Our back-to-back testing for the two devices was fairly straightforward: we paired them both to a BlackBerry Storm, enabled the Phone Halo app, and wandered off. However, we quickly found that the two seemed to be interfering with each other, triggering at random distances (or not at all) when held close together. So, we did it one at a time, and reliably found the ZOMM to trigger at about 30-feet, pulsing and vibrating for a few seconds before letting loose on its full alarm. When walking back to the phone the ZOMM would turn itself back off, but the distance that it would do so seemed rather less consistent -- sometimes popping off when about 10 feet away, sometimes not silencing until sitting next to the phone. We're guessing this is due to the phone taking more or less time to re-establish a connection.
But, it did at least reliably turn itself off, whereas the Phone Halo does not. Set on the "Very Far" distance the Phone Halo took about 50-feet to trigger its shrill alarm and, once triggered, it never shut up again. You have to push a very tiny button on the front to silence the thing, impossible to do without pulling it out of your pocket, and even then it's a bit of a challenge. The ZOMM, on the other hand, was easy to manually silence -- even while still pocketed.
Of course, when the Phone Halo is singing so too is the phone it's connected to, and, if the two have become disconnected, there's no way to silence that remotely. So, if you leave your phone at your desk and go to a meeting you can shush the Phone Halo in your pocket -- but your co-workers are liable to throw your handset out the window after it rings for 20 minutes straight. This is a situation you're especially likely to cause if when using the "Always Something There to Remind Me" ringtone...
Ultimately both devices worked as advertised, but in testing them to verify that we came to the conclusion that working as advertised won't necessarily fit in with everyone's lifestyle. For those who simply want a way to get a warning when leaving their phone behind, the ZOMM fits the bill, and doubling as a speakerphone with the ability to make emergency calls also makes it a potential alternative to something like a LifeCall. (You know, the "I've fallen and I can't get up!" people.)
The Phone Halo, on the other hand, offers rather more functionality and does so at a lower price but, potentially, rather more annoyances too thanks to having not one but two alarms to accidentally set off. The hardware design leaves a bit to be desired compared to the ZOMM, but its software suite is quite comprehensive, making this a solid alternative for anyone wishing they could get a premium phone tracking app like Find My iPhone
on their BlackBerry or Android device.
Which would we buy? Well, looking back at the Nio
from a few months ago, neither of these exactly compares despite similar prices: again, the ZOMM will set you back $79.99, while the Phone Halo is $20 less at $59.99. For the ZOMM you're paying for a nice design and the voice capabilities; for the Phone Halo you're buying simpler hardware and a solid app. You'll have to decide which, if either, makes sense for you and your particular brand of absent-mindedness. For us, we'll be sticking with Post-its and bits of string tied on fingers -- no risk of accidental alarms there.