Review: Travolution tries out Tile Mate as a luggage companion

Imagine the scene: you’re on a guided tour or coach journey and your case is stuck – somewhere – in the pile of baggage, with dozens of fellow travellers angling to find their suitcase. Panic takes over as fussers dive for bags that look vaguely similar to their own.

But where’s mine? You suddenly think as your calmness is overridden by the sense of anxiety as you scan the luggage mountain and there’s no sign of your suitcase.

Don’t worry. There’s an app for that.

tile-mate

Tile is a Bluetooth-enabled device which you can attach to your suitcase using a keyring and hook up to your smart phone wirelessly.

So when you can’t find your bag, you just whip out your phone, load the app, press the button and trace your case from the sound – something akin to the ringtone of a Nokia 3310 – you hear.

In theory, this is a very simple solution to a problem.

But my problem with using Tile as a luggage detector is that I don’t think it’s a problem that really needs solving.

I asked you to imagine the scene, because I can’t. I took Tile on three trips, two business, one leisure, and it came in handy – sort of – once. That was on a boat trip among a group of people I was travelling with and, when tasked with digging out my swimming shorts, I wanted to see exactly where in the pile of cases mine had landed.

In reality though, I knew it was there – I just wanted to show off my fancy bit of tech. In fairness, my fellow travellers thought it was great, but the overriding feeling when I explained Tile to them was that it was a nice gadget but not really essential.

It’s certainly not needed on an airport carousel. Those things are way more hi-tech (at least at Heathrow they are).

And my other issue is that if your luggage has been misplaced by someone at an airport, coach trip or guided tour, the likelihood is it’s not going to be within the 100ft range. It’s probably long gone.

I was later told by the Tile Mate team that if I ventured out of range then I can mark it as lost – which allows other members of the ‘Tile community’ to help me look for it – and I was given the example of a photographer who was reunited with his misplaced equipment worth thousands of pounds.

When I was approached to review Tile (the Tile Mate variety of the device) as a piece of travel technology, I was told it would be handy to keep track of my luggage, wallet, mobile phone or skis – yes, skis.

I was genuinely interested (although I was never going to use it with skis). I really wanted it to be a cool and useful gadget.

But at £23 a pop (almost £65 via John Lewis) I wouldn’t invest in it as a luggage companion. I’d like to think airlines and ground handlers have my back and, touch wood, I’ve never had an issue with a lost bag thus far.

That said, I lent my sample Tile Mate to a friend who has a habit of losing his keys.

Bingo.

tile-mate-key

There we have a use for this device. His keys, whether down the sofa, on top of the fridge, in the bottom of his bag – and once just in his pocket – appeared, as if from nowhere. Literally, at the press of a button.

So as a means of tracking down one’s lost luggage, I say Tile is a waste of time. But if you’re a serial key loser, it may be your best Mate.

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