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Finders beepers: Review of the Cobra Tag, StickNFind, and BiKN Smart Case

These devices can help locate your misplaced keys, phone, remotes, and more

Published: December 2013
Left to right: Cobra Tag BT225UNI, StickNFind, and BiKN Smart Case.

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If your Christmas gift list includes Ms. Where'd I Put ’Em or Mr. Misplaces Stuff—that is, someone who tends to lose keys, a smart phone, remote controls, and other items—you might want to consider one of these devices, all of which would make a stellar stocking stuffer.

The Cobra Tag, StickNFind, and BiKN Smart Case locate items via an app on a smart phone or tablet equipped with Bluetooth (Cobra), Bluetooth Low Energy (StickNFind), or proprietary technology (BiKN). Each requires attaching a small tag to an item and creating links between the tag (or BiKN case) and the phone or tablet. To find tagged keys, for example, you touch a button on the app and follow the tag’s chirp or buzz. The missing item must be within about 30 feet of where you are, though the range can grow under ideal conditions.

The Cobra app makes the tag chirp and indicates the strength of its signal but doesn’t graph its relative distance from you. But it can find items in reverse: If you’ve misplaced your phone but have your keys, press a button on the tag and your phone will vibrate and play a song. If you leave home with the tagged item or your phone but not both, the devices will alert you. The app can also send a map link to a lost item’s last known location. You can use multiple tags with Android devices but just one with iOS devices. Tags need a weekly charge.

Find more great gift ideas in our Holiday & Gift Guide.

StickNFind adheres to flat surfaces or to an included “dog tag” that you attach to an item. The app’s screen shows all the tagged items within range, and you can make the sticker on the lost item buzz, flash, or both. (The app supports up to 20 tags.) The screen indicates relative distance of the StickNFind from your smart phone or tablet; you walk and see whether you’re getting closer or farther from the blue dot on the screen. You can also create a “virtual leash” so that the phone warns you if a sticker moves farther than a chosen distance. The stickers use a standard watch battery that should last a year.

As with the Cobra Tag, BiKN makes its tags chirp and has reverse finding; as with StickNFind, it displays relative distance to the lost item. Each BiKN case also has its own battery, so your iPhone needn’t be on when using the tag. You can link up to eight tags and use any tag to find the others without using the phone. The case’s battery is charged whenever you charge the phone.

Bottom line. All three devices work. The Cobra Tag is versatile and is always on, so it took just a few seconds to start the app, touch the button, and find the tag. BiKN is limited to the iPhone 4/4S, though a newer version that works on many devices is expected. Its multitag network might be useful for families that tend to misplace lots of stuff. StickNFind took up to 2 ½ minutes to find our stickered item even when it was next to our phone—a poor choice for the impatient.

The size of the lost item (a key chain vs. a large purse), its willingness to be found (an aloof cat vs. a friendly dog), and its location (on the counter or under the sofa) will affect how readily it’s found.

—Consumer Reports

Editor's Note: This article appeared in the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
   

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