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By 18 December 2009 | Categories: gizmos

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If you’ve ever found yourself in an emergency situation you’ll know that what you crave most at that point is a big SOS button in your pocket that connects you with someone that can help you and simultaneously tells them where they can find you. C-track, in conjunction with Cell C, recently launched the C-track ICE (in case of emergency) device that functions as a rather basic cellphone and a personal tracking device, complete with a dedicated SOS switch. Aimed at the personal security market the C-track ICE is ideal for kids, the elderly or lone workers.
 
The hardware

The device C-track are using, the RSP-100, is built by UK based Romad Ltd., who specialise in mobile location based services. The hardware has been around for a couple of years now, having caught the attention of international networks at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain in 2008 and having won a number of security industry awards in the UK since then.

The handset is seriously small (90 x 46 x 17.5 mm) and light weight (62.5g with battery) which makes it ideal to carry round in your pocket, on your belt using the packaged clasp or round your neck via the packaged lanyard.

The handset’s casing is made of a hardened plastic, giving it a solid feel. It looks like a miniature cellphone from the 90s, with a protruding antenna and a tiny monochrome 96 x 25 pixel LCD display. As it’s a practical device this really isn’t an issue. The screen is ideal for displaying all the basic functions you want, such as viewing your phonebook or call history, checking your GPS location and monitoring the device’s battery life.

The RSP-100 features a number of hardware buttons including four pre-programmable speed-dial buttons, a menu key, a power/ cancel button, side keys that function as volume controls and scroll keys and a single SOS switch. The buttons are well sized and make using the device almost self-explanatory. There is also no need to worry that you’ll accidentally trigger the SOS (explanation of how it works below) switch as it requires a fairly deliberate action to activate.

From a tracking perspective, the RSP-100 features a SiRF Star III LP GPS chipset. The device is consequently a very capable tracking device, fixing in on your location very quickly and offering very accurate location information. The other benefit of this chipset is that is not power hungry, so it’s rather light on your battery.

You can also use the device to make and receive calls. You can only call speed dial-contacts and those listed in your phonebook though, with a maximum of 20 numbers in your contact list (The phonebook feature is not yet available in South Africa, but will be made available in a firmware update scheduled for release in April 2010). Bear in mind that these contacts have to be added via the Support Centre and updated over-the-air. You can also receive, but not send out, SMSs. While the screen is rather small SMSs are more than legible.

The hardware offering is very functional and practical. The device is solid and works well. The only really complaint we have is that the microphone could have been more sensitive. As the handset is so small, the mic is positioned fairly far from your mouth when you’re holding the handset to your ear. The result is that people on the other end of the line do struggle to hear you at times.

The service

The benefit of taking out a contract for the device (contract details below) is that you have one touch access to emergency services 24/7, and what’s more they get a GPS fix on your position.

Flicking the SOS switch on the device will set off an alarm with the guys over at C-track, at which point you’ll get a call from their Support Centre which is able to redirect your call to the appropriate emergency services like ER24 and give them details on your whereabouts. We found the response from the Support Centre to be lightening quick, they responded to our SOS alarm in seconds.

The fourth speed-dial key on the handset is also pre-programmed to call 112, which is Cell C’s emergency service number. The assistance offered from the 112 service doesn’t fall under the C-track ICE service however.

Above and beyond the SOS service provided by C-track, you are also afforded access to other medical and-non medial services. For instance, other medical services available to C-track ICE customers include telephonic assistance from a medical doctor, bereavement counselling, a suicide hotline and a variety of other counselling services.

In terms of non-medical assistance C-track offer a BodyGuard service if you are stranded in a dangerous area, telephonic navigation assistance if you’re lost and they can provide third parties with your location details if necessary.

There are also a number of ‘non-services’ which may appeal to some. The fact that the device is controlled via an online platform means that it is difficult to alter the settings yourself. This is ideal for children or the elderly who are less proficient at managing their own settings. A lack of internet and social networking access could also be viewed as a benefit to some parents, as it makes it easier to control a child’s access to online content and services. 

C-track even provide an online portal (www.ctrackice.co.za) for customers to manage and view all their C-track devices. By logging onto the site you can view the current location of all your devices, which allows you to monitor the movements of your loved ones.

Conclusion

We were thoroughly impressed with the service of the C-track team. With all the additional benefits to the excellent SOS service they provide, the device and contract are well worth it. Something that is lacking on the service front however, is information on your remaining minutes or airtime. With no keypad available on the device you are unable to send service commands to the Cell C network. Basically you have to pre-programme the number in your list of 20 allowed or call Nashua Mobile to get this information. You can’t get the information from the Support Centre, which is a little frustrating.

With three choices of contract available the service is flexible. The C-track ICE is available from Nashua Mobile on a number of Cell C contracts including:

  • Casual Chat 100 @ R150 pm x 24 months with 100 off-peak minutes

  • Casual Chat Anytime @ R165 pm x 24 months with 50 anytime minutes

  • Control Chat 125 @ R206 pm x 24 months with R145 airtime per month

For more info visit Nashua Mobile

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