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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hands on with the Garmin GTU 10 GPS personal locator

12

September

full.jpgFor the past couple of days I've been testing the Garmin GTU 10 personal locator, a GPS tracking device designed to be used for keeping track of the important people, animals and property in your life. It's a small, lightweight and waterproof device that easily can be attached to your dog's collar, a child's backpack, a boat or other property. Dimensions of the GTU 10 are 1.34" x 3.07" x 0.79" and it weighs just 1.71 ounces, so it easily can be concealed on pretty much anything you own that you'd want to track.

The GTU 10 gets its location from a GPS signal than transfers that information through the AT&T wireless network. Interaction with the web-based Garmin Tracker service also is delivered by AT&T wireless. Using Garmin Tracker users can set up up to 10 geofences (virtual boundaries) that will trigger notifications for each device.  Each time a boundary is crossed the system can send an email or text message to the user or authorized friends and family members. The service also provides tracking history, with the last 10 locations for Standard Tracking and the last seven days using Deluxe Tracking.  Apps for iOS and Android devices are available for tracking when on the go. The service is available within the confines of AT&T's national broadband coverage area.

Setup for the GTU 10 is easy. Just create a free "My Garmin" account and login to register the device using its serial number. Once registered, the GTU 10 can be tracked using the online Garmin Tracker interface. There you can see location coordinates associated to the nearest address and the current speed for the device, if it's moving. You also can view tracking history or the current battery level and give the GTU-10 a friendly nickname.

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To set up a geofence you use a multi-point drawing tool on the map for precise placement. I made a fence around our neighborhood, imagining that I might use the GTU 10 to track one of our beagles. You can set each fence with a different color and a list of email contacts. Alerts can be set for delivery when the device exits the fenced area or enters the fenced area. To test the fence I left the area and came back. Email alerts were sent to me instantly each time.

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The GTU 10 runs on a built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery and battery life will vary depending on the settings you choose for how often the device broadcasts it's position. You can choose from on demand, moderate (every 15 minutes), balanced (every five minutes) and heavy (every 30 seconds). The device is charge using the included USB cable and a PC or USB-enabled power source.

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The online Garmin Tracker interface is OK but using the Garmin Tracker app really makes this system shine. The app interface is very clean and it's really easy to find all the information and change the settings. You can use the app to do all the same things you can do on the web interface, like set a geofence, view the battery level and view track history. One advantage of the app is that it allows you to enter phone numbers for SMS alerts in addition to email alerts.

Who might use the GTU 10 personal locator? Consider these examples:

  • Pet owners: Receive notifications when your pet exits a geofence so you can go track it down.
  • Parents: Track your children on their way to school to make sure they arrive safely.
  • Runners: Let friends or family track your whereabouts on your daily run, or your progress on race day.
  • Travelers: Locate luggage and belongings so nothing gets left behind or lost.
  • Boat owners: Track your boat in case of theft or if it gets loose in a storm

The Garmin GTU 10 is available for $199.99 on the AT&T site and the purchase price includes one year of Standard Tracking. The service does not require a contract and after the first year it can be renewed at an annual rate of $49.99. The Deluxe Tracking service plan is an additional $4.99 per month.

This is a well-designed device and it works as advertised. If you're looking for an easy way to keep track of a dog, child or piece of property this may be the ticket. At $200 it may seem like an expensive pill to swallow, but remember the first year of tracking is included in that price. After that you're on the hook for $50 a year, and that seems pretty reasonable for the piece of mind you'll get, knowing if your beloved beagle gets away you'll have a good chance of finding him.

[Last modified: Monday, September 12, 2011 10:41am]

    

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