Bluetooth Low Energy Tags aka BLE trackers

 

A question on a forum I visit led to me investigating BLE trackers which were new to me.

These are not the same thing as the more expensive (and more verasitle) GPS trackers. They have no GPS chip installed and are simply short range devices you can use to locate lost keys and the like or from the tag get your phone to ring. I am a little prone to mislaying my keys although I have never completely lost them so these seemed to be an update on the old clap-and-beep tags which could be useful to me.

Looking around I found rather up market ones at £20 upwards which offered slightly more functionality in that others running the same phone app in range of your tag could log its whereabouts. I figured the odds against that happening in the places I go to be unlikely in the extreme plus my usual trick is to put the keys down somewhere other than their usual place at home so the simple tags would do for me. An additional shortcoming of some tags was a non-replaceable battery making the operating costs high.



I saw that there were a lot of very cheap tags on eBay showing pictures like this…

Bluetooth low energy tracker tag

Cheap Bluetooth low energy tracker tags as sold on eBay

I bought a set of 5 for £6.70 from Thailand. They arrived in about 10 days. On arrival 3 had flat batteries but two started up OK so I ordered some new batteries off eBay.

The two that started up went flat overnight so I fitted them with a couple of batteries I already had.

They seemed to work OK with the specified app at first but then started to beep at random for no obvious reason. Then one showed as disconnected and wouldn’t reconnect. The other didn’t sound when the alarm was triggered from the app. In short they were totally unreliable.

The new batteries arrived and thinking that maybe the ones I’d had already might be duff as they came from a pound shop card bought some indeterminate time ago I replaced them. Things were no better with the new batteries so I initaited an eBay return and received a refund with no questions the next day.

It may be that some of the cheap tags do work but my advice has to be to not waste your time with these things. Whether or not you consider the more expensive ones given their limitations is up to you.