BrickHouse Security's TrackPort is a two-part vehicle location system. Part one is a small black box that you install in the vehicle. This small dongle measures 2 inches wide by 0.93 inch thick by 2.25 inches long and connects directly to your car's OBD-II port, which is often located beneath the dashboard. (That 2.25-inch length includes the OBD-II connection; the actual protrusion when connected is closer to 2 inches.) This low profile makes it difficult to spot at a glance from outside the vehicle or from the driver's seat. In the case of the handful of vehicles that locate the OBD port on the center tunnel of the foot well, you may need to take care not to accidentally kick the TrackPort in daily use, potentially damaging the OBD connection or the black box itself. However, the vast majority of drivers will find that their vehicle's OBD-II port and the connected TrackPort are located out of harm's way.
The unit draws its power from the OBD-II port (along with vehicle data, which we'll discuss later), so installation is literally as simple as locating your vehicle's connection and plugging the TrackPort in. I also noticed -- after removing the TrackPort unit from my test car -- that the black box features an internal battery backup that it can also draw power from to continue reporting for a few hours after being removed. So, if a would-be thief unplugs the unit, you'll still receive an alert that it's been removed and, potentially, status updates until the battery is depleted.
The face of the unit is home to the aforementioned status lights: a Power indicator, a GPS/Cellular indicator, and a third indicator light that is not labeled in the user guide and never actually illuminated during our testing. There's also a small USB connection, presumably for firmware updates, and a covered slot for the included SIM card.
One of the TrackPort's strengths is its stealthiness. While a veteran car thief would probably be savvy enough to check for the black box and remove it, a neighborhood joyrider, a teenaged son or daughter sneaking the car out after hours, or a dishonest roommate taking your wheels for a spin when you're out of town might not. Boosting the stealthiness, the TrackPort's only on-device indicators are that trio of tiny LED status lights, which are still only barely visible when the two are illuminated. In the box with our TrackPort unit was a small strip of black fabric tape that is there to cover the SIM card slot and USB port, but I assume that you could also use it to cover those LEDs for an even more discreet appearance (or rather, lack of appearance).
The second part of the TrackPort system is the BrickHouse Security service plan. The SIM card included in the box and installed in the hardware enables the TrackPort to communicate with the cloud and report the data that it collects. Data is collected and reported every 10 minutes to BrickHouse's online server over a wireless network provided by T-Mobile.