With GPS hardware built right into our smartphones and other mobile devices, we often take for granted how important location tracking has become in our daily lives. The utilities of GPS go far beyond navigating to the nearest restaurant as it allows us to track people, automobiles, pets and almost everything else.
You cannot just hook up a smartphone to a car permanently in order to track the vehicle, luggage, children etc. That’s what dedicated GPS trackers are meant for and provide the technology you need to track stuff you value the most.
Things to Consider when Buying a GPS Tracker
Price vs. Features
Depending on the features you want, price of a dedicated GPS tracker can reach the level of a flagship smartphone. Portable trackers are the best bet when you are looking for a great balance between price and performance. One should also consider the costs involved in subscribing to tracking services as only a GPS device might not be enough for all situations.
Most plant-and-forget devices can easily be hidden away and offer pretty decent battery life. But you have to consider the battery type and capacity if you plan on using the device without charging it for long periods of time. A typical tracker battery can last for up to two weeks on a single charge so keeping that in mind helps make a better decision.
Ease of Installation
Most of us would not prefer modifying our vehicles and assets to accommodate a GPS tracker. The ease of installation of portable or mini GPS trackers make them an excellent choice in most situations. The good news is that there is no shortage of small portable GPS trackers that do not require you to modify your vehicle or asset and can be installed pretty easily.
Value-packed Real-time Portable Mini GPS Trackers
You need a dedicated GPS tracker when you want to keep track of something you value like your vehicle or even a pet. However, the market is flooded with a ton of GPS devices, making it difficult for users to pick the right one. This guide focuses on real-time portable GPS trackers and aims to make it easier for prospective buyers to find the right product according to their budget and requirements.
Compatible with OBDII ports, MOTOsafety OBD is a multi-purpose tracking device that not only allows you to monitor driving activities using Google Maps, but can also serve as a teen driving educator. For $19.99 per month, you can also activate the 3G service that provides nationwide car tracking coverage (available in the US, Canada and Mexico).
Since the device directly connects to Google Maps, it provides accurate tracking information in real-time, while movement can easily be monitored using the free mobile app. Customizable geo-fencing allows users to set different parameters and automatically sends email/text alerts when a vehicle or asset leaves the specified parameters.
The $19.99 monthly plan offers great value for the money and there are no contracts or cancellation fees involved. This makes the device a great option for people looking for a reliable, yet affordable tracker for their cars and other types of vehicles. The device is also available as a wired solution, but it costs almost double the price of the regular OBD device.
- Google Maps based, accurate and real-time info
- Teen driving tracking and reporting
- 3G service for nationwide coverage @ $19.99/month
- Free tracking mobile apps
- Daily report cards
- Curfew hours
The Spy Tec STI GL300 is another capable GPS tracker for vehicles that can also serve as a personal tracker. You can easily stick it in luggage and control the device using the mobile app. It works with Google Maps and provides easily understandable location of assets. You’d have to create an account with the manufacturer to use the app after which you can configure the tracker in a matter of a few minutes.
Setting geographical parameters is easy using the geo-fencing features of the app, including the time when an asset is allowed at a particular location. An email/text is sent whenever an asset crosses those predefined parameters.
At 2.7 inches, the device is almost the size of a flip-phone and only weighs 2 ounces, making it highly portable. However, the device is not rated as waterproof so you’d want to protect it against spills or rain when outdoors (you can buy M2 Waterproof Magnetic Case). The $25/month subscription fee includes 5-second location updates, while there are no cancellation fees or long-term contracts.
- 5-second location updates for tracking of fast-moving objects
- Automatic alerts
- Built-in accelerometer
- Battery rated to provide up to 2 weeks of backup
- 30-day hassle-free returns
The GL300W comes with first two months of service, making it ideal for people who just want a tracking device for a short time period. The app saves the tracking data for about a year, saving users from having to log everything themselves. Service charges start at $25/month, while discounts are also available if customers buy more time.
The pricing is same for 10-second and 30-second updates so users don’t have to worry if they only need faster and more precise tracking info (at the cost of less battery life). The device can be configured for different update intervals in seconds i.e. 60, 30 and 10 seconds.
- One year historical data
- 3G capable
- First two months service included
- Email notifications
- Works great for users who need a device for a short time
4. Optimus 2.0
Optimus 2.0 is available at a $19.95/month subscription and in addition to the highly portable design it also offers some advanced features. The user-friendly Android and iOS apps make it super easy for all types of users to set different parameters and configure everything. The device can be used to track almost anything from vehicles to people and other items.
The subscription plan includes SIM card and data plan, while the device is FCC and PTCRB certified. Detailed driving reports, geo-fencing, speed monitoring and low-battery reports are some of the key features of the device, while a dedicated SOS button works well in emergency situations.
- 30-second updates, upgradable to 10-second
- Customizable position reports
- Email/text alerts
- SIM card and data plan included
- Special routing features
- SOS button
- Unlimited historical data
- 1-2 week battery life
The smart wearable tracker is essentially a safety device that enables users to keep connected with their loved ones. It’s super easy to use the Personal Panic Button as a single click shares location saying “I’m Okay”, while double click creates a “Yellow Alert” and sends location and message of ‘feeling unsafe’. 3 clicks mean an emergency and send the GPS location along with emergency alert.
Users can customize messages for all alert levels and can even set the clicks to ring their phone if they are unable to find it. The device can be used without any fee or monthly subscriptions, but an optional subscription allows users to connect with 911 immediately and costs $9.99/month.
- Personal panic button
- Customizable messages
- No fees or subscription
- Optional 911 service
- Can be attached to clothing or keyring
- Up to 6 month battery life (replaceable CR2 battery)
- Smartphone sync
AMERICALOC GL300W works well if you plan on using the tracker for just a short time as it comes with first two months of service. MOTOsafety OBD serves a specific purpose and is recommended if you specifically want a OBDII compatible vehicle tracker. Both Optimus 2.0 and Spy Tec STI GL300 work well for a variety of purposes and are recommended if you are looking for an all-rounder portable mini GPS tracking device. Revolar Instinct Personal Safety Device is suitable if you want to keep your loved ones updated and alert them of any emergency situation without having to carry a bulky tracker all the time.