Disclaimer: I was part of the Kickstarter campaign which didn’t result in funding, but the nice people at R2PPet sent out a free PAL to everyone who did support them.
Keeping active and getting regular exercise are important for people and pets alike. With the explosion of human activity trackers (like the FitBit, Wifi connected scales, calorie tracking apps) came the existence of several pet trackers.
I backed the Kickstarter campaign because I was looking for an affordable tracker. Some trackers, like the Whistle, offer more features like live-GPS tracking, but all I needed was something to monitor steps, track rest time, and nutrition. At under $50, the Details Pet Activity Link fit the bill.
It arrived in a very nice retail box, with everything I needed to get started including a battery, and a link to the required free app. The production devices come in seven colors, but I received a blue one. The box contains the PAL unit, a Quick Start Guide, and a FCC statement sheet. I was initially disappointed in the lack of information, but found that the documents answered all my questions and did get me started quickly. As of this writing (5/10/16), the accompanying website was still under development and didn’t have an FAQ.
Setup was very easy. Literally, you just have to push the button on the back of the unit using a paperclip and tracking starts; you are good to go.
It is well designed, and they advertise it as “weatherproof”, but are careful to say it is not waterproof. The device is made from rugged yet light plastic, and the battery compartment seals with a rubber gasket.
Attaching the unit to your dogs collar is very easy and the band loops back onto itself to keep it securely connected.
The app download was fast, and discovered the device quickly. There is a battery monitor in the app showing the remaining charge. The battery is not rechargeable, but it is a common watch battery you can buy at Best Buy or most department or jewelry stores. The expected charge is expected to last four months. Aside from the internal components, there is a red LED inside the housing that flashes when data is transmitting from the device.
The sync speed is good at about 45 seconds to a minute, but since so little data has to be uploaded to the phone, I expected it to be shorter. I chose a time just before bed, or while watching TV when my fuzzy buddy wasn’t moving. The phone has to be in range and the unit was always within 5 feet of my phone during a sync.
The app is useful, colorful and well-designed. It allows you to set nutrition, activity, and rest goals, and when data is available, shows your pets percentage to each goal. I would have liked to see a “Sync Now” button rather than having to choose a date, select one of the three modes (rest, activity, nutrition), then pressing Sync. You are provided with weekly graphs with percents and totals.
After a successful sync, you get a fun “Award” screen showing progress. I couldn’t figure out the best way or time to download the data. Sometimes it wouldn’t return any data despite our daily walk, other times the data would seem a bit high. I don’t know if their proprietary algorithm needs some tweaking or if the PAL unit needs to be under the chin to record accurately (sometimes the unit would be on the side of the neck).
There are several other trackers out on the market including the Whistle, FitBark, and the SafePet Bark & Activity Monitor. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and fills a niche. From the basic PetSafe product which has more of a pedometer feel and PC but no mobile device support, to the mid-range FitBark and Details PAL (approximately $70 & $30 respectively) to the high-end Whistle (approximately $80 plus monthly subscription) there is a tracker out there for all budgets and desires.