Under the Radar

Track Your Luggage With Trakdot

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The Trakdot promises to let you get a GPS fix on your checked baggage. It's about the size of a deck of cards, costs $49.99 direct from the manufacturer (+$19.99 for a one-year service plan) and sends you an email or a text message when you land in your new location.

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You put in the two AA batteries and connect it to Trakdot's cellular network. It's not complicated if you actually write down the device ID before you put in the batteries. The battery compartment is a tight fit and it takes some patience to swap out a dead battery: it's not a quick fix you can execute in line at a crowded airport. There's no on/off switch: you press the button until the light shines red for 10 seconds, you check that it's working with a quick press that should give you a green light and you turn it off by pressing the button until the center light flashes green three times. It's a little complicated, but a steady light would take too much battery power.

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If you have email alerts set up, this is what you get when your plane lands and the device checks in with the network:

Your Trakdot is in Atlanta, GA, USA. If you are at this location and it is your final destination, proceed to baggage claim to pick up your luggage. If you are at your final destination, but it is not the location of your Trakdot luggage, then proceed to your carrier's Baggage Claim Office and arrange for the luggage to be sent to you from Atlanta, GA, USA. Battery: Good
OK, then. So what does a Trakdot do? If it's working as designed, it can remove the stress between gate and baggage check for people who fret about whether their bags made the flight. If your bag ended up in the wrong city, you can go straight to the baggage desk and argue with them while they tell you to wait until all the bags have come out before making a claim.

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Does the Trakdot do exactly what it promises? Yes. Do you need one? I guess you could also stick it in a car's glovebox and use it as a low-cost LoJack option to find out if your kids are really going over to a friend's house to study. Otherwise, it's a question of how much information do you need? If your bag gets lost and you'll feel better knowing specifically that it's in Minneapolis instead of Chicago and you'll want to know exactly when it does finally get to your destination, Trakdot's got your solution.

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