We were sending several motorcycles on a 10-day test ride from Luzon, across the islands of Mindoro, Panay and Negros, and then back. While we had a back-up vehicle and support crew to assist the riders, we wanted the added assurance of knowing if the team was doing all right. This is where the VT801 Vehicle Tracking Device came in handy.
What are the best features of the VT801? It’s compact, measuring only 100 x 48 x 20 mm and weighing only 75 g. It’s weatherproof, with an IP67 fully sealed enclosure so it can withstand exposure to dust and rain. It’s not much to look at, just a small black plastic box with a connector on one end.
The VT801 has a highly sensitive 72-channel GPS receiver that can receive up to 3 GNSS systems concurrently, ensuring better location accuracy and quick time-to-first-fix. Data is transmitted via an embedded sim (eSIM) soldered directly onto the device. This has two advantages: (1) the SIM cannot be removed or tampered with; and (2) it can connect to more than 450 network operators in over 190 countries. In the Philippines, it can easily switch to whichever network has the strongest signal at any given location, ensuring almost nationwide coverage.
LED indicators provide information on power, GPS, and cellular status. It has a 105 mAh lithium-polymer backup battery to continue monitoring when the vehicle is turned off. It also has 4 MB of built-in memory. It has two digital inputs, one analog input, two digital outputs, a 1-Wire interface, and an RS232 interface.
The VT801 can be configured and updated over the air, so there is no need to retrieve the device. In case of tampering or if it is removed, it sends an alert and also registers the last known location.
User Experience: 4/5
We installed the VT801 GPS tracking devices on two underbone motorcycles and two scooters. Since the antennas for both cellular and GPS are built-in, it could be installed virtually anywhere on the vehicle. Since motorcycles don’t have an on-board diagnostics port, the tracker also had to be physically wired to the battery for its power source. (For installation in cars, an optional OBD connector does away with direct-to-battery wiring.) With its emulated ignition mode, the VT801 does not need to be connected to the vehicle ignition to monitor if the engine is running.
What makes the VT801 really useful is the accompanying software that serves as the command center, showing you all the registered vehicle trackers in your account. Apparently, the VT801 continuously monitors and transmits the following information: engine start, power-cut, low-battery, shock, and geo-fencing. In case of tampering, it can trigger an SOS or immediate alert.
On the software dashboard, you can see the unit’s current physical location; check its travel history as well as distance traveled and even play the exact routes that it followed in any given time frame like on a certain day, week or month; generate reports which you can customize according to your requirements; and even create geo-fences so you can be notified when a vehicle leaves or arrives at designated locations.
From Manila down to Mindoro then Panay and Negros, we were able to check at any given time where our test riders were located, whether they were traveling on schedule, etc. We noticed a lag in remote mountain roads without a cellular signal, but the information was quickly updated once they reached more accessible areas. Even during a patch of stormy weather, the tracker was able to transmit tracking information.
According to the local supplier, Ascent Solution Philippines Inc., the VT801 is offered on a subscription basis for about PHP 30 per day—a reasonable price to pay for your peace of mind and security.
In addition to commercial fleet applications like logistics and transport companies, I think families should also consider installing this in their vehicles. Imagine your peace of mind knowing exactly what time the family driver picked up the kids from school and getting a notification when they get home. Imagine the fuel savings when your driver knows he cannot keep the engine idling while parked because you will find out.
For motorcycle owners, imagine the added security of knowing that you can always easily locate your bike in case of any untoward incident.
- GPS Receiver: 72 channels, GPS/QZSS L1 C/A, GLONASS L10F, BeiDou B1, Galileo E1B/C, SBAS L1 C/A: WAAS, EGNOS, MSAS, GAGAN
- Time to First Fix: 26 s cold start; 2 s aided start; 1 s hot start
- GPS Antenna with LNA: Built-in
- Anti-Jamming: Active CW detection and removal
- GSM Network: 2G and 3G
- Cellular Antenna: Built-in
- Dimensions: 100 x 48 x 20 mm
- Weight: 75 g
- Built-in Memory: 4 MB
- SIM: MFF2 embedded
- Protocol Support: TCP, UDP, SMS, USSD
- Operating Temperature: –20 to +75 degrees Celsius
- Humidity: 5% to 95% non-condensing
- Enclosure: Waterproof IP67 compliant
- Input Voltage: 9-50 V DC with surge suppressor
- Backup Battery: Li-Polymer 105 mAh
- Compact and weatherproof, suitable for motorcycles
- Built-in SIM is not network-dependent; nationwide coverage
- Can be installed on any 12/24V vehicle, including motorcycles
- No standalone mobile app for on-the-go monitoring (Update: Ascent assures us that this is a feature that’s coming soon)
- Occasional tracking lag in areas without cellular coverage
For your peace of mind, this is a very affordable, easy-to-use tracker.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE December 2019-January 2020 Issue
Reviewed by Maribelle Alba