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Price: Monthly plan

De­signed for the guardians of spe­cial-needs chil­dren, the Angelsense GPS tracker of­fers con­stant track­ing, fre­quent lo­ca­tion alerts, and a way to call a child who can’t or won’t pick up a phone call on their own. The de­vice has the po­ten­tial to be a life­saver, but it does come with a steep monthly bill—along with thorny pri­vacy and le­gal is­sues raised by Angelsense’s “Lis­ten-in” fea­ture.


Mea­sur­ing about 4.5 x 2.5 x 0.5 inches and weigh­ing a lit­tle over five ounces, the Angelsense GPS de­vice is about the size and weight of a small­ish touch­screen phone—and that’s ex­actly what it is, as you’ll dis­cover if you re­move the Angelsense de­vice from its thick ny­lon sleeve.

The Angelsense module is de­signed to stay in its sleeve at all times, with the de­vice it­self (a cus­tom­ized LG smart­phone) en­cased in a wa­ter-re­sis­tant sil­i­cone cover com­plete with red “Do Not Re­move!” stick­ers. Though the touch­screen lights up when you press and hold the power but­ton—which, in­ci­den­tally, only re­boots the de­vice rather than powering it off—the dis­play will go dark again within a few sec­onds.

The sleeve it­self fea­tures a pair of fasteners on the top and bot­tom, but no con­trols at all save for a power but­ton along the side

(which, when po­si­tioned prop­erly, sits atop the hand­set’s power but­ton). It also has an open­ing in the bot­tom for a micro-usb charg­ing cable.

Once in­side its sleeve, the Angelsense can be fas­tened in a child’s backpack, pocket, or worn as a belt (us­ing an op­tional bel­te­quipped sleeve). A lock­able pin (sim­i­lar to the anti-theft de­vices used by re­tail stores) keeps the Angelsense sleeve se­curely in place. I fas­tened the Angelsense hand­set to a backpack, and it felt like it wasn’t go­ing any­where.

Ser­vice costs

The Angelsense “Guardian Kit,” which in­cludes the de­vice it­self, a travel case, a sleeve, a charger, a trio

of fasteners, and a mag­netic key for un­lock­ing the fasteners, goes for $79.

The monthly ser­vice plan, which cov­ers un­lim­ited GPS track­ing and 60 min­utes of voice calls, costs a $53 a month. That’s con­sid­er­ably more than, say, the $5 monthly fee for the LG Giz­mo­gad­get track­ing watch, but the LG de­vice does re­quire a Ver­i­zon Wire­less sub­scrip­tion.

You can knock the Angelsense’s monthly fee down to $40 a month with a one-year con­tract, or $33.33 a month for a full year paid in ad­vance (which comes out to about $400 for the en­tire year).


Get­ting the Angelsense up and run­ning takes just a few min­utes. Once you en­ter your user­name and pass­word into the Angelsense GPS por­tal, a short ques­tion­naire helps you de­ter­mine how long your child might take to grow ac­cus­tomed to the de­vice, based on fac­tors such as age, spe­cial needs (from autism and Asperger’s to OCD or gen­eral anx­i­ety), and de­gree of sen­sory sen­si­tiv­ity. Depend­ing on your an­swers, the por­tal may ad­vise that it’ll take any­where from a week to a month or more for your kid to grow used to wear­ing the Angelsense.

Once you’re done with the ques­tion­naire, all you need to do is make sure the de­vice is charged up. Within a minute or so, the Angelsense’s lo­ca­tion should pop up on a map within the Angelsense app or web­site.

Through the Set­tings sec­tion of the app, you can add more care­givers who can track, call, or even lis­ten in on your child (more on the “Lis­ten-in” fea­ture in a mo­ment). You can also add a list of first re­spon­ders, such as school of­fi­cials or law en­force­ment, who can get a text mes­sage with a track­ing link in case your loved one isn’t where they’re sup­posed to be.

Track­ing and mon­i­tor­ing

Un­like other GPS track­ing de­vices that pin­point your child only dur­ing sched­uled times or when you man­u­ally tap the Find but­ton, Angelsense GPS up­dates its po­si­tion fre­quently and au­to­mat­i­cally, par­tic­u­larly when your child is in tran­sit or at a lo­ca­tion you haven’t pre­vi­ously la­beled.

In my tests, Angelsense’s GPS read­ings were timely and, gen­er­ally speak­ing, ac­cu­rate to within a half-block or less. While Angelsense is prone to the same cel­lu­lar and GPS re­cep­tion problems as other de­vices (par­tic­u­larly when in­doors), the de­vice does sup­port Wi-fi—handy for keep­ing track of your child if their school or other fre­quently-vis­ited lo­ca­tions have spotty cel­lu­lar coverage.

If you’re wor­ried that your kid is lost or wan­der­ing, you can en­able Run­ner Mode, which boosts the fre­quency of GPS track­ing (at the ex­pense of bat­tery life). Op­tion­ally, you can send out an alert to the first re­spon­ders you’ve pre­vi­ously des­ig­nated, com­plete with a link that’ll let them track your miss­ing child. You can also ac­ti­vate ei­ther a soft or loud alarm on the Angelsense de­vice to help searchers lo­cate your kid.

Call­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion fea­tures

Angelsense GPS’S “An­gel­call” fea­ture is de­signed specif­i­cally for spe­cial-needs kids who aren’t able to use a tra­di­tional cell phone or call­ing de­vice. It lets you call your child with­out re­quir­ing her to pick up a re­ceiver or press any but­tons. Just tap the Call icon on the Angelsense app, and the Angelsense GPS de­vice will ring briefly and au­to­mat­i­cally put you on speak­er­phone. Any calls you make will count against the 60 call­ing min­utes in­cluded in your monthly Angelsense plan.

This An­gel­call fea­ture is what Angelsense means in its specs by “two-way call­ing.” Just keep in mind that your kid can’t ini­ti­ate a call us­ing the Angelsense de­vice—it is al­ways a par­ent or care­giver with Angelsense ac­cess who makes the call.

“Lis­ten-in” fea­ture

In ad­di­tion to the call­ing, the Angelsense also has a “Lis­ten-in” fea­ture that lets you dis­creetly hear what­ever’s go­ing on near your child. The fea­ture works more or less like Angelsense’s two-way An­gel­calls, ex­cept there’s no ring­tone or alert to warn any­one that you’re lis­ten­ing.

Par­ents with spe­cial-needs kids who tend to walk out of school or oth­er­wise wan­der off de­scribe Angelsense’s Lis­ten-in fea­ture as in­valu­able and even life­sav­ing in an emergency. You could also use Lis­ten-in to make sure your child is safe while they’re in tran­sit or vis­it­ing an un­fa­mil­iar set­ting.

In my tests, Angelsense’s GPS read­ings were timely and, gen­er­ally speak­ing, ac­cu­rate to within a half-block or less.

While Angelsense’s Lis­ten-in fea­ture is doubt­less re­as­sur­ing for the par­ents of spe­cial-needs chil­dren, it also raises pri­vacy and le­gal is­sues. For its part, Angelsense urges its users to dis­close the Lis­ten-in fea­ture to care­tak­ers and ed­u­ca­tors. In­deed, the com­pany pro­vides down­load­able form let­ters that de­scribe the ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ra­tio­nale be­hind the Lis­ten-in fea­ture, handy for no­ti­fy­ing school of­fi­cials or care­givers that you have the abil­ity to eaves­drop on them. For schools that don’t al­low Lis­ten-in at all, you can au­to­mat­i­cally dis­able the fea­ture dur­ing school hours on the Angelsense Set­tings screen.

Above and be­yond the rules of your school, how­ever, are fed­eral, state and lo­cal pri­vacy laws. Some states (in­clud­ing Cal­i­for­nia, New York, New Jer­sey, Texas, and Florida) bar the record­ing or “in­ter­cep­tion” of a con­ver­sa­tion un­less one or all of the par­tic­i­pants are aware they’re be­ing mon­i­tored. While Angelsense says its Lis­ten-in fea­ture doesn’t ac­tu­ally record con­ver­sa­tions, the mere act of eaves­drop­ping with­out the con­sent of some or all of the in­volved par­ties could be con­sid­ered a crime, depend­ing where you are.

While an en­tire page of Angelsense’s sup­port site is de­voted to the le­gal is­sues sur­round­ing Lis­ten-in, the ser­vice should do a bet­ter job of warn­ing par­ents about state and lo­cal pri­vacy laws be­fore they use the fea­ture for the first time. Af­ter pass­ing along my feed­back, an Angelsense PR rep told me the com­pany would make changes to its ini­tial setup process to highlight Lis­ten-in’s le­gal is­sues.

Bat­tery life

Be­cause the Angelsense GPS de­vice is con­stantly check­ing in with its lo­ca­tion, bat­tery life is rel­a­tively short com­pared to that of other GPS track­ers I’ve tried. In my tests, the Angelsense hand­set only lasted about 18 hours be­fore its bat­tery ran out. That means

you’d need to be dili­gent about charg­ing the Angelsense every night, just as you would with a smart­phone.

The good news is that you can set the Angelsense to email or text you when its bat­tery level falls be­low 20 per­cent. You can also cre­ate daily alerts to re­mind your­self to charge the de­vice.


Angelsense GPS of­fers some of the most com­pre­hen­sive mon­i­tor­ing fea­tures we’ve seen in a GPS track­ing de­vice, and it’s the one of the few de­signed specif­i­cally for spe­cial­needs chil­dren and their par­ents. That said, the monthly ser­vice charge for the pow­er­hun­gry Angelsense GPS isn’t cheap, and you should be aware of the pri­vacy and legals is­sues sur­round­ing the “Lis­ten-in” fea­ture be­fore you start us­ing it

LG GIZMOPAL 2 Price: $80

Among the GPS track­ing watches avail­able, the Ver­i­zon Wire­less-ex­clu­sive LG Gizmopal 2 is one of the cheaper op­tions. But be­ing af­ford­able doesn’t make it no­tably worse than its com­pe­ti­tion: We liked its sim­ple con­trols, light­weight yet rugged de­sign, two-way call­ing, and a rel­a­tively cheap monthly charge.

Pric­ing and monthly plans

As a Ver­i­zon ex­clu­sive, the $80 Gizmopal 2 re­quires ser­vice through Ver­i­zon to pur­chase one. Once you’ve paid for the watch it­self, a $5 monthly fee (a.k.a. the “ac­cess fee” for us­ing a de­vice on your Ver­i­zon plan) al­lows you to use the voice min­utes and data of an es­tab­lished monthly ser­vice plan.


Avail­able in ei­ther pink or blue, the half-inch thick, 1.6-ounce Gizmopal 2 feels feath­er­weight de­spite its bulky 1.5 x 1.9-inch face.

I was able to strap the Gizmopal to my six-year-old daugh­ter’s diminu­tive wrist us­ing the third-to-last notch, but within an hour or

so she was com­plain­ing that the wrist­band was too tight. Strap­ping on the watch over the cuff of a long-sleeved shirt def­i­nitely helped, but par­ents should keep in mind that keep­ing the Gizmopal 2 on a small wrist can be a chal­lenge.

Both the body and the wrist­band of the Gizmopal 2 felt tough, firm, and a bit rub­bery. If you wish to per­son­al­ize the de­vice, Ver­i­zon sells re­place­ment watch bands—avail­able in six col­ors—for $35 each. The Gizmopal 2 is also wa­ter re­sis­tant (Ipx7-rated), mean­ing it can han­dle be­ing splashed or even dropped into shal­low wa­ter.

The face of the Gizmopal 2 is quite sim­ple: just a big black screen (non-touch) with a trio of small icons for Bat­tery, Call, and Play. The blue re­view unit I re­ceived had a pro­tec­tive face sticker with a nifty sports de­sign and a cutout that kept the Bat­tery, Call, and Play icons in view. While you can peel the sticker off, I de­cided to leave it on, in part so that the Gizmopal 2 would look more like a toy and less like a pricey smart­watch.

A Micro USB charg­ing port sits on the back of the Gizmopal 2. Just flick up the pro­tec­tive cover to plug in the charg­ing cable.


Get­ting started with the Gizmopal 2 is a straight­for­ward process. You first in­stall the Giz­mo­hub app to an iphone or An­droid phone, then you turn on your new Gizmopal to ob­tain its phone num­ber. You plug that num­ber into the Giz­mo­hub app, fol­low the prompts, and wait a few min­utes for the watch to pair with the app.

Once that’s done, you can use the Giz­mo­hub app to add up to four con­tacts to the Gizmopal 2 for two-way call­ing. (You add the first one as the pri­mary “care­giver” dur­ing the ini­tial setup process.) First you add the num­ber, then type in a name, and fi­nally pick a nick­name (like “Daddy,” “Mommy,” or “Grandma”) from a pull-down menu.

Track­ing and mon­i­tor­ing

You can track your child’s cur­rent lo­ca­tion at any time sim­ply by open­ing the Gizmo Hub app and tap­ping the Find but­ton in the bot­tom cor­ner of the map. In my tests, it took any­where from 30 sec­onds to a few min­utes for the app the pin­point the Gizmopal 2’s lo­ca­tion.

You can also cre­ate up to 10 “Lo­ca­tion Checks,” which check your child’s lo­ca­tion at a pre­de­ter­mined time and day. For ex­am­ple, you can set a Lo­ca­tion Check for 4:30 p.m. every Tues­day, or at 12:00 noon each week­day. You’ll get a no­ti­fi­ca­tion on your smart­phone af­ter each lo­ca­tion check, whether they’re suc­cess­ful or not.

The face of the Gizmopal 2 is quite sim­ple: just a big black screen (non-touch) with a trio of small icons for Bat­tery, Call, and Play.

Fi­nally, you can cre­ate up to five “Place Alerts,” which let you know if your child has en­tered or left a cer­tain area within a given time win­dow. For ex­am­ple, you could cre­ate a Place Alert to let you know if your kid made it to school in the morn­ing, and an­other Place Alert for leav­ing school in the after­noon.

The one weak­ness of Place Alerts, how­ever, is that you can’t set them to stay on in­def­i­nitely. In­stead, you must set a time win­dow for each alert, and each win­dow can be no more than two hours long.

Per­son­ally, I’d love to be able to set an all-day Place Alert for school, just so I’d know if my daugh­ter left school in the mid­dle of the day for some rea­son. How­ever, the likely rea­son that you’re lim­ited to five Place Alerts and ten Lo­ca­tion Checks is that adding more would un­duly tax the Gizmopal 2’s diminu­tive, watched-sized bat­tery.

Call­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion fea­tures

You can call your child’s Gizmopal 2 from within the Giz­mo­hub app or sim­ply by di­al­ing the watch’s Ver­i­zon Wire­less phone num­ber. When you call, the phone’s ringer will sound, and an au­to­mated voice will an­nounce the caller. (For ex­am­ple: “Daddy is call­ing.”) To pick up, your child just needs to press the Call but­ton. The only peo­ple who can call your kid’s Gizmopal 2 are those whose numbers you pre­vi­ously pro­grammed into the watch’s con­tact list.

If your kid wants to place a call, her first step is to press the Call but­ton. When she does, the phone in­structs her to press the Call but­ton to reach the first con­tact on her list (like “Daddy,” for ex­am­ple) or to press the Play but­ton to hear the next con­tact. Press­ing Play will al­low her to cy­cle through the re­main­ing con­tacts avail­able. My six-year-old picked up the sys­tem pretty quickly, and be­fore I knew it, she’d left a half-dozen gig­gly voice­mails on my An­droid phone and her mom’s iphone.

You can set “quiet times” for school hours and other pe­ri­ods us­ing the Giz­mo­hub app, up to 10 sep­a­rate times at once. No au­dio will

play, be it a ring­tone or a sound ef­fect. If your kid gets an in­com­ing Gizmopal call dur­ing quiet time, a teal Call icon will blink on the phone’s dis­play. Just keep in mind that the watch lacks a vi­bra­tion fea­ture, so if your child doesn’t see the flash­ing Call light, she’ll prob­a­bly miss the call.

The LG Gizmopal 2 lacks any kind of “panic” but­ton or auto-dial 911 fea­ture, although you could al­ways add 911 as a con­tact.

Ex­tra fea­tures

While LG has cu­ri­ously omit­ted a dig­i­tal clock from the face of the Gizmopal 2, the watch will read the time aloud if you press and hold the Call but­ton, even dur­ing a des­ig­nated quiet hour.

For en­ter­tain­ment, the Gizmopal of­fers “Fun Sounds,” which ba­si­cally just plays amus­ing au­dio clips when­ever your kid hits the Play but­ton. The se­lec­tion ranges from un­der­wa­ter noises and walkie-talkie sounds (“Breaker one-nine!”) to space ef­fects and “DJ” sounds.

While five- or six-year-olds might be sat­is­fied with Fun Sounds, older kids will prob­a­bly tire of them quickly. If you’re look­ing for a kid-friendly GPS track­ing watch with more ro­bust fea­tures, con­sider step­ping up to the $150 LG


Bat­tery life

The Gizmopal 2’s bat­tery is rated for 9 days of standby time and 2.5 hours of solid use. In prac­tice, I found the Gizmopal 2 could run for a few days on a sin­gle charge, but that was with only one or two lo­ca­tion checks per day, plus a phone call every cou­ple of days. If you set up each and every Lo­ca­tion Check and Place Alert the Gizmopal 2 can han­dle and make fre­quent phone calls, the watch’s bat­tery life will take a se­ri­ous hit.


Tough, light­weight, and easy to use, the Ver­i­zon Wire­less-ex­clu­sive LG Gizmopal 2 makes for a rel­a­tively cheap, sim­ple way to keep track of your kids. That said, you’ll have to set­tle for a mea­ger num­ber of lo­ca­tion alerts, while older chil­dren might be bored by the watch’s bare-bones fea­tures and ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Angelsense GPS de­vice (which is ba­si­cally a cus­tom­ized LG touch­screen phone) comes en­cased in a wa­ter-re­sis­tant sil­i­cone cover.

The Angelsense GPS app keeps con­stant track of a child, par­tic­u­larly when they’re in tran­sit or at a place they don’t reg­u­larly visit.

Un­der­stand your state and lo­cal pri­vacy laws be­fore us­ing Lis­ten-in.

The LG Gizmopal 2’s wrist­band was a bit too large for my six-year-old, but strap­ping it over her shirt sleeve helped.

The LG Gizmopal 2 will track your child’s lo­ca­tion within a few min­utes, once you tap the Find but­ton that sits in the bot­tom cor­ner of the screen.

The three-icon dis­play on the LG Gizmopal 2’s face is ba­sic but easy to grasp, par­tic­u­larly for lit­tle ones.

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