Pets that are missing are a major concern among pet owners. There are websites and social media pages dedicated to reuniting missing pets with their owner.. The clinic where I work at frequently get calls about missing pets and we have a bulletin board that is dedicated to missing pet posters. So there is a concerted effort to reunite loss pets with their owners. Common identification methods that can be used to help with locating missing pets include metal ID tags, rabies tags, and microchips being placed under the skin. Metal ID tags with the pet’s name and owner’s contact information are probably the most popular .Other means of identification includes a rabies tag with an associated veterinary clinic. The tag number is used to identify the patient in this case. The challenge with these identification methods are that tags can fall off. Microchips that are placed under the skin also have been popular as well. They involve placing a microchip with a specific identification number that is associated with the pet. This number is registered with a company with the pet’s information. The chip can be scanned and the number retrieved. A phone call is made to the company that registered the chip who then contacts the owner . This type of identification relies on availability of a microchip scanner.
Technology and Missing Pets
Fortunately, technology has advanced over the years resulting in newer more effective ways to locate missing pets. One of these ways are locating or tracking devices that can be placed on collars.
Radio collars are one of these devices that can help locate missing pets. They are most commonly used by hunters. These use a radio signal to transmit your pet’s location to a handheld device. Though these can be very effective, they require that you are within a certain range or distance of your pet to receive a location. Also, they are often more expensive than their GPS counterparts
There are also GPS collars which uses satellite signals and cellular networks to provide location information. GPS collars allow for a much larger range so pets can be located almost anywhere there is a good cellular signal. There are quite a few of these GPS collars available to pet owners with different functions. We at the Animal Doctor Blog was able to get our hands on the TKstar Pet GPS Tracker for review.
The TKstar Pet GPS Tracker is one of the least expensive pet GPS trackers on the market. I found that it costs an average of ~ $20-30 less than the most popular GPS trackers. Despite this, I still found that it has a lot of great features that the more expensive collars have. Below, I summarize what it offers. It features the ability to send and receive text messages to the device which reports location and battery status. You can actually call the device and listen to the surroundings which may aid with location. It also offers a mobile app available on the apple and android app stores. The app increases the functionality of the device by offering real live tracking and geo fence options. We will go into specifics about the features of the Tkstar Pet GPS tracker later. However to get the GPS tracker to work, you may need to acquire some additional items.
Additional items that may be needed
Smart phone with active data plan
For you to find the TKstar Pet GPS tracker of any value, you will need to have a smartphone with the capability of browsing the internet. The reason being is that this device relies on sending google map links via text message for location status reports. So you will need a smartphone with a reliable data plan. The smartphones that are recommended are either an Iphone or an Android powered phone. The application that is associated with this GPS collar is only available on the Apple and Android app stores.
The TKstar Pet GPS tracker requires a GSM SIM card to function. The most common companies that use GSM sim cards in their phones are AT&T and T-Mobile. Their SIM cards seem to work the best with this tracker. SIM cards can be purchased online or most retailers that sell phones. They average around 3-5$. They also come with most prepaid cell phones.
Prepaid cell phone
Whether you need a prepaid cell phone or not will depend on a couple of factors. If you already have an AT&T or T-mobile phone where you can access the Sim card then it is possible you can temporarily switch out SIM cards for activation. If you have a Verizon or Sprint phone then you will need to purchase a prepaid cellphone to activate your SIM card.
Sim card adapter
Sim cards typically comes in 3 different sizes: Micro, Nano, and Standard. The TKstar Pet GPS Tracker requires a standard size SIM card. The sim card adapter allows the Micro and Nano cards to be resized to a standard size. If you purchase the AT&T prepaid SIM card you may not need an adaptor because it comes in standard size. The T-mobile SIM card usually comes in Micro therefore requiring the adaptor if you wish to use T-mobile’s cellular network. A caveat to note with the AT&T card, even though it comes standard sized it may need to be resized to one of the smaller sizes if you plan to use it in an existing phone you may already have.
Getting the GPS tracker working
Once I had everything I needed , I had to insert the SIM card to turn on the device. A pair of tweezers or something small like a pen may be needed to make sure that the SIM card is able to click securely in place in the tracker. Once the SIM card was is in place, the indicators on the device will become a solid green and blue. A solid blue indicates that the device is searching for a GPS signal . Once a GPS signal is found the blue indicator will begin flashing. I initially had to go outside to an open sky with the device to get the GPS signal.
At this point you can send the device several text commands to see if this product is working for you. There are several text commands listed in the instruction manual that have various functions. The most common text commands you will use is for resetting the device, setting an administration number, and getting a location status. Any time you send a text message you should receive response after ~ 45-60 seconds indicating that device if functional.
Features of the TKstar Pet GPS Tracker
Waterproof: It is resistant to rain and normal water splashes . Not sure it can handle being completely submerged in water.
Functions with text commands: This is an advantage because you don’t have to rely solely on the phone app to get a location status. This avoids the requirement of data plan for this GPS tracker to work. You can also set it up so only your phone can send those commands.
Text notifications of battery life and location status: Let’s face it, if you are like me if the device is out of site, it is out of mind. Therefore it is likely you will forget that it needs to be charged. Not a problem with the TKstar Pet GPS Tracker. This device will regularly send notifications about battery status to remind you that the device has to be charged.
Call in listening function: You can call the device and it will send you the location of your pet or you have the option of listening in to the pet’s surroundings.
Real time tracking: This requires the use of the TKStar Pet GPS tracker mobile app. This function allows you to track your pets movement in real time with refreshing every 2 minutes.
Geo Fence: This feature also requires the use of the mobile app. Geo fence allow you to create a geographic boundary for your pet. Once your pet leaves that boundary, you will receive an alert which will help recover your pet quicker.
Long lasting battery: If the device is in sleep mode, the battery will last an average of 10 days.
Pros for the TKstar Pet GPS Tracker
Cost: It is generally less expensive than many of the GPS trackers on the market currently. Many of the Pet GPS trackers average a cost of about $100 or more plus a monthly subscription fee
Allow for use of a SIM card: The use of SIM cards has two major benefits. One benefit is there is some flexibility of which cellular network you can use since you can use either T-mobile or an AT&T SIM card. Also you have more control on what your monthly costs are since both AT&T and T-Mobile offer different options for their prepaid services.
Long lasting battery: This device has a pretty decent battery life so you are not worrying about charging the device frequently
Similar features offered as the more expensive devices: Many of the features offered in this device are similar to features offered on more expensive trackers.
Cons for the TKstar Pet GPS Tracker
Challenging to set up. I admit this device was initially challenging to get to work because the instructions are not the best. It is definitely not one of those devices that works right out of the box. I did include a video below demonstrating how to set the device up which will hopefully eliminate this for others.
Additional purchase of items may be required to get it to function. As I mentioned earlier, additional items that may be required includes a SIM card, prepaid cell phone, and a SIM card adapter. But even with these additional costs it still can end up less than other GPS trackers on the market.
Bulky for cats and small dogs: This device will work fine with large and medium breed dogs but breeds like Chihuahuas and Yorkies may find it too large. Also this device may not work well with most cats unless they are larger in size.
Additional monthly fee involved: Like most people, after spending money on a product, I don’t like to be surprised by a monthly charge. But this can’t be avoided with this or any other Pet GPS tracker. All GPS trackers require some monthly fee to operate because cellular networks are being used. At least with this device you have some control on how much you will pay per month.
Functionality depends on cellular service. The TKstar Pet GPS Tracker will only be functional where there is good cellular service. . Unfortunately no matter which GPS tracker you purchase, you can’t get around this.
Final overview of the TKstar Pet GPS Tracker
Overall I believe that the TKstar Pet GPS Tracker is a great affordable option for those who don’t want to spend over $100 on GPS pet collar. Despite its lower price it still has many of the great features that the more expensive collars have. Just plan to buy it for your larger pets.
Tips if interested in purchasing this product:
For fastest set up I recommend purchasing the AT&T Prepaid SIM card and activating the card online. If you don’t have an AT&T phone to activate, you can purchase a used phone on Ebay for about 6 dollars including shipping and handling. Sometimes retail stores run specials offers for prepaid phones for greatly reduced prices. I was able to get the prepaid phone I used for SIM card activation for only 5 $ brand new. Remember you can easily switch out SIM cards so you don’t need a prepaid cell phone for each tracker you purchase.
I recommend activating the SIM card online vs at the company store otherwise there are more likely to push a more expensive monthly plan that may not be necessary.
For the listed features of real live tracking and the Geo fence you may need to utilize a data plan which may increase the monthly costs. I used the real live tracking and did not need to use any data, but not sure if that will be same for everybody.
What I think the future may hold for tracking devices
Overall I think people want these devices smaller so there are not so bulky on their pets. I am aware that they may be coming out with a GPS product about the size of an ID tag that will not require regular charging. I believe it will work like a watch battery except that the whole device may need to be replaced after a few years.
The ideal device would be a microchip that had GPS capabilities so you won’t have to worry about the device being removed from the pet. I am sure that this technology exists but probably quite cost prohibitive. I imagine it would utilize wireless charging.
Thanks for taking the time to read my review on the TKstar Pet GPS Tracker. Hopefully my insight on the product is helpful in your decision on making a purchase. Make sure to watch the video below to get additional insight on the GPS tracker.
TKstar Pet GPS Tracker
Cost of Product9/10
Ease of Set up7/10
Bulk of Product8/10
- Some flexibility of network use
- Great Battery life
- Decent features
- Some control of monthly costs
- Bulky for small pets
- Challenging set up
- Additional purchases required
- Functionality depends on cellular service