SafeWise recently had the chance to team up with Aaron Gouveia, author of The Daddy Files, and Aspenta, maker of the Vectu GPS Tracker. Aaron was kind enough to take the Vectu for a test drive and tell us what he thought, and Aspenta was kind enough to give us an extra one to give away to one of you! Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of Aaron’s post!
My oldest son is eight. A few months ago he asked if he could earn more money in his allowance by taking on additional tasks – specifically, walking the dog. The only problem is I’d lose sight of him if he walked our dog down the nearby dirt road, so my wife and I regrettably said no.
So what is this thing? In a nutshell, it’s a portable device a little smaller than my wallet which you can put in a backpack, someone’s pocket, your car, or a suitcase and know where it is when you want to check. It costs $99, has a $36 annual fee, and you can download the free myAspenta app on iOS and Android, or on the web at myAspenta.com.
The Vectu comes with an installed SIM card usable anywhere in the world where GSM exists (which is basically everywhere except Japan, South Korea, and North Korea). It triangulates your location and transmits it back to predetermined email addresses, phone numbers via text, and the app.
I recommend charging it overnight before taking it for a spin. The really good news is you won’t have to charge it again for about five days with moderate use, because the battery on this thing is terrific. Then, after downloading the free app, it’s time to connect. Again, the Bluetooth feature makes this as painless as possible and very quick.
Once you’re charged and connected, you can really start to dig in to the features.
First of all, name your device. We did “Kids Tracking” since, well, we’re tracking our kids. It’ll take you to the “Map View” where you can click the “Locate” button, at which point you’ll see the most current location of the device. From there, we took it for a ride in the car and sure enough, it tracked us as we drove and hit locate to test it out. By the end of our trip we saw all the little markers dotting our journey.
When we were on the road and in the next city over, the location was fairly accurate. But when we were home and in the boonies on our little side street, it was a different story.
I went for a walk with my son and when I hit locate, I didn’t have any luck. It timed out a couple of times before it finally gave me a location – except the location was off. More than a third of a mile off, actually. Accuracy is definitely an issue here, and if I didn’t already know where my son was I would’ve had a pretty hard time finding him with the coordinates the Vectu gave me.
Unfortunately, size is a little bit of an issue as well. The Vectu is a little bigger than I’d like – certainly too big for my nearly 3-year-old to pocket – and since he doesn’t do backpacks or fanny packs, I couldn’t really use it to track him. Which is just as well because I found this unit isn’t exactly for small kids.
It was much easier to plant on my 8-year-old and perfect for sticking in the car somewhere. You know, like cars teenagers might drive. And parents of those teenagers could easily find a hiding spot in the car for it. And said parents could determine whether their teenagers are actually where they’re supposed to be, instead of across town doing God knows what!
Or, if you’re caring for an elderly friend or family member suffering from dementia, this would be a handy device to use. In the case of that person wandering off, it would help immensely to press a single button and find the person immediately.
Speaking of help, the Vectu has some cool features that do just that. First and foremost is the Help button.
When you’re starting out with this device and adjusting the user settings, make sure you input the correct time zone. I learned that one the hard way. But you can also put in four email addresses and four phone numbers. Why do you want to do that? Because when someone hits the Help button, it’ll notify everyone listed and alert you that there’s a problem.
Another really cool feature is the Geofence.
I made a little circle around my house and property, and if the device leaves that circle a notification goes out to me and my wife, letting us know there’s a problem. I had my son go for a walk and sure enough, when he got out of the perimeter I set up, my phone buzzed and I had a text and email waiting for me letting me know there was a breach. This is probably my favorite feature and gives me serious peace of mind. I just wish the location was a little more accurate.
I also enjoyed the Heat Map, which shows you all the places the device has been in the five minutes after you hit “Locate,” as well as the Reports section that lists all the alerts and location requests in a customized period of time.
So, where do I stand on the Vectu?
It’s much more affordable than most other similar items on the market, and you get a lot for your money. Also, the battery life is just spectacular. It’s certainly a no frills device and the idea is solid, but there are faults.
Mainly it’s the accuracy. If I really had a missing child and had no idea where he went, getting a location that’s close to a half-mile off is going to be problematic. While setup and the app itself is straightforward and user-friendly, function suffers a bit because of how often the locate search times out.
While I wouldn’t use this to reliably track young kids, I would absolutely use the Vectu for elder care, vehicle tracking, and in luggage or backpacks on family trips. If it were smaller, I’d put it in the kids’ socks so maybe I could finally solve the mystery of how the hell they always seem to go missing, and where they disappear. Is it another dimension?? I mean, honestly.
Sorry, back to business. The Vectu has issues with accuracy and occasional unresponsiveness, but it’s also a solid device at a low price point that’s easy to set up and use. The Help button, GeoFence, and customized alerts are big selling points and will give parents like me some added peace of mind when taking trips, like the one we took to Disney last month.