Accessory review: Samsung TecTiles NFC tags

Samsung TecTiles01 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

One of the features I was pretty excited about when I got my Samsung Galaxy Note II was NFC. I knew that there was a lot I could do with NFC, and I finally had a phone that was capable of it. (If you need some more basic information on NFC, check out my last post).

I started doing some searching on Google, shopping for NFC tags. There were a few different companies selling them, and I came across the Samsung TecTiles. Best Buy was selling them on their website with free shipping. I had a random Best Buy gift card left from over a year ago that had somewhere around $17 on it, and saw that would be more than enough for me to pick up the TecTiles.

The TecTiles come in a five pack and Best Buy sells them for $12.98. However, they are currently sold out online and their website lists them as unavailable in the store. This isn’t really a bad thing, because even though the tags work great, I wouldn’t recommend buying them – but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Samsung TecTiles02 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag hereThe TecTiles are a simple one inch by one inch square sticker with the electronic goodies on the back. They say Samsung TecTiles and have the TecTiles logo on the front of the white sticker. I personally would prefer that the stickers just be plain colored, but the logo doesn’t take away from the functionality of the tags.

The TecTiles are sold in a small flat package that includes a set of simple instructions and the actual tags. The tags themselves come in a small blue cover with a warning on the front to remove the tags from the cover before using them. The reason for this is that these tags will not work on metal. The blue cover is made out of something that protects the tags from being programmed in the package before you buy them. Theoretically, if they weren’t protected in the blue cover, someone could have programmed them before you bought them to do something malicious to your phone. The blue cover is a nice security measure to ensure that doesn’t happen.

At $13 for five tags, each tag comes out to $2.60. This means that you are mostly paying for the Samsung name, and that’s why I wouldn’t recommend buying them yourself and also why I only gave them two and a half stars. The TecTiles are the first listing when doing a shopping search for NFC tags, but the third listing is a 15-pack of various stickers that you can get shipped for under $20. That comes out to be 50% cheaper than the TecTiles, plus you wouldn’t have to see the TecTiles logo everywhere you put one because they come in plain gray.

The TecTiles need an app to program them, and of course Samsung has a companion app that will do just that, called Samsung TecTiles. I downloaded the app after getting my tags, and shortly after trying to program my first tag I went searching for a third party app. While the app will program the tags, it doesn’t have nearly the options available as some of the other readily available apps do. The first thing I tried to program was a profile to set my ringer volume to three and my notification volume to zero. The app didn’t have the option to set the notification volume separate  from the ringer volume. I immediately dropped that app and found one that would do what I wanted it to do, NFC Task Launcher.

In the end, these tags do exactly what they are advertised to do, but cost a lot more than most of the other tags available on the market right now. If you have a spare gift card lying around like I did, feel free to pick a set of these up, otherwise steer clear of them.

[Samsung TecTiles | Best Buy]
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Bryan Faulkner

Bryan Faulkner is a former associate editor at Pocketables. He loves to find new ways to use his tablets while working as the Tech Director at his local church. Mixing sound from the iPad is his newest obsession. He currently has a pair of HP TouchPads, an iPad 2, a decommissioned HTC EVO 4G, and a Samsung Galaxy Note II to tinker with.

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