Ever since our 16 year old started driving six months ago, I had been looking for a GPS vehicle tracking device. I wanted an active system where I could go online and instantly see where and how she was driving as she was driving instead of a passive system where I'd have to wait until she returned home and then download the logs. Most all of the active systems I found cost around $400 for the hardware (self-installed), and then another $25-$40 per month for the monitoring service. I came across the ScyTrak 3000, which was $200 for the hardware, with monitoring for a flat $180 per year. Given that it was less than half the cost of other devices, I decided to give it a try. Installation was easy. I chose the simplest solution for now, which meant connecting three wires - constant power, switched power, and ground. Additionally, I had to connect and locate the two included antennas, one for the GPS and one for the GPRS cellular network. Luckily, the car I installed it in (Mercedes-Benz C240) had easy to a fuse panel in the trunk for the connections and I was able to hide the two antennas under the rear hat shelf. Once installed, I followed the enclosed instructions to setup and pay for an online monitoring account. I could not get the website to accept my credit card, so I called their listed support number. I immediately had two people help me: one lady took my payment card information, and another gentleman verified my installation. He took my number and said he call back in 15 minutes once he had the account configured. True to his word, he did and everything was working. The ScyTrak has some extra features where it can be connected to various external devices and systems in the car. It can use external inputs to trigger alerts or it can trigger external devices itself. For example, it can be connected to the power doorlock system so that doors can be unlocked via the Internet interface. Or, it can register events such as the vehicle's alarm being triggered, and report them via text or email. I have not yet installed any of these options, and probably won't as my main goal is to monitor vehicle location. ScyTrak's monitoring service is adequate. The way it works is that it process updates from the vehicle every five minutes, or whenever an engine start/stop even occurs. You can also "demand" a ping via the website as often as you want. It uses Google maps to overlay the vehicle location, and you can even tag and name popular locations like "Home", "School" or "Rachel's House". A few things I don't like is that the vehicle location reports and pings are just single points on the map. It doesn't "connect the dots" to give you an actual track. For me, this isn't such a big deal because I know the areas where the vehicle is operated and I can do this mentally. Also, the timestamps of the vehicle location always appear in Pacific Time. I have contacted ScyTek to see if this is a configuration problem or a bug, but I have not yet heard a solution. I have also noticed that speed is always reported as average speed based on the 5-minute reporting intervals. The monitoring service has the ability to send alerts on certain events like speeding, but I have been unable to get these to work. I have an alert set at 80mph and I have tested it with no alerts being set. I suspect that the software has to register excess average speed over its 5-minute reporting period, but I have also tried that and can't seem to get it to trigger an alert. The ScyTrak website is fairly intuitive and works well from most any PC and my iPad. I can also use it on my Windows Mobile smartphone, but the Google maps part of the website becomes a bit cumbersome on a small screen. A mobile version of the website would be nice. Even with these limitations, I am happy with the ScyTrak. The price is right and it gives me what I need - peace of mind when our sixteen year old is on the road. Even if it is only reported every 5 minutes, I still can feel confident that I can know where she is when she is behind the wheel.
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