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Why no-one should buy an rLink SR-I1100 GPS tracker

Discussion in 'Electronics' at netrider.net.au started by GJ384, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. When I bought my bike a little over a year ago, I decided to have a GPS tracker installed for various reasons:

    1. To have a little more peace of mind knowing that if it was ever stolen it could be found again.
    2. To be able to review the rides I'd done, being able to see the route, distance, speed along the way etc.
    3. To keep loved ones updated on my progress through a long ride, either via automatic text message updates or being able to see me on an online map.

    After a little research I decided to give the rLink SR-I1100 a try. It cost me a little over $500, and the dealer fitted the unit for me when I bought the bike.

    At first it seemed to work reasonably well - the unit has a proximity sensor which (after a little fine tuning) reliably set off the alarm if someone sat on the bike or attempted to tamper with it. Arming and disarming was also very reliable, as long as the battery in the remote isn't flat. I was also able to see the location of the bike via an online interface, which looked pretty impressive. An $11 per month fee applies for the tracking subscription via cellular data network, which seemed like pretty good value to me.

    However a few months later I began to notice a few things which didn't impress me so much, and have reached the conclusion that the unit can do NONE of the three things I wanted it to be able to do.

    1. Vodafone only

    The unit connects to the cellular network through Vodafone's 2G data system. You cannot select a different provider, nor swap the SIM card for any other. Anyone who lives in Australia will know that out of all of the major cellular networks, Vodafone would have to be the absolute worst in terms of coverage. In effect, this means that if someone steals my bike, all they have to do is take it outside a metro area (or sometimes even just around the corner, knowing Vodafone), and no-one will ever be able to find it again, because the unit can't connect to the cellular network to tell the server where it is. This fact alone renders the unit completely useless for the purpose of theft tracking.

    2. Lost reception often means lost for good

    Given that the abovementioned loss of reception happens very frequently, I would have thought the unit might store a history of locations which it could then send in bulk when coverage was available again - but this does not happen. In addition, often when coverage is lost the unit seems to enter some kind of undocumented long term "sleep mode," which results in the need to do a hard reset (remove seat, find fuse, remove fuse, realise it was the wrong fuse, replace fuse, reset clock, insert earplugs, gingerly try different fuse, wait 5 minutes, put fuse back in again) in order to have the unit even attempt to search for cellular reception again.

    3. SMS alerts not available in Australia

    While the box and website advertise the unit's ability to send SMS alerts when the alarm is triggered, when the shock or tilt sensors are activated, when the bike passes through waypoints and enters or exits user-defined geofences, this feature is not available in Australia. Since the 2G network is used, the unit cannot send or receive SMS. It is able to send email alerts for the above triggers, which is the next best thing I suppose, but I was really keen on the SMS feature.

    4. Mapped paths do not fit roads

    While I would assume most other GPS tracking units create paths which fit the roads on a map, the rLink does not do this - it simply draws a straight line between the location points reported by the tracker unit. Maps then end up looking like this:


    I probably don't need to explain that I didn't actually do an awesome massive jump from Bilpin to Mount Victoria during the above ride.

    4. Waypoints rarely (if ever) activate

    Due to the above issue, if I was to set a waypoint at almost any point along Bells Line of Road, the waypoint would NEVER be activated, since I would never appear to have passed through it. This doesn't only happen on rural roads though - since the unit only sends a GPS location once every 30 seconds or so, if the roads you're riding on have any bend in them whatsoever, chances are your waypoint won't activate - there's even less chance if you've put the waypoint anywhere near a corner. See the below screenshot for an example in an urban area - I had set a etst waypoint at the corners of Rookwood Rd/Brunker Rd, Anzac St/Brunker Rd, Brunker Rd/Hume Hwy, and Hume Hwy/Muir Rd, but none of these waypoints activated when I passed through them, since the path directly between the plotted points "cut the corners."


    5. Facebook integration, along with advertised "group rides" feature, does not work

    This feature is simply not available. rLink support have told me that "Facebook links and group ride were disabled when Facebook changed their third party links and settings. We are currently researching options to re-enable these features." - but a year after buying the unit, still no support.

    6. Advertised "point-to-point weather updates" feature does not exist

    When I asked rLink how to enable this, I was told that "Point to point weather updates are not a feature of the rLiNK system." Never mind both the box and the manual mentioning this as a feature...

    7. No option to use KM - miles only

    This is an American product, and they do not support metric anything. Despite explaining to rLink that we've been using kilometres in Australia for almost 40 years now and find they're working out quite well for us, there is no option to switch to metric measurement, and no plans to enable this in the future.

    8. No support for local time zone - US EST only

    Again, American product, America-centric interface. Email alerts quote US EST times, rather than the local time, even despite setting the local time zone to Sydney in the web interface.

    9. Geofences are unreliable

    While you can set up to 9 geofences and select the type of alert (on entry, on exit, or both), it seems to be up to chance whether or not the geofence will actually trigger alerts. Some geofences trigger both types of alert every time, while others trigger no alerts ever despite repeated entry and exit.

    10. Excessive battery drain while in standby mode

    The box and manual assure that there will be only minimal power consumption while the unit is in "long term power saving deep sleep" mode, I have found that if the bike is switched off for more than four days, the battery has lost enough power that the bike will not start. I've had the battery tested and no faults are present - the unit just draws far too much power in standby. After being caught out far too many times, I now have my bike on trickle charge whenever it is garaged.

    Once I've posted this review, I'll be removing the unit from my bike, and cancelling my data plan. The product is completely useless, and does not acceptably perform the functions which are advertised on the company's website and on the product's box.

    If anyone is considering adding a GPS tracker to their bike, I would strongly recommend you go with a different product.
    • Like Like x 4
  2. It's hard to identify a GOOD point about this product, then!

    Thanks for the warning.

    Is there a product which does the same job, and actually works?
  3. Good review. Suck that rLink!
  4. In their defence, that's normal when using raster based maps. I run a GPS logger/tracker in my 4x4 (using VHF & HF radio instead of SMS/Cellular) and it does exactly the same thing:

    aprs. (clicky)

    The rest of your points definitely point to it being crap though.

    You know you've got two point 4's? :p
  5. I think there's one called Tramigo which - at least based on what I've read - should be able to do the job... As long as what they claim on their website is actually what it does (which wasn't the case with the rLink!)... I haven't tried a Tramigo though but I'll be considering it...
  6. Yep, they told me it was "normal behaviour." Wish they'd said that on the box... Means there's no point having the waypoint feature at all.

    I blame rLink! :whistle:
  7. Wow, seems like not just a crap product but also a company that couldn't care less about foreign markets.
    Always nice to see honest reviews, and not the usual paid-for arse kissing you find in most bike mags.
  8. Thanks ! Great post
  9. I can recommend Fleetdynamics.com.au
  10. Thanks for the review Gareth,
  11. Consumer affairs might be an option, if most of their claims are untrue!
  12. Hi Gareth, thanks for the review. I think you have a good case for a refund as the item is not fit for the purpose it claims. You should contact the department of fair trading.
  13. Sue the arse off them!

    Quite why you'd want all these strange and wonderful features, I have no idea, but, if you bought it on the basis that it would do "stuff" and it doesn't, at the very least you want your money back.
  14. It was a couple of years ago now, and I doubt I'd be able to find the receipts. Wish I'd thought of the fair trading option back then. If I can find the receipts I might see if I can go for a refund and then take it further if that doesn't work out. Wonder if I can get my 12m x $11/month data fees back too... haha.