Hardware and software
The premise of the Cobra Tag is simple. Hook it onto your key ring (or any other valuable you misplace often), download the app on your Android (2.1 or higher) or BlackBerry smartphone -- sorry folks, Windows Phone, iOS and Symbian devices aren't included, which could be a result of limitations on the OS side -- and allow the two devices to find each other. Since the Tag uses Bluetooth to connect, you'll naturally need to make sure the radio is on. Once the two devices are attached, you can use one of them to find the other as long as they're within a 30-foot radius. If one goes out of range, you can be notified in a variety of ways: an email, text message or even social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook.
Are you looking for your phone? Press and hold the Cobra Tag button down and the phone (provided it's powered on, of course) will begin playing a song of your choosing. What about your keys? You can go into the app and tell it to start ringing the Tag, after which an extremely annoying high-pitched signal will begin emanating from it. If you lose your keys often, all of the dogs in the neighborhood will love you. How about if both your keys and
phone are gone? Tough luck, soldier -- Cobra Tag unfortunately can't do much for you in that situation.
There isn't much to the Cobra Tag's hardware. It's meant to be small and light enough to easily attach it to your key ring and not weigh down your pocket or purse, and only consists of a single button, LED indicator light that can flash red or blue, and a microUSB charging port. That one button does everything you need: a one-second click will turn it on, a long press while connected will ring the phone, and a ten-second long press will power the Tag off.
The app itself has a simple interface on both smartphone platforms. When you first enter the program, you'll be prompted to connect the Cobra Tag to the phone; after this, you'll be allowed to move on and customize your settings. You can see how much charge remains on your Tag and how close it is to your position (this comes in handy when searching around the house, as it will tell you whether you're getting closer to or farther away from the device). In addition, you can opt to lock your phone when it's out of range, you can change your notification options, and even disable your connection with the Cobra Tag if you know you're going to be more than 30 feet away from it in the near future. Fortunately, the app runs quietly in the background so it doesn't get in the way of other tasks.
Notifications and locks
As mentioned earlier, the Cobra Tag has the ability to help you find your lost items whether they're stuck somewhere in the house or hanging out in the lost and found at your local Denny's. But how? It uses a customizable system that will send you (and others) alerts whenever you're more than 30 feet away from either device. If you leave your phone behind, the Tag will beep to let you know you've moved too far away from the phone. The app can also automatically send an email showing your device's current GPS coordinates, altitude, and other stats to help you retrace your steps; this email can be sent to any
email address, and multiple points of contact can be added if you'd like your family or friends to be on the lookout as well. Lastly, you can choose to have Cobra deliver a text message and send a tweet or Facebook status update to everyone you know. Just don't tell it to SMS your own phone -- that's likely the very item you've lost, so it wouldn't do you much good.
If you have sensitive information on your device, Cobra has tossed in an option to password-protect your phone once you're out of range. Choose a password, the length of time you'd like the program to wait before it locks your handset (which stretches from right away up to a full day), and even leave a personalized message to let others know how to reach you if they find your phone.
The Cobra Tag worked well through the course of our testing and, when left on the entire time, lasted seven days on a single charge. It's a simple enough concept that there really isn't much to how the device manages and functions. We all hope that nothing will happen to our valuables, but horrible things occur constantly. Using a device like the Cobra Tag is a preventative measure to take just in case our phone or keys get lost, and can definitely help us find them much faster and easier.
Granted, the idea of the Cobra Tag has been done before. So many phones wind up missing every day that dozens of services, such as GPS tracking and remote device wipe, exist solely to help protect them. However, the Tag is set apart from the crowd by adding a two-way communication system between it and your handset -- in essence, it acts like an invisible leash. It merits a consideration for that reason alone. As difficult as it may seem to justify spending your hard-earned George Washingtons on something of this nature, ultimately your smartphone costs much more than that. It's true that you've learned to survive this long without the Cobra Tag, but if peace of mind (and time saved) is worth more than the cost of the product, that's all the reason you'll need to get it -- provided you have an Android or BlackBerry, of course.