If you’ve ever lost or misplaced your keys, your iPhone or your iPad(s AAPL), the Zomm Wireless Leash Plus can help remind you where you left them. And in an odd twist, this little multi-function device can also act as a wireless speakerphone.
The company sent one over, so I decided to try it out. Does the Zomm deliver on these multiple promises or simply leave you with money lost? Here’s my take.
The emergency speakerphone
The Zomm is a round disk roughly a quarter-inch thick and designed to be carried on a keychain. Packed into this accessory is a Bluetooth hands-free speakerphone. When paired with your iPhone, it operates as a standard speaker phone for use in situations where the iPhone’s speakerphone may not be accessible (primarily in your car).
The microphone’s noise cancelling worked quite well and callers heard me crisp and clear. Compared to other Bluetooth hands-free devices I’ve reviewed, the Zomm’s microphone was outstanding. However, it didn’t work as well the other way around: it was hard sometimes to hear the caller talking — the tiny speaker in the Zomm was reminiscent of an AM radio in quality. I quickly abandoned the Zomm as a hands-free calling aid and opted for the speakerphone on my iPhone.
One aspect of the hands-free device does come in handy in certain situations: it allows one-touch dialing via the Zomm for emergency calls. If the phone is in range of the Zomm, you can hold down the button the phone will automatically dial a pre-set emergency number, either 911 or any other number, such as a family member’s. This even works if the phone is locked. When the Zomm places the call, it announces to your caller that this in emergency call and gives your location. Important note: Don’t use this for a quick speed dial.
The killer feature of this product, however, is the wireless “leash.” When the MyZomm app is installed on your phone, should the iOS device and the Zomm start moving away from each other, the Zomm will blare its audible klaxon louder and louder until it eventually goes into panic mode. With the Zomm paired with my iPad, I had no problem running to the restroom at the coffee shop and leaving my iPad just sitting there. The distance range ranges from 30 feet to 120 feet, so in a large facility you might be out of range before the restroom, but for average use it was just fine and you sure won’t forget the device you’ve paired with the Zomm.
Alternatively, if you have trouble finding your keys (or any device to which the Zomm is physically attached), using the MyZomm app will put the key fob in sonar mode similar to the Find My iPhone app and allow you to listen for your Zomm’s alert should they still be in range of your MyZomm app. The MyZomm app even remembers the last place your device was found.
The app relies on the fact that your Zomm key fob and your iOS device keep their Bluetooth connection. The device wasn’t smart enough to reestablish connections when it was out of range, and the battery life was only a few days. To use it properly you’d need to charge it every night and make sure the device is always paired.
Overall, I liked the peace of mind the Zomm provided. I won’t be using it as a speaker phone, but could easily see giving it to a older or younger family member as a easy way to quickly contact me or someone else in an emergency. Using it to keep track of my keys or iPad was fun and innovative as long as I remembered to charge it every night.
Maybe if Apple used these for their iPhone prototypes, it could have avoided lots of problems.