If you just start to google for the cheapest GPS tracker, you’ll likely find a plenty of “no name” GPS tracking devices. Sometimes they even look good in the ad, but actually often don’t provide accurate positioning, let alone extra features. Low sensitivity of fusty GPS modules and buggy are the main reasons that drive users to discouraging experience and disappointing about the GPS tracking technology itself. Even if price is a matter, we’d recommend to keep out of such devices.
Hopefully cheap device does not always mean bad quality. Quite the contrary, if you buy a low-cost device from a well known brand, you likely to get a reliable device, though with the limited functionality. These devices are expressly designed for mass applications, where users rarely ask for special requirements: information about real-time location and trips history are everything they want. DIY-installation adds one more benefit for decision of buying a budget GPS tracker. Common applications are tracking of private vehicles and small fleets.
How do budget GPS trackers differ from each other?
Now, if you understood your needs and avoided frustration by wisely choosing a manufacturer, there are still certain aspects you should take into consideration. To slash the prices without affecting the quality manufacturers of GPS trackers have to remove some of the features that are peculiar to more expensive devices. Let’s point them out.
- Backup battery. It is used to work while the ignition is switched off. A tracker keeps working and locates its position for a vehicle owner.
- Accelerometer. A G-sensor is often used for detecting the movement state. When the vehicle stops for parking the GPS tracker don’t update its location to the tracking server too frequently, thus avoiding redundant GPRS traffic consumption and unwanted dispersion of the coordinates on stop. If there is no built-in accelerometer, most likely it is substituted with a special wire which user has to connect to ACC: this is bit different (worse) and also means more wires to connect during the installation.
- External antennas. A low-sensitive GPS receiver often needs an external device to catch satellite signal. External antenna may increase a signal level.
- Tracking modes. This is not exactly about the hardware side, but about the firmware – also relates to the device. Try to figure out how flexible the settings for desired tracking modes are. It’s better to have wider options in tracking: by time interval, by distance and by direction change. It will help to get clear tracks, which are very close to actual vehicle movements.
- Cell ID (LBS) location. It is a backup method of navigation when there is no GPS signal or this signal is very low. For example, it can be when a vehicle is on an underground parking or long tunnel.
- Non-volatile memory. Is used for data logging when a device loses a GPS signal or move outside the GSM coverage area. After the reestablishing connection, collected data will be transmitted to a server. Some devices don’t have built-in memory, but allow to install a SD card (means extra spendings).
Examples for low-budget GPS trackers
There are some examples of popular budget-class AVL trackers: