A device to find all your gear, anytime, anywhere?
We all have trouble finding things from time to time. Tile Sport takes the time and frustration out of recovering your things. It helps you to keep your cool.
While this is incredibly useful in day-to-day life, you can’t deny it’s essential to keep your cool when travelling or outdoor adventuring.
Tile Sport is a new device with improved range and ruggedness, from Tile Inc., a company which has produced over 10 million Tiles.
Functionality & Ease of Use (Rating: 90%)
Tile Sport is a compact, well-built Bluetooth device which can be located with a smartphone app.
There are no ongoing charges, you buy the Tile outright and attach it to any item you wish to keep track of.
The Tile employs three locating features: 1. an audio signal for when the device is in close proximity, 2. a proximity indicator based on Bluetooth signal strength and finally 3. a crowdsourced community of other Tile users for when the device is beyond Bluetooth range.
It also has a useful reverse lookup facility. If you have lost your Tile app-enabled mobile phone or iPad, pressing the button on the Tile will signal the phone and make it ring- even if it is in silent mode.
So how does Tile Sport work?
The hierarchy and approximate range of the three locating features is:
- Audio – 10 to 30 metres
- Bluetooth – 30 to 200 metres
- Tile Community – >200 metres
When you are beyond audio range, Tile uses Bluetooth to home in. I found the Bluetooth range to be surprisingly good – 200 metres line of sight was no problem. The app has a concentric ring which becomes thicker with increasing proximity. As the Bluetooth signal is non-directional you will have to wander around a bit to home in on the Tile. Once the proximity sensor is all green, you should then be within audio range. The Tile does not have GPS facility – its communication is via Bluetooth.
As for the Tile Community: Lost mode, the Tile uses a novel crowdsourcing system, where other users who have the Tile app can locate the position of your Tile and report it to you via email. Successful recovery of a lost or stolen item using this method is an outside chance but still a possibility. I tagged my Tile as lost as a test and received reasonably accurate position reports on a map base layer, sent to me anonymously from other Tile users.
Tile Sport is waterproof and dust resistant to IP68 standard (i.e. waterproof to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes). This is important as external mounting is desirable for audio and Bluetooth performance.
Battery life is guaranteed to last one year. The battery, however, is non-rechargeable and non-replaceable. This poor design decision is disappointing since the Tile certainly doesn’t look or feel like a single use item.
While the manufacturer offers a ‘reTile’ replacement program, I expect most people will simply set aside the device when its battery is discharged, and it no longer works, thus increasing the product’s environmental impact. While Tile claims a 99.9% recycle rate for those Tiles returned to them, I can’t find any reference to their reTile swap over program operating outside the US so the actual figure will be much lower.
Out of the box, setup is simple and quick. You just need to download the app, which then steps you through device pairing and setup. Android and Apple app versions are available. No criticisms here.
As for real world use, there are a few applications I can see.
Adventure travellers could most obviously use a Tile (or multiple tiles) to keep track of any (or all) items of their luggage. My passport is the thing I fret most about when I travel so I could imagine slipping a Tile into my passport wallet.
Outdoor enthusiasts could use a Tile on a multi-day hike if they were to decide to take a side-trip and leave their multi-day pack at the trailhead. It could potentially help them find where they’ve hidden it, or in the worst-case scenario find out quickly if someone’s stolen it (this may be rare, but it does happen). For those with expensive gear – skiers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, etc. – a Tile attached to their most precious piece of gear could save a lot of trouble on their next overseas adventure.
Let’s face it though, the most common and useful application for this technology would be in day-to-day life. Recently, I was leaving the house for an appointment and went to grab my keys and found they weren’t in their usual spot. I patted down my pockets and had a man’s look in the other likely spots. No luck, so I fired up the Tile app and wandered around the house listening for the Bionic Birdie melody. Two minutes later I found the keys under some bags I had taken out of the car a few hours earlier. Without the Tile, this would have taken a lot more time and frustration, and I would have missed my appointment. Tile Sport works.
The audio volume is adequate for indoor use, if you are in the same room as the Tile Sport you will hear it. Outdoors is a different story. The maximum audio range I could hear the Tile was 30 metres downwind. Upwind of a light breeze, it was 10 metres. So, this doesn’t bode well for my aforementioned applications for outdoor enthusiasts, unfortunately. The audio is a choice of ten cheesy tones. While they squawk like a novelty greeting card, nothing sounds sweeter when you triumphantly recover the item you have mislaid.
Design & Durability (Rating: 80%)
The device looks good, is rugged and well made, and has a strong integral mounting loop. At 40mm x 40mm x 6mm it is at the size limit for attaching to a set of keys. Okay for a backpack or TV remote control, but too big for spectacles or headphones. It’s worth mentioning that Tile also offers a slim model more suitable for wallets.
What I Like
- Excellent for finding keys.
- Reverse lookup capability – the Tile can ring your lost phone.
- Bluetooth range is excellent.
- Good overall design. Nice packaging. Slick app.
What I Don’t Like
- Battery is non-rechargeable and non-replaceable. The potential environmental impact of this should have been considered. (See this guide to GPS luggage trackers for other options if this is a deal breaker)
- Audio range is poor when outdoors.
Disclaimer: Tile provided a Tile Sport to review. The Amazon link above is an affiliate link. None of this has any influence on the opinions presented in my review.
Have you tried the Tile Sport? Got any questions or comments? Let us know by commenting below.