The question is, is it worth the price tag?
There have been a lot of new GPS tracking devices hitting the market in recent months and I wanted to be sure the Spark Nano 4.0 could live up to his reputation before I start recommending it to others.
In order to give an honest review I decided to use a real-life test. As the parent of a 16 yr old son with a new driving license and a college freshman daughter who drives long distances for school and work, I decided that they would be the ideal subjects for my review. I informed my teenagers that they would be used as subjects without telling them what product I was reviewing.
I purchased two Spark Nano’s and went to work. I began tracking my kids to make sure that they were driving safely, coming home at curfew (for my son) and going to places they said they would be at. I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the results, more so with my daughter than with my son.
Ready to Go Out Of the Box
The first thing I found positive was the fact that Brickhouse doesn’t charge an additional activation fee like some of their competitors. You simply sign-up for the service plan, at a cost of less than $30 per month, and you’re ready to go. They bill you monthly for unlimited use with no contract or commitment.
The downside to their one-size-fits-all plan is that you’ll have to pay a hefty $50 fee to get it going again if you cancel the service. And if you allow your service to lapse for more than 60 days you’ll also need a new SIM card; a process that could take up to five business days before your Nano is reactivated. If those things don’t bother you, $200 is certainly a reasonable price to pay to have GPS tracking available at your fingertips.
In terms of putting the Spark Nano to work I found it very user-friendly. There are a couple of nice features that made it perfect for my tracking purposes. Keep in mind the fact that I didn’t want my “victims” to know I was keeping track of their whereabouts. All they knew was that sometime, somehow, I would be using them as product testers.
Here are a couple of things I learned throughout the course of my 60-day test:
- Compact Size – If you’re using a GPS device to track the movements of someone without them knowing, size is of utmost important. The Spark Nano is very compact with a footprint that measures just 2.66″ x 1.57″ x 0.83″. I was able to place it in various locations throughout the car where neither my wife nor my daughter were likely to find it. I was even able to slip it unnoticed into one of the rarely used pockets of my wife’s purse.
- Real-Time Tracking – The main difference between a tracking device like the Spark Nano and one that merely collects data lies in the real-time status updates. Whenever the car pulled away with the Nano board I was able to track exactly where it was at any time during the day. I used the Brickhouse default software to logon to the system; however, the company says the Nano will work with most other tracking software applications and servers.
- Geo-Fencing – One of my favorite features is the Spark Nano’s geo-fencing capabilities. Assuming there was a specific location or area of town I wanted neither my wife nor daughter to visit, I entered those parameters into the Nano before planting the device for the day. If either of my subjects ventured to that “smart” territory I was supposed to immediately get an alert sent to my e-mail. It worked flawlessly. This is a great feature if you’re tracking children or employees whom you don’t being in certain places.
- Battery Life – According to Brickhouse you get up to three weeks usage on one charge. I suppose that’s correct, more or less. I was closer to 17-19 days, but that could be due to any number of factors including weather, how often the device was activated, and whether or not I really fully charged it before deployment. Nonetheless, 19 days isn’t bad on a single charge.
For many people, a GPS tracking device is a tool that’s going to be used to monitor someone’s whereabouts without them knowing. As such, it’s not uncommon for a product like the Spark Nano to be stuck inside a wheel well or underneath a bumper using a magnetic case. But that means you need a GPS tracker that will stand up to both the weather and the rigors of driving. When I first took the Nano out of the box I wasn’t sure it was up to the task.
Despite my concerns there were no issues at all with the tracker. The Nano feels a lot heavier and tougher than it looks. The case is solid, the hardware is a state-of-the-art, and the whole package is moisture resistant. Throw in motion sensitive activation and you have a pretty trustworthy device.
My 60-day test ended with pages and pages of data I was able to present to my wife and daughter, showing them both how much I knew about their movements during the previous months. They were surprised, to say the least.
We all sat down to discuss the data and came to the conclusion that the Spark Nano would be a very useful tool for the types of purposes I was testing. We also agreed that it would probably be great for fleet managers, small business owners with one or two company cars, and even baby boomers who had a need to keep track of their elderly parents.
The Spark Nano 4.0 is certainly not the most expensive GPS tracker on the market. It doesn’t have some of the extra bells and whistles of its competitors, either. But for the money, and with a no obligation, contract, or locked-in monthly plan, it’s hard to do much better for the money. I now feel comfortable in recommending the Spark Nano to buyers of GPS trackers.
Perfect For Tracking:
Spark Nano 4.0 Features:
- Works on Exclusive BrickHouse GPS Platform
- Optional 6-Month Battery Extension
- Detailed Travel Reports
- 1, 5, or 10 Minute Location Updates
- Panic Button
- International Tracking Available
Spark Nano Specifications:
- Battery: 1300mAh, 3.7V Li-Polymer Backup Battery
- Weight: 2.03 oz. (60 grams )
- MMCX RF Connector for External GPS Antenna
- Dimensions: 2.66″ x 1.57″ x 0.83″ (67.5mm x 40mm x 21mm)
- Extreme Weather Reliability: -40° to 185°F (-40° to +85°C)
- Water Resistance (Rating: IPX-5)
- Quad-Band 850/900/1800/1900MHz
- 50-Channel All-In-View Tracking
- GSM Phase 2/2+ Compliant
- Equipped with Highly-Reliable uBlox 6 GPS Chipset
- Interface: Mini-USB port for PC connection/Charging
- Power Indicator: LED indicator
- GSM, and GPS statuses, power and function buttons
- MMCX RF connector for utilization of an external GPS antenna
- A uBlox 6 All-in-one GPS receiver
- Ability to locate within 9 to 10 feet (~2.5 meters) or less
- 3 Monitoring Options – Via BrickHouse Security GPS server, Purchase our white label tracking software to use on your servers, or use with your existing tracking Server
- Cable length: 3 feet
Additional Tech Specifications:
- GPS Accuracy: Within 10 feet
- GPS Sensitivity/Sensor: 50 Channels
- External GPS Antenna:Yes (Optional)
- Cold-Start Time (when you’ve turned the unit on after having been turned off for more than 6 hours) – 29 seconds
- Hot Start Time (when you’ve turned on the unit on after having been turned off for less than 5 minutes) – Less than 1 second