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Locate your kid, dog, suitcase or whatever with GeoZilla's $45 GPS tracker

The real news is the cellular service pricing: As little as $2.78 per month.

- 03:11

The GeoZilla GPS Tracker is compact, yet it pulls location data from satellites and transmits it over GSM cellular networks.

Rick Broida/CNET

True story: A couple years back, some friends of ours couldn't locate their daughter. She went missing for something like eight hours -- eight of the most terrifying hours imaginable. Thankfully, she turned up safe and sound, but the next day they immediately started shopping for some kind of GPS locator. Technology absolutely should be able to prevent such situations, whether it's a child, dog, suitcase or anything else you want to be able to locate immediately. And it should be affordable.

Today, it is: For a limited time, Cheapskate readers can get the GeoZilla GPS Tracker for $45 (plus whatever service plan you choose at checkout; see below) with promo code GZCHRISTMAS. That's only $5 off the regular price, but $50 for such a device is already extremely cheap.

So the tracker is cheap, but the cellular service -- which is what actually transmits the GPS data to your phone -- is going to cost an arm and leg, right?

Surprisingly, no: It's a very reasonable $4.99 per month, and even cheaper if you prepay for one year ($50) or three years ($100). The latter plan works out to about $2.78 per month, certainly the most affordable option I know of for a dedicated GPS tracker.

You might be familiar with GeoZilla from its original incarnation: an app-powered family-locator service. You don't need to use that service to use the tracker, but, oy, be prepared for incessant bugging about it. In fact, when I first tried to set things up within the app, I was confused because it wanted me to get a quarterly subscription -- at $49.99 per quarter. Wait, wasn't this supposed to be $4.99 per month (or less)?

This is almost a deal-breaker, because you can't use the app without getting constant come-ons for the family-locator subscription. And there are other issues, too: The tracker's rechargeable battery is good for only 48-72 hours, and there's no way to check battery status either within the app or on the device itself. It also beeps loudly when the battery gets low, and there's no way to disable that sound or lower the volume.

There are three small buttons on the tracker, all close together, only one of them labeled ("SOS"). Pressing either the left or right button will send a text or email to a designated member of your circle. The message: "Left button pressed" or "Right button pressed." Um, what? There's no way to customize the message? Nope.

I think nearly all these issues can be corrected, and I hope they will be, because the GeoZilla GPS Tracker is an otherwise impressive device -- especially given the pricing. It supports geofencing, speed alerts (like if you want to make sure your teen isn't going bananas behind the wheel) and movement alerts. It comes with a hard-plastic case, a wrist lanyard and a pouch for attaching to, say, a dog collar or backpack.

But, man, the app is killing me. If you happen to be a GeoZilla subscriber already, you're good. But if you just want to use the locator, annoyance awaits you.

Your thoughts?

Note: Originally published earlier this year. Updated to reflect new sale prices and/or availability. Removed expired bonus deal.

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