Have you ever lost your keys, bag or mobile? Kensington hope so, because they’ve created an interesting and inexpensive system called Proximo which will let you track down these missing essentials.
Proximo is formed of two parts. One part is a small fob you clip to the item in question, and the second is an app running on your smartphone. The two pieces pair over Bluetooth when they’re less than 25 metres apart, allowing the app to keep track of the last location it was within range of the fob. Just press a button, and you’ll see a nice map of where the item was most recently spotted.
The app also records the strength of the Bluetooth connection to estimate three distance between phone and fob. Of course, you might be at close range and still not see your chosen item – so the app can also trigger a brief bleep on the fob. That makes it simple to find stuff hiding in desk drawers or a random pocket.
If you lose your phone, then the system works in reverse – you can use your fob’s button to sound an alarm on your phone.
The fob is actually available in two variants – there’s a slim tag (sans button) suitable for putting on or in a bag, and a proper fob (with button) to be put on your keyring.
Putting Proximo to the test
In practice, the system works as advertised, with the alarms and maps both working to easily locate items. The app is quite simple to use, and the pairing process is painless too. The only real potential bother seems to be changing batteries on the fobs, but with six months of advertised life this seems to be a non-issue.
I had my housemate grab my bag and hide it across the house, and each time I was able to track it down without much issue. It’s basically like having someone playing ‘hot or cold’ with you, with the added advantage that the thing you’re looking for can cry out to help. Doing it the other way around – looking for your phone with the fob – is a little harder, but still works well in practice.
The only real issue with the system is that you need to keep Bluetooth on at all times for it to work; it’s not like you can just turn on Bluetooth when you have lost something. Indeed, if you turn off your Bluetooth you’ll get a stern alert from Proximo to turn it back on. Having your Bluetooth on 24/7 causes your battery to drain that extra bit faster, so be forewarned if you’re already dissatisfied with the battery life on your phone. If you already keep Bluetooth on this won’t cause an issue, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
Another thing to consider is compatibility – I had to sideload the Proximo app onto my Nexus 5, although it worked fine once I had done this. Of course, if you have a more common smartphone – like the Samsung Galaxy S4 or its peers – then you’ll find installing the app as easy as any other on the Play Store.
If losing your phone, keys or bag is a concern, then the Proximo is a simple way to protect against the eventuality with the minimum of setup time and effort.
Security items can be evaluated by comparing their cost with the cost of replacing what they protect multiplied by the chance that something untoward will happen in the first place (the expected value).
If you pay £35 for a Proximo Fob and use it protect a £300 smartphone that has a 1/10 chance of being lost, you’re spending more on the Proximo than the expected value that you’ll lose (£300 x (1/10) = £30 < £35). On the other hand, if you protect a £600 smartphone that has a 1/4 chance of going missing, the maths suggest the Proximo is a better idea (£150 > £35). Of course, it’s difficult to estimate the odds in the first place and we’ve assumed the Proximo will always work to track down a missing item, so take this calculation with a grain of salt!
If you travel often or operate in crime-ridden areas with an expensive smartphone or other goods, then the Proximo system seems a particularly wise investment. If your risks are low or your phone isn’t worth so much, then it’s better to pass on the Proximo and just use the money to replace your phone if it does get stolen or go missing.
The Messenger bag is the choice of stylish geeks everywhere, and many unstylish ones too. There’s something satisfying and sleek about slinging a messenger bag over your shoulder, and the often limited space lets you keep the clutter at home.
Kensington’s TripleTek Ultrabook Messenger is one the smaller end of the scale, designed to fit 10 to 14” models rather than the 15” options that I spend most of my time on. However, the bag also includes room for a tablet and a fair few accessories or a change of clothes. You’d want to take a suitcase for any extended trip, but the bag is fine for a day or two.
I was quite impressed by the sheer amount of pockets present on the tiny bag. There’s a main pocket with two fleece-lined zones for an Ultrabook and a tablet, a pocket on either side of the main pocket, one in the flip cover with a smartphone pocket and one on the back as well. This back pocket can unzip into a trolley strap, which is quite handy for airport jaunts. There’s a further secret pocket as well, for stashing small but important documents and the like.
The external look of the messenger bag is a quite standard black synthetic; I would have preferred something a little more interesting in terms of both colour and material. The inner lining is nice though, with a lime colour scheme and comfortable fleece texture.
Overall, a nice choice if you have a MacBook Air or similarly svelte laptop and you’re making short commutes or work trips.
The last piece of Kensington’s package was a surprise – a simple capacitive stylus for tablets.
The stylus is well made and works well for drawing and sketches. The fairly large nib makes precision writing difficult though; if you’re looking to take notes then you’d be better served with a proper Wacom-style stylus (a la the Note 3 or Surface Pro) or at least one that includes a transparent disc-shaped nib (like that of the Adonit Jot Pro, among others).
The overall look is quite professional too, with a conservative design and simple white with silver trim colour scheme. A multitude of colours are available too, including the standard red, blue, pink and purple, as well as more exotic options like plum, chartreuse, emerald and denim blue.
While the stylus is fairly obvious in its design, there are no real flaws in the implementation and I’m happy to recommend it – particularly if you’re looking for an unusual colour!
All samples provided by Kensington.