How smart is KeySmart? UPDATE

UPDATE 7/23/19

When I first posted my review of KeySmart, I promised an update if the company offered an explanation for the shorter than expected time between charges for the battery that feeds the key fob’s built in flashlight and Bluetooth tracker. So here’s the update: Not only did KeySmart respond (after a short delay), they quickly acknowledged that there might be something wrong with the battery, and sent me another fob to try out. That’s good customer service! No muss, no fuss. That said, even after posting the original review, I had decided to try again to charge the original fob. So by the time the replacement KeySmart arrived, I had already determined that there must have been some kind of charging error the first time – maybe a loose connection – because when I charged the device again, it held the charge and has held it ever since. I really don’t know what made the difference. But at this point, the original fob has held its charge about as long as the company advertised. So I’m happy to report, the time between charges is no longer an issue. Whether it was some kind of operator error or some other glitch, the charge in the original KeySmart holds. Glad to set the record straight on that. Original review below

Did you know that the average person has 9 keys and is not sure what many of them open? That’s not just crazy in a normal kind of way but it can also get bulky. And losing your keys is always a hassle.

KeySmart makes a gadget tailor-made for those who are about to be somewhere other than home: a compact key holder that resembles a pocketknife. KeySmart Pro comes with Tile – the digital tracking device – built into the key holder. Paired with the Tile app, available at an app store near you, you can track your keys and even use KeySmart to track your phone if you happen to lose it.1-IMG_0013[113804]

If all of the above sounds good, you can appreciate the promise of the whole KeySmart premise – an easy, compact, efficient way to manage your keys, a way to step beyond the ball of confusion many of us have to deal with if we have more than a couple of keys to carry.

Should be a win for the company. But how well do these products actually function?

While KeySmart makes fobs in various styles/builds/ and price ranges, the KeySmart Pro lists for $49.99 on the KeySmart website. I did not pay for this one – the company, of it’s own volition, sent it to me so I could review the product.

My plan to test the system involved 1) loading it up with a few keys to see how it fares in practice, 2)trying to find the key fob once it was remote from my location and 3)using the fob to find my phone.

Before testing, I followed instructions – I charged the KeySmart fob with the included USB cable til the green indicator light came on. Then, I downloaded the Tile app and synced the fob to my phone.

First, KeySmart works with Bluetooth, meaning that as long as you’re relatively close to the keys you lost, you can find them using the app on your phone. I tested the ability of the fob to locate my phone. I engaged a rigorous exercise involving moving my phone to a bookshelf upstairs, then going downstairs to the kitchen, and tapping the tiny Tile button twice.

That action is supposed to make my phone ring even if the ringer is off – all the better to locate the lost device. The first time I tried it, no ring occurred. The second time, by which time I had brought the fob into closer contact with the phone, there was a ring tune played – after a slight delay. Based on my testing, the closer you are, the better.

I also tested involved “losing” my key fob – by leaving it at home and driving to my office 12 miles away.To make it more interesting, I asked my wife to take the fob with her when she left the house, which would allow me to test the location feature by figuring out where she was. The app comes with a mapping function which is supposed to show you where your keys ended up when you lost them.

In theory, this could be good. But in practice, it only works if you happen to be able to take advantage of Tile’s crowd sourcing element.

Tile uses Bluetooth to find your lost keys when you’re in range but a crowd sourcing model based on the proximity of other Tile users to find your lost stuff when you’re out of range. As noted in Jason O’Grady’s 2013 review: “Obviously the service requires a large user base to be effective (and may not work in less populated areas) but it’s a no brainer in large metros.”  In a later piece, O’Grady (who backed the original Tile crowdfunding push) noted that anyone who wants to help Tile be more effective can just download the app, which makes it more likely to locate a lost item.

So given those facts, finding your lost keys is dependent on how close you are to them, and how many other people are around with the Tile app installed. Is that useful for you? Again, that depends.

In my case, there were apparently not enough other Tile users to get a bead on my keys. Good thing they weren’t really lost.

As for KeySmart’s ability to hold keys, it takes some work and some patience to get it loaded. I recommend using a quarter or a penny as your screwdriver – although once you do get the keys in place and screwed down, they’re in. On that note, be sure to follow the instructions, and to take literally the IMG_0769 company’s tip that the little spacers it comes with are optional. And do try to balance your keys on either side of the fob.

I’m using my KeySmart Pro to hold five keys plus the combination bottle opener/remote loop that comes with the device. It comes with enough spacers to hold more keys, but keep in mind that the screws that hold KeySmart together are only so long, so you’ll need to use good judgment.

Once the keys are in place, KeySmart takes up no more space than a medium sized pocketknife. Put it in your pocket and you see the key (ahem) advantage of not having your keys poking you in the leg or making holes in your clothes.

KeySmart Pro has a flashlight built in and the lamp and the Tile functions are charged with the included USB cable. The app tells you to charge the device every 45 days. In my case, the charge lasted a week. I asked the company for an explanation. If they give me one, I’ll update this post.

KeySmart also makes a magnetic key fob called MagConnect, which allows you to pull your keys away from the ring by detaching one half of the connector from the other. IMG_0014It would be convenient, for instance, if you wanted to hand one key to someone else – house guest, valet, mechanic, etc. – while hanging on to the rest of your keys, or if you want to go for a walk burdening your walking shorts with only the door key while leaving the rest at home. You can use MagConnect regardless of whether you have the other part of the KeySmart system.

The MagConnect actually claims to holds up to 3 pounds. My testing revealed that the powerful little magnets will hold a reasonable amount of weight, meaning a reasonable number of keys. Should be perfectly fine for normal people using MagConnect normally.

The upshot: KeySmart works fine as a compact key organizer which is comfortable to carry at least a few keys. The built-in Tile will help you keep up with your keys and phone in Bluetooth range. But outside that range, the Tile requires crowd sourcing to help you locate your lost device. So as a travel-specific gadget, either stick to well-traveled, busy metros, or try not to lose your KeySmart Pro.

You can buy KeySmart Pro and other related products at getkeysmart.com

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