We test four object-locating gadgets to help you keep tabs on the stuff you're always losing (like your keys, your phone, your remote control, etc.). But what if you lose the finder-gadget?
We’ve all been there: You’re running late and trying to leave the house but you can’t find your keys. You check all the usual spots, retrace your steps, and then you head for the sofa cushions, the refrigerator, maybe even your sock drawer. If only you could magically summon your keys to you with a Harry Potter-inspired incantation!
Well, you can. While you’ve been wasting precious minutes of your life scrambling after lost keys, the cleverest of the forgetful people are beating you to the best parking spots and restaurant tables. They make their way out the front door seconds after giving a tiny gadget a small squeeze. You’ve probably heard of it: it’s called a wireless key finder.
Wireless key finders can find more than just keys. They generally come in two different designs, and we tested both. The first is the type that requires a receiver to be attached to a key chain, so that when a transmitter button (presumably stored somewhere permanent) is pressed, the receiver makes an easy-to-pinpoint noise. There are often suggestions included in the packaging for how to attach the transmitter button to something else, like a remote, handbag or toy (anything, really). Another type of “key finder” isn’t really a key finder, but a phone-finder. We tested a product that uses Bluetooth to pair a Blackberry or Android smartphone to a tracker device. Luckily, if you lose the phone-tracking device, the phone itself can help you find it (if you haven’t already lost your phone, you nincompoop).
We tested two wireless key finder models from a company called 2Go Products: the Click ‘N’ Dig (the CND1002 and the CND RFK1004). We also tested the Cobra Tag key finder from Cobra Electronics, and the Zomm electronic leash. We tested the battery life, effective distance, durability, ease of use and design of each of the four devices, and awarded each device a score from 1 to 5 in each category. Then, we averaged the individual scores of each product to come up with an overall score.
In general, we were impressed by the time-saving benefits of these gadgets. However, even though the manufacturers of these gadgets attempted to solve the problem of “losing the transmitter” (the device that helps you track down the tracked device itself), their efforts were not fail-safe. In many cases, truly forgetful users will lose both the transmitter and the tracker.
And while cell-phone finders are equally useful and compelling as key finders, so far only owners of certain types of smartphones equipped with Bluetooth will be able to benefit. If you’re chasing after a frequently lost “feature phone,” be prepared to continue scrounging around your house.
Only you (or your roommate or significant other) know if you’re the type of person who’s made a habit of misplacing keys and other very important items. But, like all forms of self-improvement, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Wireless key finders and phone leashes won’t solve all of your organizational problems, but they just might save you time and embarrassment.