Proximo Proximity Monitoring System (Starter Kit) review: Simple and effective, but pricey

From the app, you can customize a few options, like the sensitivity range for each individual tag, which lets you determine how far you can wander off until the alarm will sound. You can also turn off the alarm altogether, and choose your alarm sounds, both the one that'll emit from the tags and the one that'll blare away on your phone.

One feature I found useful was that you can customize the picture of the fob and tag in your app, so you know exactly what object belongs to what tracking unit. You can either use a photo from your camera (it'll later let you crop and adjust the picture), upload a saved photo from your gallery, or choose a simple preloaded icon like a key or a camera.

To locate an item, tap the magnifying-glass icon next to the object you want to find. If you wander too far or the connection is lost between your handset and the fob, the magnifier icon will change into a pin that says "Locate" and bring up a map of where your tracked piece was last located before it got disconnected.

General app settings include turning off "background operations." This is a nifty toggle that lets you turn off the entire Proximo system quickly. You can also set the app to override your phone's alarm volume altogether.

Performance
In general, the monitoring ecosystem works well and consistently. After I tapped "Find" in the app, the corresponding tag's alarm sounded off almost a few seconds after. And I, as well as those who sit near my desk, can attest that the alarms are loud. I could easily hear it from the other side of a small apartment, in another room, even when it was buried inside a backpack.

Furthermore, the "last seen" module was accurate in pinpointing the general area where my item was last. But don't expect a lot of details. While it's useful if you use a tag to keep track of your car (and where you last parked it), you can't see where in a building you left your keys, and so forth. However, it can show you how far away (in feet) you currently are from its last known location.

Proximo screenshot
On the left are the belongings I want to keep track of (my keys and camera bag). The right screenshot shows you where one of my items was last seen and how far away I am from its last reported location. Lynn La/CNET

In addition, compared with the ZOMM Wireless Leash, setup was much easier. I didn't have to wait for the iPhone's Bluetooth to search for a Proximo device, there was no multifunctional-button pressing, and the green light made it clear whether or not pairing was successful. I only needed to do one long-press per tag to be up and running.

The app itself is also intuitive and easy to use, and has a very polished look to it. Menu items and icons are easy to read, and the fact that each tag shows information about its battery status is helpful. There are also troubleshooting and help tabs handy in case you run into any difficulties.

However, the Proximo system does have a few problems. For one, there is no way to sample different phone alarm sounds. You can play a preview of your tags' alarms, but not of your handset's, for some reason. There are about seven tones you can choose from, and the only way you can hear them is if you manually set each one off after selecting it as your alarm.

Second, when you page your smartphone using the key fob, a notification will pop up on your iPhone, but you'll need to launch the app to turn off the alarm. This doesn't take much time, but it would be better to be able to immediately dismiss the alarm without having to open up Proximo, especially if you've enabled a lock screen code.

Lastly, while I find the proximity graphic colorful and sleek, it gives you absolutely no information on how far these ranges measure. There are five sensitivity fields: lowest, low, medium, higher, and highest sensitivity. Kensington reps told me that the maximum range of the monitoring system (so, lowest sensitivity) is 50 feet. In my personal experience, when the Proximo was set on highest sensitivity, alarms would sound once I walked a few steps away. But the exact distances of the ranges in between those two are unclear. However, just on general calculations, it's safe to assume then that the "medium" range would be somewhere around 25 feet.

Conclusion
Whether or not you need a device such as the Proximo Proximity Monitoring System depends entirely on how forgetful you are and how important your belongings are to you. If you're already in the market for an electronic leash, this ecosystem of tags and key fobs is simple to use and I'd recommend it over ZOMM's monitoring system (despite it having a built-in speaker) just based on sheer ease of use and because it's cheaper. But if you're generally diligent about keeping an eye on your items, hold on to your $60 instead.

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    Proximo Proximity Monitoring System - Starter Kit

    Part Number: K39565US Released: 8 Jan 2013
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications

    • Regional specs shown for US. AU specs are unavailable.

    • Release date 8 Jan 2013