The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a GPS Tracker
Nowadays, it might be nearly impossible to imagine a world without a global positioning system (GPS). If you’re used to entering an address into your Google Maps app before driving off, you know how helpful this tool can be. The U.S. Department of Defense started the GPS project in 1973. At the time, it was a passive, one-way system with 24 satellites designed to facilitate electronic navigation. Now, satellites orbit around the Earth a staggering 12,000 feet above, and anyone with a GPS tracker can take advantage of the technology.
Whether you want a tracker for your personal or professional use, it’s important to get the right one. So today, we’re sharing an in-depth shopping guide to help you choose a device that meets all of your needs.
What Is a GPS Tracker?
A GPS tracker is a device that tracks the movement of an object using the government-controlled global positioning system. Users often affix these trackers on vehicles to monitor where they go as they travel from one destination to the next.
While GPS tracking is similar to in-car navigation, these two systems don’t work exactly alike.
Drivers can easily see and operate a navigation system. They can identify their location on a digital map and follow the written and verbal directions to reach their end address. Conversely, GPS trackers are more discreet.
These aren’t meant to be navigational tools for the driver. Instead, they share the vehicle’s current location and past trip history with the user who controls them. Once the tracker obtains the information, it sends it to a central repository device, such as a:
GPS tracking can be beneficial if you need to know where a vehicle (or fleet of vehicles) is at all times. Next, let’s take a look at a few key features to evaluate as you compare your different options.
Check Reporting Intervals
As you start looking at different types of GPS trackers, pay attention to the reporting intervals that each one can provide. Some are designed to send you reports every few hours, while others will update you every few minutes. Then, high-tech ones share around-the-clock updates as they occur in real time.
Think about how often you want to receive a notification, and use that to help narrow down your selection. For instance, if you know you need 24/7 updates, you can eliminate models that only send comprehensive reports at the end of the day.
It’s important to note that more frequent reporting models usually come at a higher price tag. However, that expense is well worth it for the peace of mind they can provide.
Consider Portable vs. Fixed
Do you need to move your GPS tracker among different objects or locations? If so, you’ll need a portable model that you can easily remove and re-install as required.
Portable trackers tend to be smaller and easier to conceal than their larger, fixed counterparts. This means they’re also more versatile.
For instance, you can put one in your child’s backpack when they go to a camp, school, or a friend’s house. Then, when they return, you can use the same tracker to monitor your teen driver’s location on the road.
You can even take one with you if you want others to know your location. This is a helpful safety step for avid hikers, snowboarders, or anyone who frequently travels into desolate areas. You can even purchase a Jet Ski GPS Tracker to monitor your runtimes and keep your investment safe while not in use.
On the other hand, a hard-wired system is ideal if you know you only need one GPS tracker and plan to keep it in the same location. Most of these are designed to work with your car’s existing electrical system, so you don’t have to worry about battery life. Plus, these blend seamlessly into your car, so the only way a driver will know it’s there is if you tell them.
Look for Key Accessories
Depending on how you plan to use your GPS tracker, there are a few different accessories to look for. For instance, if you want to install one on the underside of your teen’s car, you’ll need a secure magnetic mount case to keep it in place.
You may also need a separate charger if you opt for a portable device. Finally, be sure to check the battery life on your tracker to understand how long you can operate it before it’s time to recharge. Robust ones designed for commercial use usually include 100-day batteries that require infrequent charging, but smaller and less expensive ones will need more juice.
Check Price Point
When choosing a tracker, resist the urge to go for the lowest-priced model automatically. While these might save you a few bucks in the short term, they’ll cost you down the road. In addition, budget GPS tracking options tend to conk out sooner and aren’t as user-friendly.
A few of the other drawbacks you might experience include the following:
- Weaker signals
- Unstable operation
- Inaccurate locations and coordinates
- Frequent restarts and resets
While you don’t have to break the bank to get a functional tracker, paying a little more for improved stability and system performance is worth it. This is especially the case if you need a tracker for commercial purposes. Budget models aren’t as reliable, and you could be liable if they become inoperable.
Low-priced ones could also be counterfeit, so be sure to only purchase from reliable, pre-vetted websites.
Invest in a Smart GPS Tracker Today
While GPS technology was first designed to assist government operations, it’s now an essential part of everyday navigation. A GPS tracker can help you easily monitor your employees, loved ones, and team members’ activity. You can also affix one to your high-priced vehicles and devices to ensure you know where they are at all times.
With so many models, it can be challenging to find the perfect one. However, using this guide, you can find the device that works for you.
Need help choosing your next gadget? Check out the other guides in our Technology section!