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September 29, 2012

Live Trac EZ Vehicle GPS Tracking Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 4.5 of 5

Verdict: Instantly Locate Your Vehicle Any Time, Any Place

Live Trac EZ Vehicle GPS Tracker
On Board Diagnostic Port, better known as the OBD-II port Live Trac EZ, Connected to OBD Port Live Trac EZ Web Reports

The Bottom Line: Live Trac EZ is a wireless GPS tracking device that installs in seconds into your vehicle's On Board Diagnostic Port, better known as the OBD-II port -- don't worry, if your vehicle was made after 1996, it has one. The GPS tracker gets power from your vehicle, so there's never any batteries to charge, or a risk that the battery will be dead when you need to locate your car.

Once it's plugged in, you can instantly locate your vehicle from a web browser or smartphone, even if the vehicle isn't running. I've been testing this device for several weeks now, and it works exceptionally well. Detailed reports are available, including historical "breadcrumb" reports that show where the vehicle has been, how fast it was driving, and the distance driven. You can also configure alerts based on speed, location, or when the ignition is turned on.

Live Trac EZ is an excellent vehicle tracker that works well, is reasonably priced, never runs out of batteries.

Priced at $169 for the device, Live Trac EZ requires a monthly service fee of $29.95 for 10 second location updates (or $39.95 per month for 5 second updates). Service is billed monthly, and can be canceled any time.

Live Trac EZ, Side
Figure 1: Live Trac EZ, Side

Three LED indicator lights are located on the side of the device: EBDII, GSM, and GPS status.

Live Trac EZ, Top
Figure 2: Live Trac EZ, Top

OBD-II Port
Figure 3: OBD-II Port

If your vehicle was manufactured after 1996, more than likely it has an OBD-II port somewhere in the car -- usually it's located close to the floor on the driver's side of the dashboard.

Live Trac EZ, Connected to the OBD-II Port
Figure 4: Live Trac EZ, Connected to the OBD-II Port

A small blue LED indicates the Live Trac EZ is getting power from your vehicle.

Note: the blue light isn't visible unless you're kneeling down and looking right at it, and the device doesn't beep or make any other sounds.

Live Trac EZ, Connected to the OBD-II Port
Figure 5: Live Trac EZ, Connected to the OBD-II Port

Live Trac Tracking Portal
Figure 6: Live Trac Tracking Portal

Live Trac EZ can be located by logging into the browser-based portal, shown above, or the smartphone (iOS and Android) App, shown below.

Since the device automatically sends location updates every 10 seconds (or 5 seconds if you sign up for the more expensive monthly service plan), the device's location is instantly displayed as soon as you log in -- there's no delay while the device is located.

LiveViewGPS iPhone App
Figure 7: LiveViewGPS iPhone App

The iPhone/Android App lets you locate the vehicle, but lacks the historical reporting, advanced reports, and alerting functions found in the browser-based portal.

Device Options
Figure 8: Device Options

Notice that the device options screen includes the ability to interact with the vehicle (which makes sense, since the EZ Trac is connected to the the vehicle's diagnostics port), including locking and unlocking the doors, starting or stopping the engine, and honking the horn.

Vapor Trail Report
Figure 9: Vapor Trail Report

The "Vapor Trail" report allows you to see a breadcrumb trail, or "Vapor Trail" of where your vehicle traveled on a given date (or date range).

History Playback
Figure 10: History Playback

You can also "playback" a trip -- watch turn by turn every move the vehicle made, including how fast it was traveling.

Reports
Figure 11: Reports

The web-based EZ Trac portal includes robust reporting options. You can also email the reports in Excel format.

Speeding Report
Figure 12: Speeding Report

The Speeding Report allows you to specify a speed value as well as date range. For example, setting a value of 65 MPH would generate a report showing the location, date, & time when the vehicle was traveling faster than 65 MPH.

Alert Editor
Figure 12: Alert Editor

The Alert Editor allows you to setup alerts based on speed, location, or vehicle ignition. For example, you could setup an alert to email you anytime the vehicle is turned on. Or you could configure an alert if the vehicle is ever driving faster than 85 MPH.

You can also configure alerts based on location. For example, you can setup an alert if the vehicle enters or exits a geographical area, or "zone", such as your home, work, school, airport, etc. You can also setup Route Alerts -- you specify the route the vehicle SHOULD take, and the EZ Trac will alert you if it deviates from that route.

11. Pros

Plus Reasonably priced
Plus No batteries to charge
Plus Can locate your vehicle even when the ignition is off
Plus Lots of reporting options
Plus Alert system lets you setup email and/or SMS notifications based on entry/exit into or out of a fenced area you draw on the map, based on speed, based on ignition key on/off.
Plus Automatic location updates every 10 seconds means you'll always be able to instantly locate the vehicle -- or at least see where it was when GPS signal was last lost (IE an underground parking structure)

12. Cons

Minus $29.95 monthly service fee
Minus Smartphone App lacks the reporting/alerting features found in the browser-based portal

Conclusion

Priced at $169, LiveViewGPS' EZ Trac is reasonably priced, works well, and installs easily in virtually any vehicle.

Once installed, sends location updates automatically every 10 seconds, even when your vehicle's ignition is off. That means that even if the vehicle enters a location where GPS signals cannot penetrate, such as an underground parking structure, you'll be able to see the vehicle's path right up to the second when GPS signal was lost.

Unlike most portable GPS tracking devices, the EZ Trac is powered via your vehicle's OBDII port, so there's no batteries to recharge. Simply attach the unit into the ODBII port and you can instantly locate your vehicle from any browser, tablet, or smartphone. The device is discrete, and barely noticeable (you'd have to be kneeling down and looking straight at the ODBII port to even see it). Even then, most people would most likely think the EZ Trac was simply part of the car or perhaps a cover for the ODBII port.

Lots of reporting and alerting functions mean you can easily see where your vehicle has been, how long it was there, the route it took, and how fast it was going. Alerts can be configured to email or SMS text message you when the vehicle is speeding, or enters/exits an area you draw on the map, or when the vehicle's ignition is turned on or off.

The Android and iOS compatible smartphone App lacks some of the more advanced features found in the full browser-based tracking portal, such as historical location reports and alerts, but it does provide a quick and convenient way to location to track your vehicle (or multiple vehicles).

Like other GPS tracking solutions, EZ Trac requires a cellular data connection. That translates to a monthly service fee of $29.95 for automatic location updates every 10 seconds (or $39.95 per month for 5 second updates). Service is billed monthly, and can be canceled any time.

Those looking for a reliable, reasonably priced vehicle tracking GPS device will find the EZ Trac one of the best options available on the market today. EZ Trac is available for purchase via LiveViewGPS' website.