Review: Zomm 'Wireless Leash' for Mobile Phones

Last Updated Jun 11, 2010 11:49 AM EDT

Back in January we expressed our gadget lust for the Zomm, a combination Bluetooth speakerphone, "wireless leash," and panic button. Now that we've had a chance to try one firsthand, is there still lust in our hearts -- or Zomm-thing less?

About the size of a small stack of poker chips and weighing barely a quarter of an ounce, the Zomm can ride easily and unobtrusively on a keychain.

After pairing with your cell phone, it sounds an alarm -- first vibrating, then flashing, and finally beeping loudly -- whenever it loses the Bluetooth link (usually at around 30 feet).


To put it in more real-world terms, the Zomm keeps you from forgetting your phone at home, the office, or anywhere else you might leave it lying around. You can't get a dozen yards away before feeling, seeing, and/or hearing a reminder.

The flipside, of course, is that unless your keys go everywhere you and your phone go, you'll get potentially unwanted alarms. That's not a dealbreaker -- one press of the Zomm's single function button cancels an alarm -- but it could prove annoying.

Another big draw is call notification: the Zomm vibrates, flashes, and beeps whenever a call comes in. That's awesome for someone like me, who often misses calls because he couldn't feel or hear his iPhone ringing in his pocket.

I have mixed feelings about the Zomm's speakerphone capabilities, which are about on par with those of my iPhone. The real benefit is being able to answer a call just by pushing a button, instead of having to fish around a pocket or purse to grab your phone. And another push transfers the call to your handset; very convenient.

The Zomm also has two personal-safety features: a panic alarm and an automated call for help. The latter dials 911 and even plays an emergency message if you don't say anything.

The only problem with these features, and a few of the others, is remembering how to access them. Because the Zomm has just one control -- its big 'Z' button -- you have to learn and remember when to push it, how many times, when you're supposed to hold it down, and even when you're supposed to release it. It's confusing.

For example, to use the emergency-call feature, you have to hold the button until the panic alarm starts, then keep holding it until it stops. That's as opposed to just using the panic alarm, in which case you release the button after the alarm starts. In an actual emergency, would you be able to remember all that?

I think the Zomm is a slick little device that's sure to help forgetful types stop forgetting their phones. I think it's a little steep at $79.99, but that's probably less than you'd end up paying to replace a lost phone.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.