Last year, Gadling was one of the first sites in the world to bring you a full review of the nio Bluetooth property security tag. Since then, several other companies have popped up with similar products, but nio remains the first to market, giving them quite a bit of street cred. Almost a year has passed since that review, and this week, nio released version 2.0 of their tag, along with upgraded software options.
In the original review, the tag hardware worked perfectly, but the software appeared to be a tad buggy – I’m happy to report that those issues are long gone. I’ve taken the original nio tag on a couple of trips with the latest Android app, and it hasn’t failed me once.
If you missed the review last year – let me remind you what nio can do. The tag tethers to your mobile phone, and stays in constant contact with the software app. As soon as the two are separated, alarms sound on the tag and on your phone. This makes it ideal for monitoring luggage, digital cameras and even kids. Inside the nio tag is also a motion sensor, which allows you to keep an even closer watch on a bag – perfect if you think you might take a nap in an airport lounge.
The new nio tag looks slicker – the original nio tag looked a little “industrial”, but the new 2.0 nio is more rounded and just looks nicer. Weight and general size are the same.
As I previously mentioned, the software used to be a little buggy – but the new apps are brilliant. Apps are available for Windows Mobile (up to 6.5) Blackberry, Symbian S60, Java and Android. Inside the software, you can monitor up to two tags at the same time.
The software controls every aspect of the nio tag – the only button on the tag is a small reset button. Powering tags on or off, resetting alarms, creating a monitoring schedule and enabling the locator beep or motion detector is all done inside the app.
Using nio on a trip
On a trip, using nio is very easy – before you leave, you turn nio on, and your phone keeps in touch with the tag. As long as you and your bags are not separated, you’ll be fine. But as soon as the distance between the two is too great, it’ll set off the alarm.
This obviously means you run the risk of an alarm mid-flight – which means it is very important to turn nio off when you board the plane. If you follow the crew member instructions, you’ll be turning your phone off, and the loss of Bluetooth means the tag will think you’ve abandoned it, setting off the alarm. So – open the app, and turn off the tag as soon as you board the plane. Alternatively, you can set up a scheduled alarm which will turn the device off during your flight.
Nio charges off MiniUSB, and a charger cord is included (but no AC charger) so you’ll need to use an existing AC adapter or plug into your computer.
The original nio was very good, but the newly designed tag and updated software make it a real winner. At $59.95 it is well priced (apps are free to download) and a worthy investment if you regularly travel with expensive gear. The tag is reliable, and in my tests, it triggered an alarm every time it was expected.
To learn more about nio, or to purchase your own tag, head on over to bluenio.com.