Fi Dog Collar review

Personal trackers are a hot commodity in the world of tech gadgets these days. There are numerous options available today, from fitness trackers for physical activity to cards for tracking wallets and backpack. One market segment that seems to be heating up is pet trackers and one brand jockeying for attention is Fi.

We were sent one of Fi’s collars for tracking your dog’s walks and activity. Here’s our thoughts and impressions of the wearable for canines.

Design

The overall build of the Fi Dog Collar is very nice. The collar is a traditional snap nylon construction with a metal clasp and is available in two colors: yellow and gray. Around the left side of the strap is a metal ring for attaching a personalized dog tag and leash connection.

The packaging is also top-notch. Buy one of these and you will receive a well-planned box containing the collar, micro-USB cable, and charger. It’s clad with the words run that will immediately bring back memories to the old “See Spot Run” children’s books.

Sizing

One thing that’s often frustrating for an owner of a larger dog breed is that at times finding accessories can be difficult. Fortunately,  Fi thought about that by offering small, medium, large, and extra-large options for all dog owners. The Fi Collar will fit most dogs, regardless of size.

Bells and Whistles

Now, let’s get to all the tech stuff. Fi built an interesting, modern addition to the traditional dog collar. The GPS collar uses AT&T cell towers to help monitor your furry friend’s location. The first 30 days are free but do require a subscription after the trial period. While it won’t matter to most of the country, AT&T coverage in your area is something to consider.

The other great thing about Fi is that while other similar options only last a few days per charge this collar can last a full month away from the charging station. I’d say that Fi’s estimated month is pretty close to real results. I’ve had the Fi Dog Collar on my dog Pride for 3 weeks with 30% battery still remaining.

The app is akin to having a Tile and Fitbit for your K9 companion. You create a profile for your pup and sync the base station to your home WiFi. This acts as a “home base” to easily track your dog’s activity while inside your home without the need for AT&T.

This is also where the app will make your home the first Safe Zone. Safe Zones are dedicated areas that you don’t want to report your dog lost but do want to monitor when they leave this area. It’s a great start for those that have an outdoor area that our dogs consistently use but may have become an escape artist at finding their way out.

If the dog leaves this area you can be alerted in several ways. The Fi service will immediately send a push notification to the synced devices via the Fi app.

I like that you can also enroll in text notifications. This would be overkill for the person who closely monitors the app but is a nice addition for homes with more than one person. I could easily see my wife using the text enrollment instead of going through the entire app setup.

I tested this Safe Zone alerting a few times while on walks and the average push notification came in around 3-4 minutes. This is good and bad. It’s great that you get a notification that your dog has escaped, but I simply wish it were faster.

My dog, Pride, is 8 years old and most likely wouldn’t make it far in three minutes. However, a 10 month old Husky on a tear could end up miles away before you know what’s happened. Fi, for its part, claims this is one of the fastest in the industry and some quick internet research seems to support this statement.

A good thing is that you can report your dog on the move with the Fi Lost mode with one click inside the app with a big red button. This fires up all the sensors inside the Fi collar and offers the highest rate of network and GPS pinging to help you track down your four-legged family member as fast as possible. It also illuminates a pulsing red LED light on the collar to help you in the dark.

Activity Tracking

Tracking your dog’s daily routine is pretty similar to what you may have on your wrist in a Fitbit-type device. Fi keeps a basic step tracking of your dog’s movements while on the go. This is presented with some data graphics to produce a snapshot of each day, week, and month. The daily goal is set at 10,000 steps when you initially get started but it can be changed to your liking.

Conclusion

The Fi dog collar is more than an impulse purchase at $149 and I think it’s more of a “need” situation for your dog. Is it worth it for just the activity tracking if you have a pup that never gets lost? Probably not.

On the other hand, if you have a mischievous dog that is consistently getting outside or beyond your property, the Fi collar could be the best piece of mind can buy.

Having a great battery life to monitor your dog’s comings and especially goings offer a unique solution to a lost dog. The Fi collar could definitely shorten a stressful evening of searching for your furry friends.

It’s worth mentioning that after your included 30-day trial, the Fi Collar requires a subscription fee to maintain that AT&T service. Offered in three different options, choices are $99 per year, $186 for 2 years, and $248 for a 3-year plan.

You can grab your Fi Collar today via the company’s dedicated store.

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