We first caught a glimpse of this Bond-esque gizmo at CES earlier in the year and at last it has made it across the pond, just in time for Xmas. For those who missed our earlier coverage, the aptly named Loc8tor is a handheld device that allows you to keep track of your possessions by leading you right to them.
It works by using small homing Tags. You attach one to your keyring, or pop one in your wallet for example, then when you need to find it, you can set the main device to Locate and this will guide you to your wayward property using a combination of audio and visual cues. Simple.
To make things more user-friendly, you can also program each tag to have a specific name, so you know exactly what you’re looking for and with the Loc8tor Plus you can even program the device to alert you when a Tag is getting beyond a certain distance from the Loc8tor. In addition you can also get special panic Tags that set the main unit’s alert off, which is supposed to be useful for kids, but is actually much more use when you’ve managed to lose the main unit down the back of the sofa.
Encouragingly, locating the tags, and thereby your lost property, works very well. When set to Locate, the main screen shows a strange kind of three pronged gauge that gives you a rough estimation of the distance to the Tag. The bar moves and the slightly ear-jarring sound changes in pitch and frequency as you steer towards the general direction of the Tag, which is an effective means for helping you find your way. And once you’re up close to the Tag you’ll be able to hear its own internal speaker as well.
Alert mode, available as an upgrade or in the Loc8tor Plus version, lets you set up a virtual perimeter measured in Near, Medium or Far, which will alert you when the tag strays beyond a certain distance. This seems to work fairly effectively too, and the Loc8tor also has a fairly respectable range of around 600 feet which is easily enough to cover most houses and probably some fairly large offices.
Finally, the main unit will also helpfully alert you when it or one of the Tags is getting low on batteries.
My main complaint (well more of a whinge actually) is with the aesthetics and visual design of the Loc8tor. Although it is reasonably small and definitely handheld, there does seem to be a lot of handset to carry around for just one function. This means that although it may be worthwhile to tag your wallet, keys, mobile and so on, you’re probably less likely to take the handset out with you as it will just be eating up too much pocket space.
The button layout seems a little odd too. There’s a direction pad with a centre button, and there are four coloured buttons as well. This just seems to be a bit of an overkill as most tasks can be achieved with only a couple of button presses anyway, and having all the quick buttons just confuses the issue.
11.0cm x 5.3cm x 1.6cm
Range 600 feet / 183m
Optional Alert mode
Optional Panic Tags
Registers up to 24 tags
The Loc8tor certainly has some great novelty value and the potential for practical use. Because the homing mechanism is effective at sending you towards your lost item, I can see how this might prove really handy, and the power to handle up to 24 tags simultaneously (or even 6,000 with Asset Protection system) could lead to an interesting business application.
There a few versions to choose between; the basic Loc8tor costs around £60 and comes with two homing tags, but only allows you to use Locate mode. For an extra 40 quid you get the Loc8tor Plus, which comes with three homing tags and one panic tag (that means two tags have been mislaid from this review kit – how ironic), and it lets you use Alert mode as well. Finally, you can by extra homing and panic Tags as you see fit, and you can upgrade the basic device to Alert mode at any time using a software key.