TrackPort GPS Vehicle Tracker review:

TrackPort GPS Vehicle Tracker

Data collected includes position and speed data from an internal GPS receiver and OBD-II data collected from the port that powers the dongle. You monitor the TrackPort by signing up for an account with BrickHouse Security and accessing an online portal after logging in with a username and password. From the Web portal, you can view the TrackPort's current position or a historical breadcrumb trail of the places that it's been for a selected time period. You can also set up alerts that can be delivered to an e-mail address when certain criteria are met. Alerts can be set for excessive vehicle speed, when the vehicle's battery reaches a certain low threshold, and when a geofence is crossed. A geofence is a virtual boundary that you can set using the online interface. So, you can place a boundary on the map around your home, your office, or your garage and receive a message alert when the vehicle leaves or enters any of those areas.

I found the Web-based software to be a bit clunky and unintuitive. I'd imagine that it would be difficult to understand for older or non-tech-savvy users. However, you'll probably only need to set up the alerts once, so it'll be easier once you get everything set up.

BrickHouse interface on smartphone
There's no iPhone or Android app, but the Web interface scales for mobile use. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Additionally, there are no specific apps for Android, iPhone, or other smartphone app platforms. Instead, you can head to the online portal to view on any HTML5-compatible phone.

In sum
The TrackPort hardware retails for $169.95, and the service plan that you'll need to make use of it will run you $29.95 per month. At time of testing, BrickHouse is offering the hardware at a discount, dropping the price to $139.95, which brings the entry price well below that of the recently tested Live Trac EZ, which is similar in design and function. The monthly monitoring costs for these two devices are also identical, averaging out to about $360 per year. Whether that's $360 well-spent will depend on how much the monitored vehicle or the passengers within are worth to you and who or what you're trying to protect the vehicle from.

While a black box like the TrackPort may help you catch some car thieves and aid in the recovery of a stolen vehicle, I think that a smart criminal (as oxymoronic as that sounds) would be savvy enough to check for and remove the device before getting too far. Still, some protection is better than none. It's my belief that a device like the TrackPort is better suited for keeping tabs on a teen driver, keeping family members or roommates from borrowing your expensive wheels without asking, or just giving your loved ones peace of mind. If that's what you're after in shopping for a GPS black box, then the TrackPort's ability to let you know where your car is at all times may very well be worth the dough.

What you'll pay

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