We’ve seen something very like the Protag Duet before. And I’m being quite literal about that. The Protag Duet could be cousins with the Chipolo Bluetooth finder-thingy, for a variety of reasons.
They both come in a selection of interesting colours. They’re both Bluetooth finder-thingies and they both connect to your phone using an app. Finally, they were both crowdfunded – the Chipolo got its start via Kickstarter in 2013, the Protag’s origin tale happened on IndieGoGo circa 2014. See? Cousins.
One is prettier
The Duet is a rounded square section of thin plastic that comes with a small tether and attachment for securing the Duet to your keyring – it is the use I’d be most likely to put the Duet to, as those keys have a mind of their own. It also comes with two batteries, in a standard size, for powering the little Bluetooth attachment. Lastly, there’s a thin sliver to two-sided tape (circular) for securing the Duet to something like your luggage or another item that is frequently misplaced.
Inside the Duet is a little light, which is supposed to light up the whole unit when you’re attempting to sync the device to the app. It didn’t, but it’s supposed to. There’s also a small button, made from hard plastic, that is pushed to either set up the Duet for syncing or to ring your smartphone when you’ve lost it. Overall it’s not a bad design but there is too much space inside the Duet itself, the battery is a pain to insert and remove and it could be quite easy to have the whole thing fall apart if you put it together incorrectly.
So it’s not the prettiest flower in the bunch. How does it work, in that case? A little strangely, actually.
What is supposed to happen is that users can sync up to 10 Protag Duet units (one for each piece of luggage and/or electronics) to the app and track their whereabouts from there. Move out of range of the tags with your phone or vice versa and your tags and your phone are supposed to start beeping or ringing to notify you that something important has been left behind.
In reality, there is a slight delay when it comes to ‘losing’ your items. Using the purely scientific method (again) of leaving my phone somewhere and wandering off with the Duet, the alarm started sounding on the phone – once I got back within range. The tag? That didn’t make any noise at all. It does work quite nicely by buzzing the tag using the app interface and you can also use the side-mounted button on the tag itself to make your phone ring.
But there’s also a more Alien method of finding your missing gear if you’re within Bluetooth range. I’m referring to the not-very-accurate radar screen that looks like a WiFi signal strength indicator, which lets you know approximately how close you are to finding that thing that has slipped down the side of the couch. If it’s a bit further afield, you’re going to need to resort to the world map but that hinges on other folks nearby also having the app – for a properly accurate reading, anyway. Otherwise, you’ll be directed to where it was last seen.
Do you need a Duet? Depends, if you’re chronically losing items then yes, it might be a plan. But if you have no use for the superior Chipolo option then getting a Duet is a definite no. It does what it sets out to do, though the actual execution is sometimes a bit wonky. It marks itself as the odder cousin in the distantly-relationed world of Bluetooth finder-thingies but it at least won’t break the bank if you do decide to try one out. It’s only R300, after all, a fairly small price to pay to find out where you’ve lost your smartphone this time. Such a shame that it likes to make most of its noise once you’ve unsynced the Duet from the app, necessitating a quick battery removal.