Zoombak GPS Review
As you venture into the realm of GPS tracking devices, Zoombak might catch your eye. Its compact size and appealing packaging beckon from the shelf. But does it deliver on its promise of reliable tracking? Let’s dive in. Navigating the setup and activation process, we’ll explore its user-friendliness and pinpoint how this device performs in real-time tracking scenarios. We’ll also uncover any potential limitations, from battery life to data accessibility, and examine the pros and cons in detail. This comprehensive review aims to reveal if Zoombak truly meets everyone’s tracking needs or if it falls short of the mark.
Once you get your hands on the Zoombak personal GPS tracker, you’ll instantly appreciate its conveniently small size. Complete with an AC wall charger, pouch, car charger, and user guide, it provides all the essentials. You might also find yourself drawn to its innovative packaging, a clear testament to Zoombak’s dedication to catering to varied market segments. Their promise, “We offer products designed to meet everyone’s needs,” creates a positive first impression, showcasing their intention to satisfy every customer’s unique requirements.
Zoombak Start-Up and Activation
To set up your new Zoombak GPS tracker, you’ll need to activate it first. Start by visiting the Zoombak website and clicking the “activate” tab. Here, you’ll create your account. You’ll need an email address as your username, and you’ll create a secure password for login. For SMS communication with Zoombak, a four-digit pin is required, along with an answer to a security question, such as your mother’s maiden name. You’ll also create an alphanumeric name like Ryan25, Spot04, etc.
Once your account is up, you’ll need to provide credit card details for the monthly fee of $14.99, billed every 30 days. As the unit uses T-Mobile cellular technology, you’ll need to agree to a one-year commitment as per T-Mobile’s terms. Be aware that canceling the plan early incurs a $100 termination fee.
Although activating your unit is straightforward, don’t worry if you face any issues. Zoombak provides 24/7 customer service support and a “live-chat” option from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., EST
Zoombak Activation Complete
After setting up your account and activating the data plan, the Zoombak GPS tracker requires a 24-hour initial charge. Note that this can affect your timing if immediate tracking is needed. The device has an LED light that flashes amber when the battery is low, turns steady amber when charging, and glows green when fully charged. When operational, the light flashes green. You can also choose to receive email or text alerts when the battery reaches 25% capacity or when the device turns off due to a drained battery.
Despite charging it for the required 24 hours and positioning it with a clear line of sight, our Zoombak failed to communicate with the server, meaning it couldn’t track positions or record data. We called Zoombak’s 24-hour customer care to resolve the issue. While 24-hour support sounds promising, the customer support team in Costa Rica seemed unprepared for technical issues. Their responses seemed scripted, which made them come across as unprofessional.
After determining that our Zoombak was defective, we had to exchange it at the electronics store where it was purchased, restarting the entire setup process. If you purchase a Zoombak, keep in mind that while its setup and functions are straightforward, there could be hiccups along the way that require troubleshooting and patience.
Related Article: Best GPS Tracking Devices With Long Battery Life
How Is Zoombak Tracking Data Accessed
Once your Zoombak tracker is activated and working, you might be wondering how to access the tracking data. The Zoombak is a web-based application, allowing you to check your vehicle’s location from any internet-enabled computer. You can also receive location updates via text messages by texting “find” to 96225.
Zoombak also offers the feature of creating “safety zones” around specific locations, like your home. If the tracker enters or leaves these zones, you’ll receive an alert via email or text.
However, Zoombak’s continuous tracking capabilities are limited. It can track continuously for only one hour with 5-minute updates before requiring human interaction. And after 12 hours of 5-minute updates, the battery will drain completely. It can record roughly 150 times with 5-minute updates before the battery dies, or last five days without updates. Due to its compact size, it needs frequent recharging.
When viewing tracking data online, Zoombak uses Microsoft’s Virtual Earth as its mapping engine. You can view tracking history over a plain street map, satellite image, or bird’s eye view, giving a comprehensive look at the tracker’s location. However, the software lacks the feature to zoom in or out in the bird’s eye view, and it doesn’t offer detailed written tracking history for tracking mileage or business trips. Thus, if you need detailed written reports, this software might not meet your needs.
Beginning to Track With Zoombak
After the replacement, we set up the Zoombak for the second time and it was ready to start real-time GPS tracking. The device’s small size (2.87” x 1.69” x 0.82”) suggested placement flexibility, yet the manual recommended the front dashboard or glove box only. These positions allow a direct line of sight to the sky for signal acquisition. However, the lack of mounting options restricts placement to the vehicle’s cab only.
This could be useful for parents monitoring their teen’s driving, but isn’t suitable for law enforcement GPS tracking in criminal investigations. We then tested the GPS acquisition and accuracy in the suggested locations, and under the passenger seat as an additional test.
Zoombak on the Dashboard: Clear Line of Sight
The dashboard is the top suggested spot for the Zoombak tracker. It provides a clear view of the sky, resulting in the quickest GPS acquisition and better accuracy. Upon placement, it acquired a GPS signal in 10 seconds, pinpointing the exact parking spot. However, if stealth is desired, this placement isn’t ideal, given its noticeable blinking green light.
Zoombak in the Glove Box: Concealed but Accessible
Next, we tested the glove box, another recommended location for Zoombak. Here, Zoombak acquired a signal in 15 seconds, with an accuracy within 10 to 20 feet. This is due to GPS signals being able to penetrate materials like plastic, glass, rubber, and cloth. However, for parents tracking teen drivers or employers monitoring company vehicles, this visible and accessible location could lead to easy device removal.
Zoombak Under the Passenger Seat: A Reasonable Alternative
Zoombak’s manual doesn’t suggest under-seat placement, but we tested it anyway. Impressively, the unit acquired a signal in 25 seconds, with good accuracy (within 22 feet). For those wanting a more covert placement, Zoombak offers a hardwiring service for $59.99, which securely installs the device in a chosen location.
Zoombak Under the Vehicle: Not Recommended
Unfortunately, due to lack of mounting capabilities, Zoombak cannot be installed under the vehicle.
Special Features of Zoombak:
In the highly competitive GPS tracking device market, the Zoombak falls behind in some key areas when it comes to special features. One major drawback is its inability to track the speed of a vehicle. For concerned parents worried about their teen’s reckless driving habits, this device wouldn’t provide the necessary insights. While it can provide location updates when “pinged,” it lacks the ability to detect high speeds like 94mph on the interstate, depriving you of potentially life-saving information.
The continuous tracking feature allows updates every five minutes for an hour, with a countdown clock recording the unit’s positions during that time. However, once the hour is up, the data takes up to four hours to transfer to the historical tracking section, causing delays in accessing crucial information. This could be counterproductive in urgent business or personal situations where immediate access is needed, such as addressing an employee or teen about their driving history.
Furthermore, the Zoombak fails to record precise GPS coordinates like longitude and latitude positions. It can only pinpoint a range of addresses within up to 110 yards of the exact location. This level of accuracy falls significantly short compared to competing GPS tracking devices that provide 6 to 8 ft. precision.
Conclusion – Testing Zoombak GPS Tracker: From Excitement to Disappointment
Our initial enthusiasm about testing the compact, reasonably-priced ($199.00) Zoombak GPS tracker soon dwindled. We hoped for a straightforward process when setting up the account and activating the device online, but we faced hurdles.
The first unit turned out to be defective, the customer service failed to answer basic queries, and the limited battery life required frequent recharging. This transitioned our initial excitement into frustration.
While the continuous tracking feature was accurate, maintaining battery life was a constant challenge. The device could only run for around 12 hours with continuous tracking before power loss. Additionally, data could take up to four hours to save in the historical tracking section after the continuous tracking ended.
The Microsoft Virtual Earth mapping system was user-friendly. Despite the basic road mapping, the aerial and bird’s eye view mapping was remarkable. However, Zoombak fell short by not providing additional tools like activity or text reports. These could offer a written record of the vehicle tracking history for important tasks like mileage tracking.
Pros vs. Cons: Summary of Zoombak Review
- Compact size for easy mounting
- Attractive packaging
- User-friendly start-up and activation features
- Tracking data easily accessed
- Continuous tracking feature
- Water-resistant exterior
- Microsoft virtual earth satellite mapping
- Reasonable monthly fee (only $14.99)
- The customer Service Support Center operates 24/7
- “Live Chat” option is available daily 11 AM – 8 PM EST
- Initial 24-hour battery charge prior to activation
- Inadequate customer support team
- Inability to track continuously for more than one hour w/5 minute updates
- Requires re-charging on a frequent basis due to little room for a sufficient battery supply
- Restricted placement options make it difficult to conceal the unit
- Lacks vehicle speed tracking capabilities
- Does not record GPS coordinates such as latitude and longitude positions
- Mapping capabilities do not include additional tools such as activity and text reports
The Bottom Line:
From shelf appeal to activation, the Zoombak gives a great first impression. However, once the device is set up and ready to begin tracking, the inadequate engineering quickly diminishes the initial expectations. The bottom line is, when you purchase one of the least expensive GPS tracking systems on the market, you ultimately get what you pay for.
Update: Zoombak was acquired by Brickhouse Security and is no longer an independent brand