COMMENT:

I liked the thinking behind the original Tile - a widget the size of a Scrabble piece that you can use to track easily-losable items like car keys or a TV remote.

The idea was you could attach a Tile to, say, your key ring. Then, if you lost it, you could use a smartphone app to see it's location on an onscreen map, or "ring" it to make it squawk.

I first got a Tile as part of a promotion for Blunt Umbrellas.

Advertisement

It seemed a cute idea. If you had a posh $150 brolly, you didn't want to lose it (there was a special pouch on the Blunt for the Tile).

But then after a few months, I got a low battery warning - and was annoyed to discover there was no replaceable battery. You had to buy a whole new Tile for $60. They never mentioned that in those annoying Facebook ads. I biffed it away.

Now, Tile has come out with two new versions of its tracker, both of which do come replaceable batteries: the Tile Mate ($45) and Tile Pro ($60). There's also the Tile Silm ($30), which still lacks a replaceable battery but is slim enough to tuck into a wallet.

But there was also a second drawback with the original Tile. You had to be within 30 meters range for your smartphone to talk to a Tile. That's a limitation of Bluetooth, which transmits device-to-device (as opposed to more expensive GPS-based trackers, which utilise the GPS satellite network - the Herald recently covered Spark's Spacetalk).

Tile has a couple of workarounds for this issue. The app can tell you where it last connected with a Tile attached to your lost object - a digital answer to the age-old question "Where did you see it last?."

And there's also a crowd-source mode, where the app lets you send out an appeal to other Tile owners in case one of them is within a few meters of your lost item (and there are now around 15 million Tiles in the wild, so you could get a bit of help).

The new Tiles also have a longer Bluetooth range, which helps. The Mate can transmit up to 45 meters and the Pro up to 91 meters.

There is a trade-off. The replaceable battery and the stronger transmitter mean the new Tiles are noticeably chunkier than the original (see pic above).

The Tile is pricey, but helps you keep track of items like car keys or your TV remote. Photo / Supplied.
The Tile is pricey, but helps you keep track of items like car keys or your TV remote. Photo / Supplied.

Tile also has a new premium service which unlocks extra features for $3 a month (or slightly less if you sign up for a year).

The extra features include "smart alerts" so you can be notified if you leave home without a specific item. Tile cautions this feature is still in beta (or test) mode.

You also get unlimited sharing so, say, multiple people could ring a Tile attached to one TV remote or use the "last place seen" feature to locate it.

Tile says its premium option also includes an extended warranty that boosts replacement coverage from one year to three - but remember you're already covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act on that front, which says a retailer must replace or repair a product if it does not last for a reasonable amount of time - not an arbitrary amount of time set by the seller, such as one year.