There are only a few gadgets I can say I've used faithfully since I first found out about them, and the Tile Bluetooth locator is one of them.
The first Tile fit easily on a key chain, and that's still where I use it.
Tile's core mission is to help you find things you've misplaced.
This year, Tile added a few new models to the lineup that enhance the gadget's usefulness.
How they work
Here's the short version: Tiles connect to an app on your phone to help you find lost things using Bluetooth communication.
If you have a Tile on your keychain and you lose your keys, you call up the Tile app on your phone and press a button. If the keys are within range (150 to 400 feet), the Tile will start ringing so you can hear it and find your keys.
Likewise, if you can't remember where you put down your phone, press a button on the Tile and it will ring your phone, even if its ringer is off.
You can attach a Tile to a computer bag, suitcase, the TV remote or anything that you're likely to need help finding.
I can't tell you how many times my wife and I have used the Tile to find our keys.
It's easy to get Tiles up and running.
Download the free Tile app, touch a plus icon at the top of the screen and follow the onscreen instructions. You press the button on the Tile and the app will find it and let you give it a name and an icon (like keys or a wallet).
To find a Tile, call the app up and touch the green "Find" button under your Tile's icon.
I'm bad about laying down my wallet and forgetting where I put it. The Tile Slim ($29.99) is the size of two stacked credit cards, and it fits perfectly in my wallet. It can also slip into a passport holder or any thin pocket of a computer bag, backpack or suitcase.
It has a three-year nonreplaceable battery and a range of up to 200 feet, and it's waterproof.
This is a different form factor for Tile.
The Sticker ($39.99 for two) is small, round and the size of a dime but thicker, like the button on a coat.
The sticker is also waterproof, and the three-year battery is not replaceable.
It has an adhesive on the back so you can affix it to any hard surface, like your TV's remote or your kid's Nintendo Switch.
The Sticker's range is up to 150 feet.
The Tile Mate is not new, but it is improved. The Mate ($24.99) most resembles the original Tile. It's a small white square that has a hole in it so you can attach it to a keychain or backpack.
It has a longer range (up to 200 feet), and the one-year battery is replaceable.
The Mate is water-resistant, so it can take a splash, but don't submerge it.
The Tile Pro ($34.99) is the top-of-the-line locator. It's larger than the Mate, but it shares some features, like a small hole to attach it to a keychain or bag. It has a metal frame, and it's larger than the Mate.
The Pro has the longest range (up to 400 feet) and the loudest speaker.
The Pro's battery lasts a year, and it is replaceable.
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It comes in black or white and is water-resistant.
Save with quantities
Most of the Tiles are available in multi-packs that lower the price per Tile.
For instance, a four-pack of Tile Pros costs $99.99.
There are also combo packs, such as two Mates and two Slims for $74.99 or two Stickers, one Mate and one Slim for $69.99.
Tile also offers a service called Tile Premium with some features that you might find useful.
Tile Premium costs $2.99 per month, or $29.99 per year.
With Premium, you can set up Smart Alerts. It alerts you if you leave your Tiles behind so you can go back and retrieve your stuff.
If you have Tiles with replaceable batteries, you'll get free batteries sent to you every year. And your Tile's warranty will be extended to three years.
You'll be able to see your Tile's 30-day location history on a map, and you can also share the administration of your Tiles so other people can help you find them.
If you lose a Tile
If you do really lose a Tile, the app has a few ways to help.
You'll be able to see its last known location, with date and time, on a map.
You can activate "lost mode," and the Tile community (everyone running the Tile app on their phone) will help you find it.
If anyone with the Tile app comes within range of your Tile, it will use that person's phone to send you a message with its current location.
All of this happens behind the scenes. The people whose Tile apps are being used don't know they're helping you find your stuff.
You can also use skills from Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri to help find your Tiles.
If you can't find your keys, just say, "Alexa, ask Tile to find my keys," and if they're within range, you'll hear the ringtone.
I've been using Tiles since 2015. I went back and read my original review, and I love them as much today as I did then. My only "con" was that the battery wasn't replaceable. That's no longer true, and the company has extended Tile's range a lot.
Tiles are pretty inexpensive, and I know everyone could use at least one.
They make perfect Christmas gifts. Buy a few and keep them on hand for when you need a last-minute idea.
When I don't need it, the Tile just sits quietly on my keychain. When I do need it, I'm always grateful it's there.
Pros: Inexpensive, long range, easy-to-use app and a variety of sizes, some with replaceable batteries.
Cons: Sometimes I accidentally press the button on my Tiles when my keys are in my pocket, setting off my phone's ringer.
Bottom line: Every single person I know could use a Tile.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jim Rossman writes for The Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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