Do you need to monitor a valuable item such as a painting, heirloom or antique in transit? Or maybe you want to make sure that your small yet high-value possessions will always be found in case they get misplaced, lost or stolen? While personally keeping watch on your most prized possessions at all times may be the surest way to keep them safe, it may not be practical, convenient – or even possible for some.
Modern technology in the form of Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers is a great – if not better – alternative to watching your valuables 24/7 like it is your job. You might think that using such advanced gadgetry is an outrageous means of guarding your personal valuables, but you must remember that one of the advantages of technologies is the more mature they get, the cheaper and more accessible they become.
GPS, for example, has come a long way since its invention in 1973 for the use of the U.S. Department of Defense, which cost about $12 billion of taxpayers’ money. Unlike their military-grade predecessor, modern GPS devices such as trackers and locators can now be easily had – not only for as low as $20 but also as convenient as shopping online with a next-day delivery guarantee.
Such increasing ubiquity, however, is making it harder for personal GPS users to choose what particular type of equipment, brand and accessories suit their needs. If you find yourself asking the same questions, perhaps it is best to first learn the basics.
How Does It Work?
GPS trackers receive signals from a group of satellites around the earth’s orbit to triangulate their precise location. When the triangulated coordinates are monitored at regular intervals, the tracker can then determine the speed, distance of its movement or duration of stationary position.
Depending on the functions and features built into the device, a GPS tracker may store these useful details within an internal memory for later retrieval or transmit them real-time using a cellular network.
- Data logger – The most basic of its kind, GPS loggers simply record its location at regular intervals in its internal flash memory or a detachable memory card. Users need to physically connect the device or the memory card to a computer for further data processing and analysis.
- Data pusher – Performing a step farther than loggers, data pushers can send their position and other details such as speed to a receiving device that stores the information and analyzes it instantaneously.
- Data puller – Often called GPS transponders, data pullers are more interactive than loggers and pushers as their position can be queried by the user at any given time, often via a text message.
Beyond real-time location tracking, logging and transmitting, some devices can be programmed to immediately report, via text or email, any signs of tampering or unauthorized movement of the item.
Models with weatherproof casings ensure that the device functions in any environment, while units with solar chargers enable longer-term tracking with an extended battery life. These value-added features enable even more items – including pets, vehicles, heavy machinery and other valuables – to be tracked real-time and hassle-free.
Tracking Down the Device You Need
As with most gadgets, what you pay for is what you get. After listing what basic functions and value-added features you need, it is time to further narrow down your options based on trusted manufacturers and vendors.
There is no shortage of trusted brands of GPS trackers ideal for personal use, the most popular of which are Garmin, Zoombak, Escort and PocketFinder. While direct purchasing is often available on the respective brands’ websites, you may also want to check out popular online shopping sites including Amazon.com or more specialized sites such as thegpsstore.com and gpscity.com. Apart from posting reviews from actual users, these sites also provide brand and model comparisons that can help you make a more informed decision by enabling you to select and juxtapose your shortlisted models.
Buy from vendors that provide technical support and after-sales services. There is no worse deal than being stuck with an expensive state-of-the-art GPS tracker that you cannot use, fix or return.