GPS TRACKER BUYER’S GUIDE
If you were to talk to someone from 20 years ago, there’s plenty in the modern world that would sound like science fiction to them. The ubiquity of GPS — a network of satellites, being freely used by ordinary people every day — would certainly be among them. Yet here we are. If you’ve ever used smartphone navigation, then you’ve seen the technology in action.
What Are GPS Trackers? Who Are They For?
Just as the name implies, a GPS tracker — get ready for it — tracks movement via the global positioning system. Sometimes called active trackers, live GPS, or real-time trackers, these transmit from the device, letting you know where it is in real-time.
There’s also GPS loggers, also known as passive trackers, which can receive information from GPS satellites, but can’t transmit on their own. Users can then download the information at a later time. Some GPS trackers can also log details for later download, letting the user decide based on their current needs.
From small households to massive corporations, GPS trackers see use in myriad different applications, such as:
- Documenting use of company vehicles
- Finding lost pets
- Tracking teenagers’ driving habits
- Fleet management (car rental, delivery vehicles, etc.)
- Law enforcement and private investigation
- Elderly care
... and so on. From entrepreneurs to parents — and everyone in between — people from all walks of life use GPS trackers every day.
Identifying Your Needs
Deciding which GPS tracker to buy really comes down to your situation. Are you managing a fleet of vehicles? Trying to keep tabs on a new pet with an adventurous streak? Looking for details on how often your employees — or child — is speeding when they drive your vehicle?
Once you have a good idea of what you’ll be using it for, sorting through the different features becomes much easier.
What Features Do You Need?
Like anything that falls under the blanket of spy gear, GPS trackers have their own terminology, and it can be a bit confusing if you’re new to it. No worries: this stuff is pretty simple once you get down to it. Understanding the different features is crucial for finding the right GPS tracker for your needs: but we’ll get to those in a second. For now, let’s go through what features you should look for in a GPS tracker.
- GPS Connection
It might go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: your GPS tracker needs to be able to connect to the global positioning system. 3G is fairly common, and for most users, it should be more than enough for your needs. That said, 4G improves on its predecessor in speed and quantity of data transmission: not to mention future-proofing your investment against changing technology standards.
Some trackers can also use LBS (local cell towers) and WiFi to ensure coverage, and cut down on expenses. But even with these, you’ll need to acquire a SIM card from a provider for the unit to function. Many providers add a subscription-based service fee on top of this, but at the Spy Store, we don’t pull that kind of stunt: you won’t see hidden subscription costs with our GPS trackers.
- Tracking Software
Products like the waterproof TK20G 3G Car GPS Tracker include free GPS tracking software, letting you see where your tracker is anytime, anywhere via web service or free app. Some, like the Jimi Hardwired GPS Tracker, can send you SMS or push notifications, giving you up-to-the-minute information.
- Wired Or Portable?
Wired trackers— like the 3G Jimi Hardwired GPS Tracker — are difficult to remove, less likely to be detected, and offer powerful options like remotely cutting off the vehicle’s fuel and power. Of course, they can’t be used on something that isn’t an automobile, and installation can take a while.
On the other side of the spectrum, something like the 3-in-1 3G Mini GPS Tracker is a crazy versatile piece of spy gear: equally at home on a pet’s collar, or magnetically attached to a boat or shipping container. So it pays to think about the ways you’ll want to use your GPS tracker ahead of time.
Geofencing is the act of designating areas as either safe or prohibited, and informing you when the device crosses over them. So if a vehicle strongly deviates from its route, or a pet has made their way off your property, you can be instantly notified, and act accordingly. Plenty of our GPS trackers — even the diminutive Mini GPS Tracker — offer this feature, so make sure you take advantage of it.
- Status Alerts
In an emergency, speed matters. A wired solution like the Jimi Hardwired GPS Tracker can give all kinds of notifications: overspeed alerts for when a speed threshold is crossed, ignition, even vibration such as in a car crash. Externally mounted trackers like the Heavy Duty 3G GPS Tracker can also provide overspeed and shock notifications, as well as tampering/removal notifications should the device be interfered with.
- Battery Life
How long do you want to go between charging? Wired solutions circumvent this issue by drawing power from the vehicle itself, but for portable GPS trackers, it helps to know how long your battery’s going to last. Something like the Magnetic Slim 3G GPS Tracker — with 30 days of constant operation and 80 days of standby life — means you don’t have to worry about whether or not your GPS tracker is charged.
- Theft Prevention
If your vehicle is ever stolen, you need to act fast. Having a GPS connected is a fantastic way to cooperate with local authorities to retrieve your vehicle: but an even better option is to remotely cut fuel and power to the vehicle. While this is obviously beyond the range of a portable GPS, wired GPS trackers such as the Jimi Hardwired GPS Tracker can not only cut fuel and power, they have a built-in safety to keep this from happening at higher speeds: dramatically reducing the chance of causing an accident.
If your GPS tracker is going to spend its life exposed to the elements, you’ll want something that can stand up to rough conditions, such as the IP67 waterproof Heavy Duty 3G GPS Tracker (IP ratings describe how resistant something is. For a more detailed description see here: for our purposes, just know that higher = better).
Horse trailers, boats, and your daily driver are regularly subjected to dust and moisture: so if you plan on putting your GPS tracker through that kind of situation, be sure to get one that can take the pressure.
- Personal Alarm
If you’re looking for a GPS tracker for use with a loved one, such as elderly parents or a young child, then it’s worth considering something with additional features more in-line with a personal alarm. The 4G Ultra Slim GPS Tracker is a good example: it not only has geofencing and 4G tracking, it’s also equipped with an easy-access SOS button in case of emergencies.
Making The Right Choice For YOU
Like purchasing any spy gadget, choosing the best GPS tracker comes down to your situation. At the Spy Store, we don’t waste your time with the cheap junk that’s going to break down if you look at it the wrong way: we understand that a GPS tracker is supposed to give you peace of mind, not be one more thing to worry about.
To that end, if you’re still unsure about which GPS tracker to purchase, worry not: our staff is always happy to help you find the right unit for your needs and budget. We know spy gear inside and out, and we’re always up to walk you through features, answer questions, and otherwise rave about our favourite spy gadgets.