I’ll admit that I’m an eBay and, latterly, a banggood.com addict. Bargains! One of the latest I saw was a ‘GPS Vehicle Tracker’ for €13 on banggood. It seemed too good to be true.
Very Short Review
It’s rubbish. Even at €13, that’s about €12.90 more than it’s worth.
Slightly Longer Review
In the box you get a booklet of instructions, a fused power lead and the tracker. The instructions are half in Chinese and half in English (well, kind-of-English). There’s a model number in the instructions – TX-5. Good since there’s none on the the case, the PCB or the packaging. No manufacturer name, anywhere. Here’s a link to an Alibaba page selling the same thing, with some instructions (saves me having to scan them in.) A little Googling shows that it might also be be sold as a a MT09-SZ14 made by Guangzhou Topten Electronics Factory. So, maybe it’s a YuLongDa TX-5. Or maybe it’s a LSON TX-5. Really, in Shenzen they don’t seem to mind copying anybody’s design, even from guys just down the road.
You’ll notice from the photos that the blue letters ‘GPS’ on the case is about the full extent of the GPS-ness of this tracker. It doesn’t have a GPS receiver. Period. Any location is performed by trilateration (pedantic word for triangulation in this context) of cell tower signal strengths. This thing needs a GPRS connection to work, and, possibly, also some network-level position service (SUPL or similar). I seriously doubt that, here in rural Spain, you’re going to get anything closer than a few km of ‘accuracy’ – if it works at all. For the purposes of recovering a stolen (valuable) vehicle, I can’t see how this thing fits the bill. It’s no real use for Usage Based Insurance. I could just about stretch to thinking that it might be useful for getting a vague idea of where your trucks are in your fleet, but then you’re probably prepared to pay, ooh, say, twice as much as €13 for a tracker with a real GPS receiver if you’re in this game seriously.
I’d like to say that I’d tested it to give some performance figures, but, by the time I’d got a PAYG SIM card to do the tests, fired it up and tested, it’s dead, to all intents and purposes. I can’t reach it via GSM – a fundamental test; you are supposed to be able to plug in a SIM, power it up, call it, it hangs up then sends you an SMS with a position. I couldn’t even call it – ‘switched off / out of coverage area’.
So, I can write this one down to experience. Perhaps I’ll earn €13 worth of interweb karma for the review.
P.S. Here’s a video review which is slightly, but not much, more scathing of this Shenzen wonder. He got his to talk GSM and report a position. Not a good position, mind you, even in a built-up area with plenty of cell towers.