As it happens, I have an adventurous little miniature schnauzer who loves to take off running and gets lost quite easily. My first thought was how useful a tracking collar would be just in case we can’t find her right away. I always knew this technology existed, but I was quite surprised to see a real smart collar that I could finally buy, so I got my unit in a week later and gave it shot right away. Let’s get started with the review!
My Schnauzer weighs in at around 16lbs and so I ordered the smallest collar in yellow (medium at the time was the smallest). The collar is thick and feels very secure, I like how there is almost no plastic in the construction. My one issue with the collar itself is the buckle feels like it doesn’t fit just right and so it makes a bit of a clanky sound when your dog is walking. I really like the collar’s light. It’s a small and simple feature that can be turned on and off with the app to light up the collar. It’s innovation like this that I love to see. I noted that the base station always needs to be plugged in for tracking and not just for charging the module.
The app isn’t quite there in my opinion, it’s not perfect but it also isn’t finished yet, think early Sonos days. I know Fi will get there, but for now, the app still feels very new. Alerts are slow, I took my dog with me in the truck and more than seven minutes later it notified me the dog had left the safe zone. Not a big deal and I understand this is to save battery life, but I wish there were an option for pet lovers who want more instant information. I did notice that different pages in the app showed different battery life levels for the collar and very often the app would show my dog at the next-door neighbor’s house when in fact she was next to me. This may cause some issues for people who live in apartments or homes that are closer together than mine (only 15 feet away from the next house). I love how it tracks my dog’s steps, today she walked 22,585 steps, which doesn’t surprise me, she loves to run around any chance she gets.
One unique feature I really liked was the lost dog mode that according to Fi, increases location reports via notification to once per minute. Once you activate the option it turns on the red pulsing LED light on the Fi collar to make your dog easier to spot at night or in low visibility conditions. But also note that the LED light will drain your dog’s Fi collar battery faster, so Fi says to keep an eye on the battery gauge displayed at the bottom of the screen and consider switching the light off if your dog’s Fi collar battery is running low while you’re still trying to track them down. I found the battery life to be ok, out of the box it lasted for a few days and then needed to be charged. Once fully charged it ran for about four weeks. To use the lost dog mode feature you will have to pay for the GPS service which is $99 per year.
In early December this year, I am taking my dog out camping in northern Georgia, I feel much safer knowing that I can find her with ease. It’s reassuring knowing you can find your dog quickly and accurately for just $150 plus $99 per year. I did notice that at first, my dog didn’t seem to like the collar module, however she has gotten used to it and is completely happy wearing it every day now. She also went to the vet recently and I was able to track her during the entire visit. Dogs can get lost at any time, so knowing you can track your beloved pooch is reassuring.
I feel this current design is nearly perfect. I am sure they will come out with a Gen 2 that’s a bit cheaper and with a bit more attention to detail including better battery life. The app could use work as well, but again it’s nothing some tweaking can’t fix. Overall the system itself is a great concept and works well at its current stage. I think Fi has a winning formula, they just need to tighten up a few screws in the next version and they will have a 10/10 smart collar for any size dog. I will definitely be buying the next version of the Fi, I can’t wait to see what else this company can come up with, 8/10 for me.