UPDATED: Steve's Complete SportDOG TEK Review
Roadtesting the SportDOG TEK Series GPS Tracking System with Remote Dog Training Collar(Show me the SportDOG TEK GPS + Ecollar)
By Steve Snell
I was fortunate enough to be included in the early design phases of the new SportDOG TEK Series Tracking System with Remote Dog Training Collar. I've been involved with the design for over two years, and during the past few months, I've even been able to test the prototypes.
This handheld 2-in-1 collar is designed to compete with the Garmin Astro GPS system -- a pretty tough job, if you ask me, as the Garmin system is simply amazing. Garmin hasn't had any competition since 2007, and based on my tests, the TEK is going to give Garmin a pretty good run for its money.
The SportDOG TEK, which will be the only 2-in-1 unit on the market, does have a different spin than the Astro on GPS tracking. The SportDOG TEK has a training-based approach and focuses more on finding your dog quickly, whereas the Garmin approach is a little more GPS map or history-based.
Although I was initially concerned about combining tracking with an ecollar, it's interesting to look back on what my initial thoughts were and how the system actually turned out. I've had a lot of fun working with this new product. SportDOG's done a really nice job of listening and adjusting and making a product that fits the needs of the consumer. The TEK is also incredibly versatile. That's probably the thing that's excited me the most about it.
While I found both things I liked and disliked, I ended up being pleased with the final version. The TEK has some features that we haven't seen before in an ecollar system OR a GPS tracking collar system, and it's going to really change the way we do things. Here's how the TEK measures up.
SPORTDOG TEK: A Tracking and Training System
The SportDOG TEK Series gives you GPS-based tracking with a fully functional ecollar, all operated from the same handheld. It combines two systems into one so that you can track up to 12 dogs at one time and use a quick, well-thought-out ecollar that works for a large selection of dogs.
The SportDOG TEK system is actually one handheld unit with a GPS collar that has a separate ecollar piece that nests inside it, so the collar is actually two pieces that screw together. This design gives you flexibility -- you don't have to buy both systems at once.
The 2-in-1 collar is $699.99. If you don't want the ecollar option now, you can buy the GPS tracking only. You still have the option of adding the remote training collar option at a later time (but you pay about $50 more than if you had bought it all together up front). The two units being separate pieces also allows you the option of removing the ecollar part if you need to run in competition events that don't allow stimulation collars.
I think that a lot of folks are going to find that they like having both capabilities in one handheld. It's pretty neat to be able to watch the dogs on the screen and make corrections from the same handheld. You don't have to go back and forth between a GPS and an ecollar transmitter, or a Transceiver, as SportDOG calls its handheld unit. The handhelds acts as a transmitter for the ecollar and GPS receiver at the same time.
Typically, when I get any kind of combination system, no matter what type of product, part of it suffers. My concern was that the ecollar was going to suffer in this design, and I was wrong. The TEK is a pretty awesome remote training collar. While the SportDOG TEK does have a few limitations in the GPS, what I like is that I am able tell you where my dog is, what he's doing, what direction he's moving in, and how far away he is from me faster than any other product I've used over the last 15 years. It's a really fast, clean interface.
SPORTDOG TEK: A Different Approach to GPS Tracking
SportDOG is a dog training products company, so the GPS part of the TEK is a much less sophistacated design -- it's more about finding your dog quickly than mapping your dog. "I want to know where my dog is and I want to know what he's doing as fast as possible."
SportDOG has approached the TEK more from the e-collar side of the street. SportDOG is probably going to get banged up a little bit from the standpoint of, "Well, they couldn't do the maps so they didn't." While that may be true, that's not exactly how I look at it.
In the TEK's tracking screen each dog is represented by a V-shaped arrow which points in the direction that the dog is moving. At the bottom of that screen it lists each dog with a distance read out which tells you how far the dog is from you.
What the TEK does not have is any sort of trail or track. You don't see any sort of history for the dog, but you can see how far the dog is away from you and which direction he's moving in which gives us is a really clean screen. You can see from one screen where your dog is in relation to you, and you can see which direction he's moving in, and you can see how far away he is from you. And having the faster update rate gives you more of a real-time feel to it.
SportDOG TEK Anatomy
There are three parts to the TEK: the handheld, the GPS collar, and the e-collar. All are independent from one another. The transmitter speaks to the e-collar, and the GPS speaks back to the handheld as a receiver.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the overall size of the system. You get a single handheld remote with a single collar (with or without the e-collar part). The Tek GPS and remote collar are independent receivers docked together on one collar strap.
SportDOG TEK Collar
Both the GPS and the Ecollar have a whip antenna. The GPS Collar Strap is made of durable rubber. The wires that connect the GPS antenna to the electronics are embedded in the rubber for protection. If you need to make it smaller depending on the size of your dogs, you can cut it very easily along the grooves designed into the strap.
- Tracking Collar only with strap and antenna weighs 8 oz.
- E-collar / Tracking Collar with strap and antennas weighs 12 oz.
SportDOG TEK Handheld Remote / Transceiver
The handheld has three buttons on the left side and two buttons on the right.
2 RIGHT Side Buttons
MENU Button -- The top right button is your menu button. You press it, it takes you into the main menu screen where you make all your selections.
TOGGLE Button: Dog Training or Dog Tracking -- The bottom right button switches between the tracking and the training screens. If you press it, it takes you to tracking, and if you press it again and it takes you to the Dog Training screen for the individual dogs.
3 LEFT Side Buttons
The function of the left three buttons varies depending on what screen you're on. If you are in the tracking screen and you have three dogs in the system, then the top button is Dog 1, the middle button is Dog 2, and the bottom button is Dog 3 (if you have allowed stimulation from the tracking screen).
SportDOG TEK E-Collar Features
The Tek series ecollar might just be the most amazing training collar I have ever used. It takes an amazing number of options and puts them into an easy to understand and user friendly combination.
Some of the features include:
Stim Levels 1 - 99 (user selectable # of levels)
Preset 1 - Preset 2
Multiple Stim ranges for each dog
PROFILES: Running Multiple Dogs with Different Settings
Right now, the TEK comes out of the box set up in a Continuous stimulation mode with Tone and Vibration. The beauty of this system is that you can make a custom set up for each dog using the Profile Builder called "My Dogs." When I first started working with the TEK, this might have been the most confusing part for me. Once it was explained to me and I got a chance to work with it, it's something that shows the cool factor in this new GPS e-collar tool.
With profiles you can have an independent setup for every single dog that you have, no matter how many collars you have. PROFILES is a really neat feature that we've never had before, and you can get very fine-tuned with each dog. And you can have different settings for each profile with different stimulation levels, tone, vibration, etc.
Choosing the Right Stimulation Set Up for your TEK Remote Dog Training System
With Dog profiles you can have an independent setup for every single dog that you have, no matter how many collars you have.
The SportDOG Tek remote training and tracking system allows you the option of creating a dog profile for each dog that you have. This will come in real handy if you are like me and have more dogs than collars.
I have never used the "dog name" feature on the Garmin Astro, because I have 4 DC 40 collars but I run between 8 and 10 dogs. There was no value in naming an individual collar since it was never on the same dog. With the Tek system you can set up each dog's name and stimulation profile no matter how many collars you have. When you get ready to switch out dogs, you assign the new dog to your collar and the profile for that dog is now in your handheld.
Dog PROFILES is a really neat feature that we've never had before on any system. The beauty of it is that you can get very fine-tuned with each dog.
Tek differentiates between DOGS and COLLARS. You may only have a two collar system, but you run 4 dogs. With Dog profiles, you set up each dog independently. When you get ready to run two dogs together, you assign them each a COLLAR color and go hunt. Once you are done with that round and you want to run the next two dogs, you go into the "My Dogs" menu and assign your two collars to the next set of dogs. This way you always have the right stimulation set up for each dog.
The main setting that is universal for all of your dogs is the number of Stimulation levels. Your SportDOG TEK systems comes set up in a 20 level mode. You can lower this level if you want less choices or you can increase it up to 99 if you want more.
The important thing to understand in picking the stimulation level is that the highest setting is always the same. What this means is that if you system is set at 20, then a 20 will be the same stimulation as a 99 if your system is set on 99 levels. When you select the stim level, you are not raising or lowering the overall stimulation of the system. What you are doing is setting the number of levels in between the levels.
If you are looking for a smooth gradual increase between stim levels, then go with more levels (up to 99). If you are looking for something a little less subtle, then go with less levels (I would suggest 10 as a minimum).
It is going to require a little experimentation for some folks to get what they want. I have worked with multiple set ups between 20 and 75. Right now my system is set at 99. I'll explain why in a bit.
Keep in mind that this is a Universal setting. All of your dogs will have the same number of levels available to use when you set their profile.
You can work around this a bit if you have dogs with very different stimulation requirements by selecting a different "Stim Range" for your dogs.
The Tek Ecollar comes with three stimulation range intensity choices: Low, Medium and High. This intensity range level is independent of the universal stimulation levels and allows you the option of fine tuning the stimulation based on the sensitivity (or lack there of) of each of your dogs.
This option is designed where you can use the same level number on different dogs but the intensity of that level will be different based on the Stimulation Range setting of the collar. For example, a 20 on a low stim collar will be less than a 20 on a Medium Stim Collar. A High Stim 20 will be substantially higher than a low or medium 20.
The Tek E-collars will come automatically set in the Medium Stim Mode. You can change the Stim Range setting in the individual dog profile.
I recommend that most dogs start out in the Medium mode. If you find that you are having a hard time finding a level that is low enough for your sensitive dog, them try out the LOW stim range. If you dog is blowing you off on the medium settings, then try out the HIGH stim range.
After you have picked your number of Universal stimulation levels and the individual Stim Range for each dog, then you can pick the individual stimulation settings for each dog.
Picking the Right Stimulation Setup for Each Dog
The Stim buttons section allows you the option of setting the 3 left side stimulation buttons in the order that you prefer. The system will automatically come out of the box set as Side Button 1 - Continuous, Side Button 2 - Tone and Side Button 3 - Vibration.
You can leave it set this way or pick between three different kinds of Electrical Stimulation - Continuous, Momentary and Rising. You also have two non-stimulation options: Tone and Vibration.
C -- Continuous Stimulation -- Continuous stimulation stays on as long as you hold down the button. It has an automatic safety cut off at 10 seconds. If you time out the stimulation, simply release the button and press it again.
M -- Momentary Stimulation -- Momentary Stimulation is a quick preset nick of stimulation. Momentary only lasts a fraction of a second no matter how long you hold down the button.
R -- Rising Stimulation -- Rising Stimulation starts out at a low level and increases as long as you hold the button down. Rising Stimulation will start out at the base level you have your transmitter set on and increase until you release the button. Rising stim also has an automatic safety cut off after 10 seconds.
T -- Tone -- Tone is a quiet beeping sound at the collar. It can be used as a warning tone or to teach silent commands.
V -- Vibration -- Vibration is like a pager. The dog will feel the vibration at the collar and it can be used as a warning or to teach silent commands.
You also have two Preset Level options. This allows you to set a button to a set level of continuous stimulation. Preset buttons are good for folks that want to be able to quickly jump to a different level. A good example would be setting a "hot" button for a dog that likes to chase off game.
P1 -- Preset 1 -- The Preset button option allows you to set the button on any stimulation level that you want. Preset buttons use continuous stimulation.
P2 -- Preset 2 -- Just like P1, P2 allows you a second button that you can preset the level for continuous stimulation.
You have three button selections per dog. This means you can combine any of the three choices together. If you want continuous, momentary and tone, you can set it that way. If you want continuous, tone and vibration, or Rising stim and two continuous preset levels, that works also.
What's really cool is that you can make different choices for each dog. You can having continuous on dog 1, momentary on dog 2 and vibration on dog 3. The number of combinations is pretty wild.
Example Profile Setups so you can See Some of the Options
Setting Up DOG 1:
(C) The top button is continuous. That stimulation level can be changed as needed from the training screen using the up and down arrow key on the face of the transmitter.
Image: Dog Screen
We want Dog 1 to have Continuous Stim, Vibration, and a Preset Level of Continuous Stimulation.|
When you are working a dog from the training screen there are three buttons on the left side, and those are the three buttons that we've numbered here:
STIM BUTTONS -- DOG 1
- Top Button: (C): Continuous STIM
- Middle Button: (V): Vibration
- Bottom Button: (P1): Preset 24
(V) Your middle button is set for vibration. You can use it as a warning or teach him a silent recall command.
(P1) Your bottom button is going to be a preset level of Continuous Stimulation. For this particular dog, we've got that preset on 24. Depending on your dog's sensitivity, that could be a preset that is a hot button. It could be a preset that is just a gradual increase. It could be a preset that's lower than what you have your Top Button continuous set.
There are a couple of different ways to approach Preset stimulation in this set up. You can use it as your normal correction level. You can then use your Top Button as your increase. If you dog normally responds on a 24, but you want to have a stronger level set for distractions, set your Top button on 35. Use the P1 (set at 24) for normal corrections. If you need more, use your top button Continuous set at 35. If you need more stimulation, you can increase the level of your top button (currently set at 35) by using the up and down arrow key.
Setting Up DOG 2:
(M) Our top button is momentary. Just like continuous stim, the level of your momentary stimulation is set using the up and down arrow key on the transmitter from the training screen. Momentary is stimulation that is only a fraction of a second no matter how long you hold down the button.
Image: Dog Screen
Dog 2 is a little different. He's been trained on Tone instead of Vibration, and we like using Momentary with him, but we also want a preset level of Continuous Stimulation.|
STIM BUTTONS -- DOG 2
- Top Button: (M): Momentary STIM
- Middle Button: (T): Tone
- Bottom Button: (P1): Preset 25
(T) This dog was trained using tone instead of vibration, so we're going to set our middle button on tone. Tone is a quiet beeping sound that can only be heard when you are close to the dog collar.
(P1) The bottom button is going to be preset. This dog requires a little more stimulation dog than our first dog so we're going to put his preset at 25.
Setting Up DOG 3:
(R) He loves to chase "off game" and I want to be able to stop him fast. Using rising stimulation allows me to increase the stimulation level without having to change any settings. Rising stim starts out at the level you have selected on the training screen (let's say 10) and goes all the way to the top (99) as long as you hold down the button. Rising stim will stop and reset back to your main number once you release the button. I love this option for running multiple dogs. I can give them a quick correction by pressing and releasing the Rising button or I can hold it down if they need more.
Image: Dog Screen
Dog 3 is a little bit of a chaser so we will need a slightly different approach with him. He requires a slightly stronger level than my other dogs so I have changed his STIM RANGE from Medium to High. We're going to set his top button Rising Stimulation. We have trained him on Vibration, so we'll set his middle button for Vibration. And we're going to have Continuous on the bottom button.|
STIM BUTTONS -- DOG 3
- Top Button: (R): Rising STIM
- Middle Button: (V): Vibration
- Bottom Button: (C): Continuous STIM
(V) Middle button is vibration.
(C) Having the lower button on regular continuous allows me the option of making a "normal" correction set on a known level for this particular dog.
Setting Up DOG 4:
(C) The top button's going to be continuous.
Image: Dog Screen
Dog 4 is going to be set up as Continuous Stim only and we're going to give him two presets. He has not been trained on any sort of Tone or Vibration, so we don't need either for this dog.|
STIM BUTTONS -- DOG 4
- Top Button: (C): Continuous STIM
- Middle Button: (P1): Preset 15
- Bottom Button: (P2): Preset 25
(P1) Middle button is going to be a preset on a 15.
(P2) Bottom button is going to be a preset on a 25.
Using the keypad, I can raise or lower the Continuous Stim as needed and use the preset levels when needed.
Will most folks go this far to have completely different set ups on each dog? I doubt it. What I do expect to see is different levels set per dog. The biggest advantage of this ecollar set up is that you can get really specific on the needs of you dog and the different levels needed when running dogs together.
The combinations are unlimited.
Access Multiple Dogs from the Tracking Screen
One of the really cool things on the TEK is that you access multiple dogs from the tracking screen. If you want to be able to correct multiple dogs from the same screen you can. What's better is that you can have different levels for each dog without having to make any changes. Each dog can have a completely different level at the same time.
When running up to three dogs at the same time from the tracking screen, the left three buttons correspond with the "top" stim button setting for each dog. This way you can run a true multi dog set up with one button per dog, but each stimulation level is independent and can be set for the exact needs of that particular dog.
If I need more fine-tuning, then all I have to do is press my bottom right button, which takes me back into the dog screen, and then I select which dog I want to work. All three buttons now are focused on that one dog.
The most important habit to establish if you plan to make correction from the Tracking screen is that you need to always BE in the tracking screen. If you need to switch over to the Dog Training screen to make an adjustment or you want to use all three buttons on your particular dog, you MUST go back to the tracking screen when you are finished with that particular dog.
This way you always know which buttons go with which dog.
Corrections from the Tracking Screen
Making an ecollar correction from the tracking screen was a feature that I was originally against. My concern was that people would get confused and wouldn't be able to correct the right dog. I just saw it as an opportunity for something to get screwed up.
I have had to take all that back. The handheld has three buttons on the left side and two buttons on the right. The top right button is your menu button. When you press it, it takes you into the main menu screen, and from there you make all your selections. The bottom right button takes you back to the tracking or the training screens. And if you press it, it takes you to tracking. Press it again, and it takes you to the the ecollar screens for the individual dogs. From that training screen, you use the arrow keys to go back and forth between each dog.
What the left three buttons do depends on what screen you're in. If you've allowed stimulation from the tracking screen and you have three dogs, then the top button is Dog 1, the middle button is Dog 2, and the bottom button is Dog 3.
Not interested in having stimulation from the tracking screen? Simply cut it off in the menu.
Stimulation from the tracking screen is the default.
Now you have Dog 1, Dog 2, and Dog 3, and you can stim them from the tracking screen.
What I like about this setup is that it gives me the option of being able to correct each dog without having to change the screen.
If I have only one dog, it's not as big of a deal. But if I'm running multiple dogs, being able to make corrections without changing the screen at all is huge.
How It Works
Corrections from the tracking screen use the STIM setting assigned to BUTTON 1, no matter how many dogs you run. When you set up your dog's profile choose the STIM type you want to use while tracking for BUTTON 1.
All my dogs have BUTTON 1 STIM set to rising stimulation, which gives me the ability to STIM and to increase level by simply holding the button down from the TRACKING SCREEN.
For example, when a dog starts chasing a deer or won't pay attention to me, I can stim him and increase that stimulation without having to change screens. If I need more fine-tuning, then all I have to do is jump to the DOG SCREEN. I press my bottom right button and select the dog. All three left buttons are now focused on that one dog. Once finished, I press the bottom right button to return to the TRACKING SCREEN.
The STIM from the TRACKING SCREEN feature means you can make corrections with multiple dogs at different stimulation levels without having to fumble with the transmitter.
The TEK has a great combination of features for an ecollar. It's customizable, it's fast and easy to use, and it's versatile enough to fit any training scenario.
Why I Use Rising StimulationRight now my 3 left TEK buttons are set to RISING stimulation which is good for two reasons: First, it gives me the ability to instantly make a quick initial correction which is really important for both training and problem solving. If that qucik STIM is not enough, I can make a stronger increasing correction simply by holding the button down. As I hold the button down, the stim levels will increase until I have the dog's full attention.
For example, say I've got a dog that starts chasing a deer or a car, or if I've got a dog that won't pay attention to me, I'm able to increase that stimulation INSTANTLY -- I don't have to look down or change screens which is handy when you're working / training in the field.
If I need more fine-tuning, then all I have to do is press my bottom right button, which jumps back into the dog screen, and select which dog I want to work with, and all three buttons now are focused on that one dog.
If I just need to make a subtle correction or if I need to stop a chase, I've got all three buttons for all three dogs at my disposal. I don't have to change the screen. If I'm set up in rising, I don't have to do anything to get that increase. I just hold that button down and it's going to go up through my levels.
So that makes it fast. It's really important when you make a correction with a dog that you get to it fast. And in a digital setup with some sort of LCD-type screen, it's hard to make changes quickly. This e-collar has that option. You can correct multiple dogs at different stimulation levels, and you can do it quickly without having to look at the transmitter and make any sort of level changes.
SportDOG TEK Tracking Collar Features
SportDOG TEK Dog-Tracking Screen
The SportDOG TEK tracking screen shows your dog, the direction he's moving, dog status (pointing or treed) and distance from you, and battery life.
The icon for the dog is an arrow. The arrow is pointing in the direction that the dog is moving. A cross-hair in the lower middle section of the screen marks your location. At the bottom of the screen is a listing of all the dogs. Next to the dog's name, you can see its distance from you, your collar's battery life, and the stimulation settings (if you allow stimulation from the tracking screen).
The TEK doesn't show any kind of trail or history of where the dog has been. You can see the direction that the dog's moving in, and you can see when he changes directions based on the direction of the arrow.
"Dog 1 is to my left moving away from me at 16 yards."
"Dog 2 is on point 53 yards behind me."
"Dog 3 is on point 73 yards in front of me."
Having a screen that shows only the dogs and the direction that they're moving without a trail is very clean. Because the TEK has only one screen, I've also found it to be much quicker as far as looking at the screen and knowing exactly where your dog is and which direction he's moving.
SportDOG TEK's Auto screen rocks!
One of my favorite features on the SportDOG TEK tracking screen is the Auto mode. When you put your screen into Auto mode, it keeps up with the location of all your dogs and automatically adjusts the scale so that you can see every dog, no matter how far away from you.
So if you have got a close dog, a medium dog, and a far dog, the screen will expand automatically so that you can see all three dogs. If you want to hone in on just one dog or if you want to control the display yourself, you can. The Auto feature just gives you everybody in one shot.
I like it. I like it a lot.
I can tell you where a dog is faster because I don't have to wait for the icon to move on the screen and then follow the track. It's faster as far as knowing where he is.
I miss having the history because if I wasn't watching the screen I can't tell where the dog was, but with the TEK I can find where the dog is so much faster than with the ASTRO.
The SportDOG TEK collar and handheld use Lithium Ion Rechargeable Batteries. The GPS collar and the ecollar each have a separate battery.
A typical lifespan on these type of batteries is between 3 to 5 years. When they wear out, you will need to send the unit back to the factory for SportDOG to replace them.
I find that the more often you use these batteries, the longer they'll last. You should charge your system every few months when it's not in use to extend the life of your batteries.
Handheld Battery Life
The TEK handheld is rechargeable and gets around 20 hours of run time off a single charge. The handheld battery life is very much based on how often you press buttons and whether or not you use the backlight screen.
The TEK handheld has timeout options for the backlight from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. You also have the option of leaving the backlight on all the time.
The TEK has an auto-shut-off feature that activates after a button hasn't been pressed with 1-hour, 2-hour, or a 3-hour options. This is great if you're like me and forget to cut it off!
The downside of the TEK handheld being rechargeable is that it can run out of power in the field, and you'll have no way to track your dog.
The TEK has a three-pronged wall charger that is plugs directly into each unit. From one wall unit, you can charge a handheld, the GPS part, and the ecollar part. Because the ecollar and the GPS are separate from each other, they have separate batteries that require separate charging. It takes about 2 hours to get a full charge. Once the collars are fully charged the lights will flash.
Get a Car Charger!
I strongly recommend that anyone using a TEK system have a power inverter and carry their wall charger in their vehicle to avoid this issue, especially when you're trying to locate a lost dog. You can track with the TEK handheld while it's plugged into the charger. The TEK car charger will charge your handheld batteries while in use.
Ecollar Battery Life (30 Hours)
The SportDOG TEK ecollar module runs off of a separate battery, and use of the ecollar doesn't affect battery life of the tracking collar. A full charge gets around 30 hours of run time.
Tracking collar battery life (25 hours)
Fully charged tracking collars have around a 25 hour run time off a single charge.
UPDATE RATE is how often the GPS collar communicates with the handheld. The faster the update rate, the more current the information the handheld displays about where your dog is, what direction he's moving in, and if he's found game or not.
Update Rate is also the single largest factor affecting battery life. The TEK collar has a 2.5-second update rate for the first 10 hours, and slows to a longer update rate as the battery becomes depleted.
The SportDOG TEK collar combines a faster update rate with a slightly longer battery life. As the battery life gets lower, the TEK collar automatically slows the update rate to conserve battery life.
The TEK starts out with a 2.5 second update rate for the first 10 hours, drops to a 10-second update rate for the next 5 hours, then continues at a 20 second update rate until you recharge the battery.
The advantage of the TEK collar is that while you're hunting (the first 10 hours of the battery), you have the fastest possible update rate -- 2.5 seconds. After 10 hours, the collar slows the update rate to stretch out the battery life. The unit assumes that after you've passed the 10 to 15-hour mark, you're no longer hunting and are looking for a lost dog.
The downside of this TEK feature is that you don't have control over the update rate. While most folks don't want slower updates, they do want longer battery life.
SportDOG's done a really nice job of balancing the two features that people want the most: fast update rate and long battery life. You get fast update rates while hunting, but if you lose a dog you get the longest battery life possible by gradually slowing the update rate.
First 10 hours
Next 5 hours
Next 10 hours
Total battery runtime
The TEK handheld has some GPS applications but is very limited when compared to the Garmin Astro.
A waypoint is a GPS coordinate of a marked location, so you can find your truck, where you found birds, your tree stand or any physical location. The TEK handheld can mark up to 20 waypoint locations. Once you reach 20, you must remove one of the old ones to add a new one.
The starting point is temporary marker (like a waypoint), except you can only have one. When you begin a new hunt, you have the option of marking a starting point, or keeping the existing one. Marking a new starting point will clear the previous one.
Just like the GARMIN ASTRO, the TEK system uses the MURS (Multi Use Radio Service) frequency band.
Both the Astro and the TEK series claim 7 miles range in flat open terrain. I have never seen either system actually get that in any situation with any antenna set up.
My experience using both systems in real world conditions with standard and long range antennas is a tracking range from 1.5 - 3.5 miles.
Because the TEK has a faster update rate than the ASTRO, you will notice the TEK losing a signal before the ASTRO does, even if they lose signal at the same time. This becomes much more obvious when tracking from a moving vehicle.
Price and Warranties
You're close to making a decision, but you may want to consider a couple more details: price and warranty. Of course, you want everything, but you don't want to pay an arm and a leg for these features. And you want a warranty you can count on.
Here are the costs today:
Cost of Unit
Cost for additional collar
TEK handheld with tracking only
TEK handheld with tracking and training
Both systems are covered under Gun Dog Supply's 30-day money-back guarantee. I expect you to use the system in the field on your dogs. What's nice about both these systems is that you will know pretty fast whether it's right for you or not.
If you have any issues after the first 30 days that we can't resolve, we bring in the manufacturers for help.
The SportDOG TEK comes with a two-year manufacturer's warranty.
Guide to Icons
| ||TIME INDICATOR: Displays the current localtime. |
| ||BRIGHTNESS INDICATOR: Displays the current brightness level. |
| ||BATTERY GAUGE: Displays the battery charge status of the Handheld Device. |
| ||BATTERY GAUGE: Displays the battery charge status of the GPS Collar. |
| ||UP/DOWN INDICATORS: Indicates menu choices available. Use the arrow keys to view additional menu items. |
| ||MORE/SELECT INDICATOR: Indicates more information is available. Use the arrow keys to view additional information. |
| ||BACK INDICATOR: Indicates lower menu level. Press the BACK button to return to the previous screen. |
| ||TEXT ENTER/ACCEPT: Select to lock in a new text entry. |
| ||GPS LOCK INDICATOR: Indicates the Handheld Device has a good satellite fix. |
| ||COMPASS NEEDLE: Displays compass heading to magnetic north. |
| ||DOG DIRECTION INDICATOR: Displays the direction your dog is traveling. |
| ||DOG DIRECTION INDICATOR COMMUNICATION LOST: Displays if communication to the collar is lost. |
| ||DOG STATUS INDICATOR: Indicates the location of your dog when the dog is either on point or treed. |
| ||SCALE INDICATOR: Shows the current scale. Scale is adjustable from 100 yards to 75 miles. |
| ||MY DOG: Indicates the current dog. color is based on the assigned collar to this dog.|
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