you that the tagged item is missing and you should look for it.
Because the range of the Bluetooth used in the tracker is around 100 feet or so, this means you get an alert that you’ve left your wallet in your gym locker before you even get outside the gym. That’s vastly superior to making the discovery when you go to pay for gas 20 minutes later or, worse yet, when you’ve driven all the way home and the gym is closed for the night.
The key to this system working well though a tracker that is small enough you’ll keep it with the object you want to keep track of, a good battery life, and good software to link the tracker. Great trackers even add functionality on top of that basic beep-when-separated gig. After testing the Orbit Card for a few weeks, we’re happy to report back that it really nails the basics and even offers a bonus feature you won’t find on similar products.
There’s no shortage of trackers on the market that are best suited for key chains, backpack pockets, or other areas where it doesn’t matter if the tracker isn’t teeny tiny.
If you want to track your wallet or you don’t want a lot of bulk in your bag, though, you’ll want an ultra thin tracker and that’s the Orbit Card’s whole claim to fame. It’s super tiny and only takes up about as much room as two credit cards stacked atop each other. It’s so small that the included charging cable looks massive by comparison.
Speaking of charging, the improvements in battery technology and the increasing miniaturization of electronic components will never stop amazing us. As noted in the previous section the Orbit Card is barely bigger than two credit cards but it holds enough juice to run for months. Months!
Not only is that pretty incredible (during the entire duration of our multi-week testing of the device we barely put a dent in the battery life) but it puts the Orbit Card in a class beyond other compact Bluetooth trackers because you don’t have to replace it when it runs out of juice. Other products like the Tile might boast a year long battery life, but when the battery dies you have to actually replace the product.
When you do finally need to charge the card, just clip the included alligator-style charging clip onto the corner of the card (there are two tiny little contact points that are easy to line up) and let it charge for a few hours. After that you’re good to go for another few months.
The form factor is great, the battery life is great, but the real core of the tracker experience is the software interface and connection between the tracker and the phone.
In that regard, the Orbit Card and the accompanying Orbit software really shines. Setup is simple and just requires you to download the software (available for iOS and Android), authorize the software to use location data (it needs to know where you are after all to record where it last saw the tracker), and you’re in business.
When you get too far from your tracker, you’ll get an alert on your phone with the last known location of the tracking card. Need to locate it? No problem, press the “Find Orbit Card” button and it’ll start chirping loudly. How a device twice the thickness of a credit card can produce that much noise is a mystery, but it’s very loud. On the reverse side of things, you can use your card to find your phone. Press and hold the flat blister-style button on the card and if your phone is in range it’ll start screaming too.
In our field testing of the device the pairing and alerts functioned flawlessly and we consistently were alerted by our phone when we were ~70-100 feet from the “lost” tracker.
The final feature we’ll highlight is actually our favorite feature, despite it not being the primary function of the device. If you open the Orbit app there’s a built-in camera function that can be triggered by the blister button on the tracker card.
The chances of you losing your wallet are much lower than the chances of you wanting to snap a group shot with your camera phone so we’re particularly pleased with the selfie-button function. You can use the forward or rear facing camera and the button works at the same range as the Orbit Card’s tracking functions (perfect for getting a huge groupshot where your phone is propped up half a parking lot away).
If the Orbit Card—with its slim form factor, excellent battery life, and bonus selfie-button feature—sounds like just the sort of gadget you’re looking for, you can pick one up directly from the Orbit website for $39.99.
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