We often get asked what’s the best iBeacon? Unfortunately, there is no one best beacon for all scenarios. It depends on your particular project and business requirements. Having said this we have some favourites based on specific characteristics:
Best for Price: FSC-BP103 – Inexpensive beacon that transmits up to 10 channels simultaneously:
Best for Features:M52-SA Plus – Large easy replaceable battery, long range, temperature, humidity, accelerometer:
Best for Battery Life:SmartBeacon-AA Pro – Allows use of 4x AA batteries. Use lithium AA batteries for 7+ year battery life (also depends on settings).
Best for Setup App:Minew range – Minew’s latest BeaconPlus range (those supporting both iBeacon and Eddystone) provides the best in class app.
There’s a new Mr Beacon podcast with Eason Huang of Minew. It describes how Minew focus mainly on hardware rather than full solutions and how they provide re-branded hardware for many platforms and beacon providers. Steve Statler (Mr Beacon) provides the insight that many of those platforms don’t really want to sell hardware and they are often focussing on software their customers might not necessarily want.
The conversation turns to the growth and challenges of IoT. The main challenges are lack of clarity of return on investiment (ROI), proof of concepts (POC) taking too long and end results not being scalable. Eason identifies that better preparation is required before starting. Steve suggests projects should initially bring in consultants to provide expert and neutral advice.
The podcast resonates with what we do at Beaconzone. We set up Beaconzone because we identified the reliance on subscription-based cloud platforms and beacons locked to platforms was limiting the available information, products and solutions. We set up BeaconZone in 2015 to provide for standalone solutions, using original manufacture beacons, not locked to subscriptions. We use and stock Minew and tens of other manufacturers’ beacons and gateways.
The issues of IoT projects also resonates with what we have seen through providing consultancy. Too many people come to us, too late, with projects that shouldn’t have been started because they had obvious technical limitations or have been developed in a direction that makes them technically or financially non-viable. A small amount of expert advice, early on, can make a huge difference and reduce risk.
Even when organisations know they should seek initial help and contact us, we sometimes find they are reticent about investing what is a relatively small amount of money compared to a failed POC cost. The reason is that these organisations have no experience of using Bluetooth for IoT so don’t know the unknown unknowns. Everything looks feasible until they are deep into the POC. It’s for these situations that we also offer quick, low priced Micro Consultancy.
Tracker beacons are different from normal beacons in that they are designed to be connected to an app for the majority of the time. Non-tracker beacons just advertise and aren’t usually connected except for setup.
The F6 comes with iOS and Android SDKs that provide for bonding/pairing with a password, listening to events such as connecting, connected, disconnected, getting the MAC address and RSSI, ringing the tracker, receiving a button press event, receiving a notification n seconds after disconnect and disconnecting at a given distance (received signal power level, RSSI).
We now have the white variant of the Minew i3 in stock.
The i3 is a twin AA battery (not included) beacon with a range up to 200m. It advertises up to 6 channels at the same time that can be iBeacon, Eddystone UID, Eddystone URL, Eddystone TLM and device info.
We have recently started stocking the Minew S1. Minew have a video showing how to change the battery:
If you are changing the batteries we recommend you use Lithium batteries, such as Energizer Lithium, rather than alkaline batteries. This gives a longer battery life, flatter decrease in voltage over time and better resilience under lower temperatures.
We recently started selling the Minew F4, a quality tracking beacon with external on/off button, 85dBm buzzer and range of up to 50m. The battery last about 6 months. Minew have a video how to change the battery:
There’s a T-Finder iOS and Android app on the app stores but the intention is that this beacon will be used with your own apps and solutions using the supplied Android and iOS SDK.
The S1 beacon is a temperature/humidity beacon that we supply in 3 variants. It’s not immediately obvious how the batteries should be replaced. The manufacturer, Minew, has a video showing how to access the screws to open the case: