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August 17, 2010

Best Buy Insignia Little Buddy GPS Child Tracker Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 4 of 5

Verdict: Small, Affordable, Capable

Best Buy Insignia Little Buddy GPS Child Tracker
Little Buddy GPS Child Tracker Map Screen Safety Zone

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

  • Don't let the silly product name fool you - this is a very competent GPS tracking device
  • $49 for the device, $14.99 a month for unlimited usage, or pay as you go for $0.99 per locate request
  • First 30 days are free. No penalty to cancel at any time, or switch between plans
  • Strong GPS performance and rich feature set makes the Little Buddy a contender, holding its own against more expensive tracking devices

Table of Contents

  1. Unboxing
  2. Activating & Registering the Little Buddy GPS Tracker
  3. Using the Little Buddy GPS Child Tracker
  4. Locating Little Buddy via Your Cell Phone
  5. Pros
  6. Cons
  7. Conclusion

1. Unboxing

Insignia Little Buddy Retail Box
Figure 1: Insignia Little Buddy Retail Box

The Little Buddy GPS Child Tracker is sold exclusively through Best Buy for $49.99, and is available in blue or green.

Insignia Little Buddy
Figure 2: Insignia Little Buddy

Slightly larger than a chap stick tube, Insignia's Little Buddy GPS Child Tracker is small enough that it can easily be slipped into a child's pocket or bookbag.

Little Buddy, Side
Figure 3: Little Buddy, Side

The only physical control on the Little Buddy is a combination power button / LED indicator, located along the left side of the device.

Pressing and holding the power button for 5 seconds turns the device on (or off).

The LED flashing pattern indicates the following different status conditions:

LED Status Description
Flashing every 5 seconds Little Buddy is turned on
Flashing every second Little Buddy is plugged in and charging
Solid Little Buddy is plugged in, and fully charged

 

Mini-USB Port
Figure 4: Mini-USB Port

A mini-USB plug is located on the bottom of the device. This plug is used to charge the device. Annoyingly, the device does not come with a charger. So the only way to charge the internal battery is either by connecting the Little Buddy to a computer, using a cell phone charger you already have, or buying a mini-USB charger.

A rubber flap protects the Mini-USB port when not in use.

The internal battery takes approximately 4 hours to fully charge.

2. Registering & Activating Little Buddy

Little Buddy Web Portal Login Page
Figure 5: Little Buddy Web Portal Login Page

Before you can start using the Little Buddy Child Tracker, you'll need to activate the device. You do this by opening a web browser on a computer, and opening www.insignialittlebuddy.com and clicking on "activate your device".

Little Buddy Activation Screen
Figure 6: Little Buddy Activation Screen

First you'll need to enter an email address. This is the email address that will be used to send location alerts.

Verify Your Email Address
Figure 7: Verify Your Email Address

Within a few minutes, an email will be sent to the address you specified in the previous step. You'll need to confirm the email address by clicking on the link contained in the email.

Enter Billing and Account Information
Figure 8: Enter Billing and Account Information

Next you'll need to enter your billing information, including a valid credit card. Note that nothing is actually billed during the signup. The first 30 days of service are free. After that the system will use the credit card on file to begin charging you for the service.

You'll select which service plan you want later in the setup process ($14.99/month for unlimited, or $0.99 per locate for pay as you go).

Account Information
Figure 9: Account Information

Next you'll choose a password (needed to login to the Little Buddy tracking website), and also a mobile phone number. The mobile phone number entered here is the mobile phone that will be sent location requests and alerts.

Register Device
Figure 10: Register Device

Next up, pairing the device to your account. It's hard to read, but the sticker on the back of the device contains a long "HEX ID". Enter the last 6 digits of this number, and assign a name to the device. The name you choose will appear on the map screen to represent the device. For example, you might want to assign your child's name to the device (especially handy if you own more than one Little Buddy tracker).

Tip: When entering the last 6 digits of the HEX ID code, don't confuse the letter "O" with the number zero. All 0's in the HEX ID are zeros.

Device Registering
Figure 11: Device Registering

Click "done" to go to the main page, or "add another" to register another Little Buddy tracker.

Wait for Registration Email
Figure 12: Wait for Registration Email

Before you can start using the Little Buddy, you must wait for the confirmation email to arrive in your inbox, and then you'll have to click the link contained in that email to verify that you are the rightful owner of the email address.

Complete Little Buddy Registration
Figure 13: Complete Little Buddy Registration

Once the registration confirmation email arrives, click the link contained in the message to complete the device registration process.

Activate Device
Figure 14: Activate Device

Now we're ready to complete the device activation. Turn the Little Buddy off, wait 2 minutes, then turn it back on.

All Done!
Figure 15: All Done!

If all goes well, the Little Buddy web portal will report that it can communicate with your child tracker, and that it has successfully activated the device. Click Continue.