Live Trac EZ review: Live Trac EZ

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.3
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The LiveViewGPS Live Trac EZ uses your vehicle's OBD connection, a GSM data connection, and a GPS receiver to provide vehicle tracking. Users can monitor vehicle position, speed, ignition state, and fuel level and economy from a map-based Web site. There's no battery to recharge or wires to splice during installation; simply plug in and go.

The Bad We experienced a connectivity issue that may compromise the Live Trac EZ's ability to be used as a vehicle security measure. LiveViewGPS' Web interface isn't the most intuitive that we've tested.

The Bottom Line The Live Trac EZ is one of the simplest GPS vehicle trackers that we've tested, providing plug-and-play monitoring and notifications for a reasonable price.

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Design
We've reviewed portable GPS tracking devices before. We've also reviewed installed vehicle GPS tracking devices. However, what makes LiveViewGPS' Live Trac EZ interesting are its ease of installation and its level of integration with the vehicle.

The smallish device only measures about 1.8 inches long by 1.5 inches wide by 0.86 inch thick and plugs directly into your vehicle's onboard diagnostics (OBD) port. When plugged in, the EZ only protrudes about 1.5 inches. Depending on where your vehicle's port is located, the Live Trac EZ's low profile will most likely keep it well hidden from casual observers when plugged in. However, I've seen OBD ports located in some odd places (some Volvo vehicles I've driven that put the port right next to the driver's right foot spring to mind) so you'll want to check out your vehicle's port placement to be sure that the EZ won't be in danger of being struck by a swinging leg during driving or entering and exiting the vehicle. In our test vehicle, a 2012 Jaguar XKR-S, the OBD port was located just beneath the dashboard, about where many vehicles locate the hood release lever.


The Live Trac EZ simply plugs into your vehicle's OBD port.

The OBD connection that makes the Live Trac EZ ridiculously easy to install also makes the device ridiculously easy for a clever thief to find and disable. A device such as the Escort Entourage may be harder to install, but its two-wire connection means that it can also be hidden anywhere in the vehicle.

Web interface and features
Once installed, the Live Trac EZ establishes a connection with your vehicle's diagnostics system, determines its GPS position and speed, and communicates all of that data via a GSM data connection to LiveViewGPS' servers. A trio of LED lights indicates when the EZ is accessing any of these three connections. After registering for a service plan, you can then track your vehicle via a Web interface. Position data is grabbed once every 10 seconds on the default service plan, allowing users to watch and replay the vehicle's position on a live updating map at any time at live.liveviewgps.com.

The historical playback function is particularly interesting, for example, for parents who want to keep an eye on the comings and goings of a teen driver. After selecting March 16, for example, I was able replay my trip where I accompanied CNET's Eric Franklin to a midnight iPad launch, followed by a few hours in which the vehicle remained parked while I slept, and ultimately along a twisty back-road route that I took with fellow Car Tech editor Wayne Cunningham to put the Jag through its paces.


I was able to track my 24-hour odyssey around the San Francisco Bay Area with the LiveViewGPS Web interface.

At each of the 10-second data points, I was able to view vehicle position, speed, and direction of travel, but you can get that level of data from any GPS tracker. The Live Trac EZ's OBD connection gives it access to even more data, including more accurate speed data, fuel economy information, and vehicle fuel level--so you can double-check that the tank actually was full before you loaned your keys to that friend.

Although we didn't have any problem navigating the LiveViewGPS Web site, the interface can be a bit cluttered and overwhelming for less "tech-savvy" users. Because LiveView's site is designed to be used with the variety of devices that it provides for personal and fleet vehicle management, there are a lot of leftover elements and dialog boxes that the Live Trac EZ user simply will have no use for. For example, clicking on the vehicle icon on the map displays options for starter disable, door unlock, and remote start, among others. None of these functions are supported by the EZ. We'd like a more content-aware interface that edits out inaccessible features.

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Where to Buy

Live Trac EZ

Part Number: CNETLiveTrac-EZ

MSRP: $399.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

About The Author

Antuan Goodwin gained most of his automotive knowledge the old fashioned way, by turning wrenches in a driveway and picking up speeding tickets. From drivetrain tech and performance to car audio installs and cabin tech, if it's on wheels, Antuan is knowledgeable. Email Antuan, follow him on Twitter, or like him on Facebook. Antuan