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Hands on: Kensington Bluetooth 4 Proximo starter set

updated 10:35 pm EST, Wed January 2, 2013

App, Fob, Tag combination helps prevent device loss

Accessory manufacturer Kensington has produced peripherals for computing aficionados for years. A new gadget by the company is the Kensington Proximo security system, which leverages the Bluetooth 4 technology found in Apple's latest crop of devices and promises that the fob-and-app combo will help prevent expensive mobile device loss. Electronista was given the opportunity to evaluate the new technology, and put it through its paces over the last week.

The Proximo device sets up a wireless connection between the iPhone and fob or tag using low-power Bluetooth 4. The app has a "dashboard" to show the status of each fob or tag. Hitting the button on the fob, or tapping the "find" button on the app dashboard triggers an alarm that helps locate the phone paired with Bluetooth, keys attached to the fob, or whatever the tag is attached to.

When the fob or tag is out of range, tapping the "last seen" icon from the app shows where the device was last "seen." The Proximo app can track up to four tags at the same time, and each can be given a customized name, icon, images, or retrieval sound.

The fob will sound an alarm when it exceeds the proximity zone from the iPhone, or vice versa. The sensitivity of each Fob and Tag can be set independently. Some quick testing -- involving a phone thieved by a toddler during holiday mayhem -- led to the discovery of a nice default volume, audible even when stashed underneath pillows.

When the "loss" was reversed and keys were "misplaced," the iPhone acted as a proximity sensor, albeit without directionality. A technological game of "warmer, colder" was the result, and was surprisingly effective in locating the lost device, without invoking the audible alarm if desired.

Various technical reasons -- including power conservation -- limit the fob to using Bluetooth 4 only, making the application unusable on the iPhone 4, as well as older iPhones and iPads. Maximum range in our testing so far peaked at a detection range of 44 feet when the phone activated the location signal, and 29 feet if activated from the fob. Kensington claims the CR2032 batteries give the fob a six-month battery life, but a week's worth of testing was clearly not enough to verify this.

The Kensington Proximo starter kit is expected to debut at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas the week of January 7. A starter kit consisting of one fob and one tag retails for $60; the iPhone tracking companion application will be free, and will be available on the Apple App Store shortly after the formal announcement.




by MacNN Staff

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