At a glance: Escort's Entourage Portable Security system is strong enough to keep track of cars, but it fits — albeit with a bit of a bulge — in your pocket. It's about the size of small cordless handset, and it uses Blackline's GPS network for tracking and positioning.
The most attractive feature of the Entourage PS is its ability to let you know if whatever you're tracking — a car or a backpack, say — isn't where it's supposed to be. Once you get an email or text alert, it's a cinch to start tracking the unit in real-time. It's like having Big Brother in your pocket, but this time you're calling the shots.
Click Continue to read our in-depth impressions.
Using the Entourage PS is pretty straight forward. The unit itself only has two buttons: one to turn it on, and another to arm the device. Other than that, there's a jack for power, but that's it. You'll get into the meat of the Entourage PS's features by way of Blackline's website and, as you'll see down below, through a remote control scheme.
The Entourage PS's security features comes primarily in two flavors. Motion alerts let you know when the unit is being disturbed, and can be an early warning that something is up. Perimeter breaches are the unit's serious strength, though, and that's how you'll know when whatever you're tracking isn't where you want it to be.
For example, I armed the Entourage PS before walking down to my local deli. Once armed, if the unit ever travels 300 meters (985 feet) from that spot, you'll get a text or an email, depending on how you set it up. I went for the text, and sure enough I got one by the time I reached the deli.
By default, the Entourage PS checks in periodically, and you can set the interval yours pings the network (anywhere from every ten minutes to once a day). Once you know there's a problem, you can begin tracking your device in real-time, which will leave you a breadcrumb every few seconds. Check out the image below to see how that looks.
Control by Remote
From Blackline's website you can do everything you need to, from simple tasks such as locating the unit to arming and scheduling its security features. All of the buttons and drop-down menus are plainly presented in such a way that even a newcomer to the world of GPS security would be able to set up alarms and alerts with just a little poking around. What's more, a glance at your profile tells you everything you need to know: how much battery life your Entourage PS has left, if it's armed, signal strength, how many satellites it's currently being tracked by, and — if it's in motion — which direction it's heading and how fast.
Besides the website, you can also control the unit by way of any browser-enabled smartphone, such as a Blackberry. This mobile avenue offers all the same functionality, but with a lot more flexibility. Expanded uses become apparent, too — it wouldn't be a stretch to use the Entourage to find where you parked, since it's accurate enough.
Strength in Numbers
You can keep track of several Escort trackers at once through the Blackline website. It's easy enough to just have one and put it where you need it, but if you have more it's as simple as selecting which device you want to keep tabs on. Also, if you know anyone else with an Escort tracker, you can become friends on the Blackline website and even share security permissions.
As a twist, Entourage PS units can also give you alerts based on their proximity to one another. Clark Swanson, president and CEO of Blackline, told us about how a mother once used two Entourage units to figure out when her kid would be at the neighborhood's bus stop. Since she knew how many miles away it was, she could have a notification sent to her phone when both of her units were a certain distance apart from one another. It may not be the most common use for the Entourage PS, but it certainly demonstrates its versatility.
Now that you've read all that, chances are you know whether or not Escort's Entourage PS is right for you. It comes with the hardware to install it in your vehicle, but, really, its uses extend beyond that. You can keep it in your bag or purse, for instance, or even your kid's backpack.
The unit itself costs $350, with variable subscription plans through Blackline that start at $20 a month (or you can sign up for a year for $180).