Carlock GPS Review
Recently I was given a chance to take a look at a Carlock On Board Diagnostic (OBD) GPS Tracker. The device is a simple to use GPS tracking device that plugs into a cars OBD port, which is usually under the steering wheel of any car built after 1996. The device provides real time information about the location of the vehicle it is plugged into. The company provides an easy to use app for Apple and Android devices, and also provides the user with an easy to navigate website that also provides location data. The app and the website both provide the user with numerous notification options and both interfaces are very intuitive.
In the automotive GPS market, there are lots of different options for purchasing and installing a GPS tracker. Some GPS devices are battery powered, and usually install in seconds but may only last a few days or weeks. Other devices require professional installation, or extensive automotive electrical knowledge and a basic understanding of radio frequency propagation. These devices will provide information as long as the car has a good battery. An OBD tracker is the happy medium between these devices. It installs in seconds and will always perform as long as the car’s battery is fully functioning. In my opinion, the only downside to an OBD tracker, is that while it is easy to install—its also easy to remove if the driver wants the device to stop sharing the location (example: your teenager or an employee).
Upon arrival, the packaging and form factor were very solid. The Carlock OBD tracker looks and feels professional. It comes with simple instructions and directs you to the Carlock website where you register your device, activate it, and give a few basic details about your car (make & model). You can pay for service through PayPal or a credit card. You have the option to pay a monthly fee of $9.60, or a yearly fee of $113.00 (as of January 2017). After registering the device and activating the service for it, the next step is to download the app on your smart phone. Once its downloaded, your user name and password are easily entered and your ready to go. And of course, you can also continue to use the online software. Its all very simple to set up. I had everything ready within in a few minutes. I was very happy with the set up process.
Once the software is ready, the device is ready to install. The device fit very firmly on my cars OBD port, as well as on my wife’s car. My only thoughts about the device’s form factor is the Carlock label. If the Carlock tracker is installed and easily seen by an unexpected driver and the driver is familiar with OBD Trackers, the label may cause them to remove the device. Thankfully, the label comes off very easily. Once the OBD tracker was installed, it gave me my location within 2 minutes. I was able to quickly see my cars location on my phone as well as on my desktop computer in my office. I was very impressed at how quickly the device was able to perform.
The app and the web based software are very easy to use, and the layout makes a lot of sense. I felt like it was fairly self explanatory and easy to navigate. While automotive GPS trackers are typically marketed to people that are worried about their car being stolen, the app and software both provide functionality that opens up the usefulness of the device. The software has features that alerts the user if the device has been removed, if the car has started, if it detects vibration, braking conditions, speed, and harsh cornering. These features can allow parents to know how their children are driving, and it can also let employers know how employees are driving company vehicles.
These features are displayed on “OpenStreetMaps”. While I would have liked to see the features displayed on Google maps, the mapping software is excellent. It doesn’t provide satellite imagery but does provide very detailed maps. The Carlock web based software currently allows you to export your starting points and stopping points to each trip in a Microsoft Excel file. Which means your starting and stopping points can be exported into Google Earth. Your trips can also be designated as “Private” and “Business” trips, which is great for keeping up with miles if you are using your car for business related trips.
The only feature I would have liked to have seen in the web based software is possibly a useless feature to most people. I would have liked the Excel file to contain each latitude and longitudinal point the OBD tracker recorded for each trip. Excel files can easily be converted to .KML files and plugged into Google Maps. This feature would provide satellite imagery of the trips in Google Maps and would also give a user the ability to ask Google Maps “What’s here?”. I reached out to Carlock and mentioned this. Carlock said it was a great idea, and would look into it. So maybe at some point there will be an update to the web based software and this function will be available. Again, the “OpenStreetMaps” maps is an excellent mapping source.
My overall thoughts on Carlocks OBD Tracker is that its a great choice for OBD Trackers. I have worked with various GPS trackers for over a decade now, and the Carlock software is absolutely one of my favorites. It is easy to use, and the software functionality provides great options. The device itself is straight forward and seems to be very well made. I initially received the Carlock OBD Tracker just to review it, and to provide people interested in the tracker with some additional content on the Dark Metal YouTube channel, however; I am still continuing to use the device for my personal vehicle. I would highly recommend this tracker to anyone in the market for an OBD GPS Tracker.
(Of note: This is not a paid advertisement)