DroneMobile Smart Car System REVIEW
One of the areas of technology that I have really been interested in recently is automotive technology. I feel like it’s an under-explored category that can really be developed into helpful tech for people who spend a lot of time in their vehicles. This past year, I upgraded my car stereo system to include the Alpine Halo9 iLX-F309 system that included Car Play. The addition of this system really changed the way I interacted with my truck and so it made me want more accessories and systems that would work with my car to make trips more enjoyable. I found exactly what I was looking for with DroneMobile’s Smart Car System.
DroneMobile has created a cohesive system that is designed to work with a variety of security and remote start equipment. I want to point out here that DroneMobile provides a Module & Harness that connects to your smartphone and the app that controls the entire system. It does not include a remote start and security system with it. Those have to be purchased and installed separately. The DroneMobile Smart Car System includes the DroneMobile Module, app, and subscription plan.
With the DroneMobile system you will be able to:
- Remotely start your vehicle
- Get security alerts if your car is broken into or otherwise tampered with
- Pinpoint your car’s exact location
- Lock and unlock your car’s doors
- Monitor the vehicle’s status — car locks and temperature
- Control and track your car from anywhere (thanks to cellular connection)
There are two types of modules that DroneMobile sells — the DR5400 and the DR-3400. They both connect via cellular data and include GPS technology for tracking purposes. The main difference in the two is that the DR-3400 strictly uses a 3G data connection (for US or Canadian customers), while the DR-5400 (for US customers) is powered by the AT&T LTE network with a 3G fallback. This means that you have limitless connectivity possibilities.
While most of the installation will likely be completed by a professional installer, the user will need to connect the DroneMobile module to the app by registering the serial number. Once that step is done, the user will need to select a subscription plan (starting at $5.99 per month) — the first 30 days is included at no charge.
The module device will be installed by an authorized retailer of DroneMobile. A data harness is included with the module and it connects to aftermarket remote state/security systems. The module should be mounted high up in the vehicle’s dash to ensure a solid cellular and GPS connection. After the unit is installed in your vehicle, it will start reporting back to your mobile phone via the DroneMobile app.
I worked with a local car stereo specialist, Dr. Dashboard, to have the DroneMobile unit installed. At the same time, I also had a universal remote start and security module installed. The entire appointment took about 4 hours to complete. Since I had all three of those devices installed at one appointment, I can’t comment on how long the installation of the DroneMobile unit itself takes. I can, however, say that the app activation process was pretty painless. I have the iPhone XS Max and so I’m using the iOS version of the app.
From the get-go, I can’t remember the last time I was so completely happy with a smart device system. DroneMobile’s smart system works together so beautifully, that you would think that the security and remote start equipment was all contained within DroneMobile’s system. In reality, I have the Firstech Max It Universal Remote Start & Security Module and the Compustar Prime G15 Remote Upgrade Kit working together with the DroneMobile system. I’ve not had any problems with the app talking to the DroneMobile device or any other system connections. In truth, the system has worked flawlessly. I’ve had the opportunity to use other types of car monitoring systems, but they’ve all plugged into the car’s OBD port and simply ‘monitored’ and not actively completed any tasks within the car. The DroneMobile module is an active participant in your car’s smart system.
I’ve had lots of opportunities to use the remote start feature of the system. But I actually had the greatest reason to use it within the past few days. If you have been keeping up with the weather reports for the midwestern United States in the past week, you will know that we’ve been experiencing the coldest temperatures and wind chills in this part of the country that we’ve seen in decades. They call it the Polar Vortex system. Earlier this week, we saw a low temperature of 1ºF. Most people would say that you should just stay home. Unfortunately, yesterday morning, I had to take my 85-year old grandmother to a doctor’s appointment. We had to brave 8-degree temperature and risk getting horribly sick or injured from the freezing cold. Not only was I able to have the truck warming up, but I was also able to unlock the doors for us so there was no fumbling with keys int he frigid air. THIS is the reason that I cannot advocate enough for the Drone Mobile system. I was able to start my car with my phone and we were able to enjoy a warm truck cabin for the 15 minutes we were in the car. Even though there are remote start systems available that work off of a keychain, the fact that I was able to remotely start my truck from anywhere in the house was a huge blessing. I was able to ensure that my grandmother wouldn’t suffer any consequences from exposure to the extreme cold temperatures — she doesn’t tolerate colder temps as it is — and therein lies the reason I am thankful to have DroneMobile’s system on my car.
As I mentioned above, one of the pieces of equipment I have as apart of this system is a remote for the security/remote start system. It has an extended range of up to 1000 feet, but even then, it’s not guaranteed to start or the car or arm the alarm system from inside a building. I’ve been in numerous places — restaurants, hospitals, school buildings, etc. — and using the app, I’ve never had an issue with my truck starting or otherwise communicating with it thanks to the cellular-to-app connection. I also like the fact that if I’m out of town and my fiance needs to get inside the truck, I can unlock it from anywhere and then monitor the locked status from the app to see if I need to re-lock it.
I have also received alerts to my phone when my truck has been disturbed in some way. Just yesterday, I woke up to find a notification that the alarm had been tripped on the vehicle. Thankfully, it appears that nothing had really been tampered with but I was still thankful to have the notification.
I think some potential users of this system might question the subscription plan purchase. I am usually one of those people, but knowing that the module communicates using LTE, I justify it by considering it as an add-on to my regular mobile device plan. For example, if I were to purchase an iPad with cellular data available and I added that to my monthly cellular bill, that would add a $10 device fee per month to my plan. So, I consider the DroneMobile part of that type of expense. Because the basic plan starts at $5.99 per month, it’s really a reasonable cost for this type of service.
I really haven’t experienced any issues with this system — at all. The only ‘problem’ I had was that I couldn’t control the DroneMobile app from my Apple Watch at first. This wasn’t a problem so much as an inconvenience that I knew would eventually be fixed through a software update down the road. DroneMobile just released version 4.0 in the iTunes App Store and the functionality I was looking for has been added. If you are an Android user, that app will be available within the next week as well.
I was a fan of reliable security and remote start of a vehicle before Drone Mobile, but now I’ll never suggest it again without the Drone Mobile system attached to it. If you have a smartphone, this is definitely the way to go. Not only do you have complete control for starting/stopping your car, but you also have security monitoring capabilities and tracking of the car. I really couldn’t ask for a better option for making a car smarter.
Originally published at macsources.com on February 4, 2019.