“Cheap”, “useful” and “electronics” aren't three words you'll often find in the same sentence, especially not when it comes to devices aimed at travelers. Combine those with “multi-purpose” and, well, the pickings are slim indeed.
As a result, my expectations weren't high when I was contacted by the makers of the iHere 3.0, a combination lost item tracker, car finder, separation alarm, camera remote and more, that costs under twenty dollars.
Surprisingly, though, the little gadget performed as advertised, and the various features were useful enough to make it worth recommending if you're heading off on vacaation. Here's how it fared.
Features and Design
Despite the name, the iHere isn't made by Apple, nor limited to working with just Apple products. It looks like it could be, though – a small white triangular gadget, with a single button in the middle to get it to do something.
The plastic casing doesn't feel particularly sturdy, and it's not waterproof, but I didn't have any reliability problems during testing. The company claims it'll handle a 7-foot drop without issue. The iHere is designed to be attached to a key ring, or anything else you can loop through the hole at the top.
Unlike many of its competitors, the device uses a rechargeable battery. It lasts a long time between charges – mine is still sitting around 80% after three weeks – and you'll get plenty of warning when it's running low. Charging is done via USB, but the cable has a unusual round tip that means if you lose it while you're traveling, good luck finding a replacement. Micro-USB would have been a much better option.
All of the useful features are accessed via the companion app (iOS and Android), which can be paired with several iHere's at once. In a nice touch, you can assign an icon (keys, suitcase, etc) or take your own photo to identify what each device is attached to. Connection to your phone is made via Bluetooth.
After charging the iHere for a few hours, pairing it with an Android phone over Bluetooth only took a few seconds. After downloading the app, it detected the device and I was able to edit basic settings like the name and icon.
By default, the separation alarm is turned on. Depending on what you've attached your iHere to, this may or may not be appropriate – it's useful for ensuring your phone and daypack don't get too far apart when you're traveling, for instance, but not necessarily for keys or other equipment. It worked as expected, however, with the alarm sounding once I moved the phone and device more than several feet apart.
The app is reasonably self-explanatory, but there is a user manual online if needed. The app has two main screens, “Find” and “Click”. As the name suggests, the former lets you track down the iHere by tapping an on-screen button. Within a couple of seconds, the device started sounding an alarm that was loud enough to hear from another room. If it's buried under other objects, you'll need to listen carefully.
The “Click” screen lets you choose what you'd like the button on the iHere to do. By default, it's set to help find your phone, disabling silent mode, setting the volume to full and sounding an alarm. A second click turns the alarm off. It worked as it should, although you'll need to be within Bluetooth range – don't expect it to find the phone you left in a cab half an hour ago.
Other choices, likely in descending usefulness, include “Take Selfies”, “Car Finder” and “Voice Recorder”. Despite the name, you don't need to take photos of yourself with the first option. Clicking once on the iHere activates the front-facing camera, but you can tap an icon to switch to the rear camera instead. Clicking again will take a photo.
As well as selfies, this is useful for when you've got your phone on a tripod and want to take low-light or long-exposure photos without blur, or group shots without leaving anyone out. It worked well, and I found myself using this feature several times during the review period.
“Car Finder” is an interesting one. After selecting the option in the app, clicking the iHere will save your current location. When you want to be guided back there later, the app shows the distance and direction you need to go. You don't need to use it just for cars, either – since it's not Bluetooth-based, you could use it to point you in the right direction for your hotel, a designated meeting point or anything else.
Finally, the Voice Recorder lets you save voice memos. Click once to start recording, and again to stop. You'll see a list of recordings in the app, with their duration, time and date. It's useful if you like making quick reminders for yourself, but not particularly otherwise.
As mentioned, I was surprisingly impressed by the Nonda iHere 3.0. The battery life is excellent, the device and the companion app worked as expected, and it has genuinely useful aspects for travelers.
The price is low enough to make it an impulse purchase, and although none of the features are absolute “must-haves” by themselves, the combination makes for a gadget worth recommending. While there are a few aspects like the charger type and lack of waterproofing that aren't ideal, they're minor issues with what is otherwise a useful travel accessory.