HipKey full review

Are you known for losing your iPhone or leaving your keys behind? Or perhaps your toddler has a tendency to wander out of eyeshot when you least expect it (don't they all?). HipKey is designed to prevent those incidences by helping you keep track on important things and people. It's a small, crescent moon-shaped proximity device that'll fit in your pocket or attach to your keys.

HipKey review: Setup

Connecting your iPad or iPhone via Bluetooth, the HipKey works with a free app that you can download from the iOS App Store. Setup is easy, and there's also a demo if you want to get to know the app better before you begin using it. We'd suggest that the demo is worth a read-through, because it's actually more complicated to use the HipKey than you might imagine.

HipKey review: Features

There are four different HipKey modes that can be activated and customized using the HipKey app: Alarm Mode, Child Mode, Motion Mode and Find Me.

Find Me is the most simple. If you're not sure where your phone is but have the HipKey handy, you can press the button on the HipKey to make the alarm sound on your iPhone. This works the other way round, too. So, if you've got the HipKey attached to your keys, you can tap a button on the iPhone app to make the alarm sound on the HipKey.

I actually found this most useful in day-to-day use, as misplacing my keys within my home is a regular occurrence.

Alarm Mode will alert you if your HipKey and iPhone or iPad are moved too far away from one another. For example, if you have your HipKey attached to your keys and you walk out of a café with those keys but not your iPhone, your HipKey will beep, alerting you to your forgetfulness and prompting you to turn back. This also works the other way round, if you leave your keys in your house when you leave for work, for example.

This mode is adjustable – you can set the volume of the alarm, vibration settings (the HipKey has a vibrate function that we found quite effective) and the sensitivity. If you set the HipKey's sensitivity to high, the alarm will sound at a distance of 2-5 metres, set it to medium, and the alarm will sound when the HipKey is 15-20 metres away, while normal sensitivity is for distances closer to 50 metres. 

There's also the ability to set 'Safe Zones' within this mode. However, as the safe zone has to be 50 metres in radius or bigger, I found this feature to be quite useless. Perhaps if you work in a large office or school, the 50 metre radius would be suitable, but I got a fair distance away from my tiny house before I was out of the Safe Zone and the alarm went off.

The next mode is Child Mode, which is actually pretty similar to Alarm Mode. The main difference is that you can take a picture of your child "for your reference." Just in case you forget what they look like.

Again, you can adjust the volume, vibration and sensitivity settings just like with Alarm Mode, though there are no Safe Zones available here.

Once activated, attach the HipKey to your child and the iPhone will beep if the child goes further than your set radius (up to 50 metres).

I'd be worried about relying on the HipKey for such an important task. Not because its inaccurate – I found it worked well in the majority of my tests – but because, it is technology after all. What if you hadn't realised the HipKey was running out of battery (though it should last for more than two weeks on one charge) or if your iPhone runs out of battery without you realising? There's also a chance that your child will figure out how to detach the HipKey. (It just comes with an elasticated loop attachment).

It's a nice back-up for those rare occasions when concentration lapses, but I think vigilance is a better option here. 

Finally, there's Motion Mode. This worked flawlessly in our tests, alerting us to any movement of the HipKey. This could come in useful if you've got your bag resting beside a table in a café, because it'll let you know if a thief is trying to take it.

HipKey review: App

The app interface is not particularly appealing visually, but it does work in the way you expect it to. From the app you can change modes, and can check the battery life of the HipKey, too.

HipKey review: Conclusion

After testing out all of the HipKey's modes and features, I've concluded that the Find Me, Motion and Alarm Modes are effective, and could be a boon for forgetful people, or those worried about the security of their belongings. Child Mode is essentially just Alarm Mode with a new name, so feels like a bit of an attempt to add more features to the box.

Here's the thing: HipKey costs £70. For under £50, this could be a really great investment, and could offer a peace of mind. But for £70, I'd be worried about having another pricey device to lose.

A cheaper alternative is the Kensington Proximo, which costs £39 and comes with two tags (the HipKey only allows one tag). It also has a longer stated battery life, at six months, although this battery is not rechargeable while the HipKey's can be charged via USB.

Editor's Note: Our review sample of the HipKey was provided by CSR (Cambridge Silicon Radio), a British semiconductor designer which devised the low-energy Bluetooth 4.0 chip inside the HipKey.

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