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Martin Bailey - Author of Technology and Marketing Books

Review: Tile Mate

In 2014 the original Tile tag started shipping. This small Bluetooth tracker could be stuck on any device such as keys, bags or glasses cases and be located via your phone. I covered it in The Useful Book of Gadgets, Gizmos and Apps. Now there's a new kid on the block, the Tile Mate, which is smaller and lighter than its predecessor.

The original Tile was by no means overweight, measuring in at 37mm x 37mm x 5.3mm, but the Tile Mate is 25% smaller coming in at a more svelt 34mm x 34mm x 4.65mm and weighing less than a 10 pence piece. At the top left corner is a hole, which has shrunk a little from its predecessor. There's only one button on the device, and you can't open the device, with the in-built non-replaceable battery lasting for about one year.

Setup

The unit is packaged in a simple point of sale box. Open it up and you'll see the Tile on top, with instructions underneath. Getting it up and running is pretty straightforward. Ensure that your mobile's Bluetooth is switched on and then go to the App Store or Google Play to download the Tile App. Run it and register with a few key details, then click on the Plus icon to register a new tag. Press the silver button on the Tile and you'll be greeted with a sound confirming the pairing is successful. You can then categorise the tag e.g. Keys or Rucksacks, give it one of four personalised ringtones and custom its name.

Usage

The beauty of the Tile in operation is its simplicity. There's no on-off switch. If it's in range of your phone (or another person, as the Tile can be shared across two devices) then you can fire up the app, tap on the tag name and press Find. The range can be up to 100 foot with Bluetooth 4.0 and the Tile will then play a tune at 88 decibels, which is loud enough in a room but would be probably be difficult to hear at, say, an airport if the tag was more than a few feet away from you and inside a bag. The app will overlay a circle on the map in the approximate range of where the Tile could be, which again could be of less benefit in a large, busy area. Still, it's far better than nothing!

It also works in reverse. Double tap the silver Tile button in the centre of the tag and it'll cause your phone to play a melody, even if its on silent. This is great for those times when your phone has slid just out of sight. Think of it as a remote control for your phone. 

The real strength of Tile is in its network of users. Should your property go astray and be outside of Bluetooth range you can click on the 'Notify when found' button. This will then harness the power of the Tile network. If your tag passes by another Tile user and is flagged as missing then their phone will silently and anonymously alert you of its location, which drastically increases your chances of being reunited with it. The company has sold 6 million Tiles in the last two years since launch, with half a million Tiles located every day across 200 countries.

Replacement

As the battery is not removable or replaceable the Tile has a lifespan of a year. Tile will replace the tag when the battery finally gives out and will do so at up to 50% discount. They also offer a 'reTile' program where you can get your devices replaced annually and send your old Tiles back for recycling. Of course, this does mean that you're buying into an eco-system with an annual cost.

Summary

If you have an inclination to lose or misplace things then the Tile Mate is an elegant and simple to use solution. The only drawbacks are its potential limited success of hearing or locating it in a large crowded area and that once the Tile Mate battery dies you can't replace it. There are many Bluetooth trackers available, but it's the Tile network that adds the value and gives you a real chance to get your goods back if they do go astray by fair means or foul. The Tile Mate takes a previously successful product an refines it. The company also offers the Tile slim, which is much larger but slimmer (at just 2mm) than the Mate and more suited to be slid into a wallet or bag - this may also be worth a look.

myb 4star

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