Pod 3 GPS Tracker and Activity Monitor

Pros

  • Water-resistant and robust design
  • Swappable batteries
  • Decent battery life
  • Plenty of connectivity
  • Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • Cellular data subscription a little pricey
  • A bit big and bulky for some pets

Key Features

  • Review Price: £119.99
  • GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Activity tracking
  • IPX7 water-resistant
  • Up to 5-day battery life (spare battery provided)

What is the Pod 3?

The Pod 3 is a fitness wearable and GPS tracker for your pet, that’s designed to ensure your dog or cat gets enough exercise and know where they are at all times. Perfect if you have an outdoor cat or a dog with a habit of running amok.

With a well-designed companion app, decent battery life even with GPS and 2G/3G enabled, and a water-resistant design, the Pod 3 is a great all-in-one device. Just keep in mind the ongoing subscription cost, which amounts to £6.95 a month or £47.40 a year (there’s 30 day trial provided out of the box).

Pod 3 – Design and setup

Upon initial inspection, I was a little concerned how comfortable the Pod 3 would be to wear constantly. Compared to the PitPat, the barrel-shaped Pod 3 seemed a lot more cumbersome and weighty. My test subject, a nine-month-old adventure cat named Monty, isn’t exactly big or burly.

After actually attaching it to his collar those concerns were gone, and Monty didn’t seem to mind it at all. Even little annoyances like it clacking against his food bowl when he ate didn’t phase him. Then again, nothing gets between Monty and his bowl of Iams.

Related: Furbo review

Pod 3

Getting the Pod 3 onto a collar is a bit of a faff, however, with a rubberised strap that you need to force over a button fastening once looped round the collar. It’s pretty tricky to do, but once on you’re at least reassured that it won’t come off again, which would render the Pod 3 worthless.

You can then cut off any excess strap for a much neater fit, meaning a range of collar sizes are accommodated. Two rubber straps are included in the box.

The one minor annoyance, from a visual standpoint, is that the strap loops through the Pod 3 off-centre, meaning that it’ll hang to one side from your pet’s collar. I was probably more annoyed by it than Monty was, however, and it didn’t seem to affect the comfort.

The Pod 3 is water-resistant to IPX7, so there should be no worries about your pet wearing it out in the rain or it getting splashed.

Simply screw one of the batteries onto the end of the Pod 3 and it powers up, with a green light indicating it’s trying to get a GPS lock. You’ll want to be outside for this part so it can find the satellites. Then, install the Pod Pet app on iOS or Android and it’ll find the Pod 3 tracker over Bluetooth.

Through the app, you can provide your Wi-Fi network details to the Pod 3. Yes, there’s even a Wi-Fi antenna in there. The reason for this is so that the Pod 3 can use your home wireless network to also check on your pet’s location, rather than using the more battery-intensive GPS, which might not be that reliable when indoors. There’s also the Bluetooth connection.

Once that’s all done, you can set up your pet’s profile including stating whether they’re a dog or a cat, age, weight and gender. Finally you can set activity goals including time spent walking, playing and resting.

Pod 3 – Activity tracking, GPS and app

With everything set up, you’re free to play around with some of the Pod 3’s extra functionality. You can turn on Zone Alerts, which send a notification or email whenever your pet leaves a designated safe zone, defined through a combination of Wi-Fi and GPS. You can set up multiple zones, too, so if you often take your pet round to someone else’s house this can be set in the app.

There is also Adventure Recording, which turns on the GPS tracking permanently and thereby draws a mapped route of where your pet has been throughout the day. So if you ever wanted to know where your outdoor cat went when out on their adventures, or how much ground was covered by your dog playing fetch, now you’ll know.

The GPS worked well for the most part, but falls to the usual limitations of the technology. Tree and cloud coverage and tall buildings can as ever prove a hindrance to GPS reception. Potentially the location of the tracker might not help as well, with it naturally tending to hang down the front of your pet’s collar, in front of their neck. Cleverly, the Pod 3 will also use surrounding Wi-Fi networks to help pinpoint its location, in a similar way to how smartphones recommend leaving Wi-Fi turned on for better location accuracy. But in the event of your pet going missing, chances are the Pod 3 will manage to get reception provided they’re not loose in dense woods.

As mentioned, the GPS tracking and 2G/3G cellular data connection are dependent on an ongoing subscription charged monthly or yearly – the latter works out much better value. Check that your country of residence is covered on the Pod Tracker website, but with 175 listed you’re probably fine.

The website will also tell you which telecoms provider handles the network coverage. In the UK, for example, this is handled by Vodafone.

Related: Best fitness trackers (for humans)

As for the all-day activity tracking, this is presented in an Apple Watch-esque manner, with three circles for walking, playing and resting. As your cat or dog moves towards their goal, these circles begin to fill up, making it easy to see how far along they are at a glance. Monty is definitely the less active of our two cats and the tracking seemed right on point. We’ve taken to using the Petcube Play‘s laser to help Monty get his extra play time in.

Pod 3 – Battery life and charging

Both the Adventure Recording and Zone Alerts have a detrimental effect on battery life. With just basic activity tracking, you can expect between four-five days of battery life on a single charge. Turn Zone Alerts on and this is cut down to one day with a five minute refresh rate on their location. Turning on Adventure Recording meant cutting battery life down to just nine hours, which in fairness is still a pretty epic adventure.

Thankfully, with a second battery included, you can quickly swap them out. In fact, if you’re buying the Pod 3 for peace of mind in case your pet goes missing, it’s probably a good idea to get into the habit of swapping the battery out every other day just in case.

Charging the battery means just screwing it into the charging dock, which works over a USB connection. The battery charging and swapping procedure is as seamless as you could want.

Should I buy the Pod 3?

The Pod 3 provides plenty of functionality beyond the basic GPS tracking. The Zone Alerts are particularly useful for reassurance and the Adventure Recording provides an interesting additional layer of insight. The activity tracking is also great for making sure your pet gets enough exercise.

It would have been nice to have had a longer free trial for the subscription, however, because even the yearly rate is still quite an added expense to what is already a fairly pricey tracker.

Still, if you can’t put a price on peace of mind, the Pod 3 goes above and beyond what you would want from a GPS pet tracker, with decent battery life on a single charge with an added bonus of an easily swappable spare battery.

Thanks to Argos for the review sample.

Verdict

The Pod 3 is a fully-featured GPS pet tracker that gives you a greater insight into what your pet gets up to during the day – just make sure you factor in the ongoing cellular data subscription before making the plunge.

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