ActiveKEY frustration

Real Estate Agent

A few months ago, my trusty old TREO died and and I knew it was time to step into some new technology.  I'd had my (eye) on and iPhone for some time, but was hesitant due to the fact that I used my TREO to open the GE SUPRA MLS lockboxes here in Austin.  The GE Supra lockboxes use infrared technology to open the boxes to obtain the key to show property.  As a Realtor, it's pretty hard to show houses when you can't get the key to open the door, so needless to say, this is a pretty important piece of technology.  

So, when the TREO died and I went to get a new phone, guess what?  Very few phones are being made/sold today that have an IRDA (infrared) port.  iPhone? Nope.  Blackberry? Nope.  Infrared is a dead technology. But thanks to GE and decisions by the powers that be with the Austin Board of Realtors (ABOR), we're stuck with it for now.

Bluetooth has made infrared obsolete.  

After thinking about what kind of functionality I wanted in my phone, an iPhone was definitely going to be my choice.  Only one problem, no infrared and no way to use the phone to open lockboxes.  Arggggghhhh!  So, I'm going to have to lug around yet another piece of hardware to do my job.  

Enter the ActiveKEY.  This goofy looking piece of equipment reminds me of a Fisher-Price fake cell phone.  Seriously.  Look at the photos.  I think GE must have engineers and designers that couldn't find a job anywhere else.  They have the nerve to charge me $180 bucks a year to use this piece of junk. (at least that is what ABOR charges).  

So I am stuck using this ActiveKEY and I found one redeeming feature about it that made it tolerable.  I could turn off the "radio" (the key uses the cell networks to update) to put the key into a deep sleep mode and the battery would last for weeks, so I could throw it in the console in my car and forget about it.  With the radio off, the charge on the battery would last for weeks.

That changed 2 days ago when they "upgraded" the firmware in my ActiveKEY and removed the ability for me to turn off the radio.  So now that the firmware is "upgraded" the ActiveKEY radio stays ON for 12 hours a day, constantly pinging the cell phone network.  This causes several problems, 1. I now have to bring the key in from the car (or purchase one of their overpriced car charger adapter$$ ) 2. Keep it plugged in which wastes energy. 3. Every time the stupid key pings the cell network, it makes my electronics freak out.  Way to go GE!  4. I'll probably forget the stupid key on the way to show property because it's no longer in my console.  

I'm still upset that they have no solution for iPhone users to utilize a fob the way Blackberry users can.  You would think with the number of iPhone users, this would be a top priority for GE, but they were probably using those resources on the ActiveKEY.

The real solution is to get off the ancient technology of infrared and move on to the 21st century.  Infrared is dead.  In the mean time, GE- Give me back the ability to turn off the radio on the ActiveKEY!

Maxwell McDaniel

Austin A Plus Homes

Search for homes for sale in austin at:

Comments (8)

Mike Sparks
The House Company Galveston Texas - Galveston, TX
Galveston Island Real Estate

Ha,, I laughed at the reference to the Fisher Price phone, exactly what I thought when I was forced to use this piece of junk.

Mar 04, 2010 01:53 PM
Mike Elliott
Austin, TX

I seriously hope that there is someone at GE with an alert set up to monitor posts about their products.  Thanks for the comment!  Maybe someday we'll get some tech relief :)

Mar 04, 2010 02:11 PM
Have you checked out the fees for using th old school ge active keys? $250 a year for a bunch of wasted signals so it can beep at me every time someone shows one of my listings. Plus the cost of purchasing the ekey. Plus activation fees. Plus fees for the extra frills. Plus $100 to RENT a single keybox and I have a bunch of listings. I know all these fees won't change with an iPhone ekey app but my point is that GE is making a lot of money with the system that is in place and we don't have an easy way of changing that system. What can we do? Get all the realtors to pay a bunch of money to take a huge gamble on a new system. GE isn't likely to rush out an iPhone option because realtors have to use their ekey. GE responds to dollars not sense.
Mar 04, 2010 02:44 PM
Ps the note above was posted with my iPhone.
Mar 04, 2010 02:52 PM
Mike Harrison

I am frustrated too. Turning the radio off was one of the secrets to keeping the battery active for an extended period of time. Now I have a couple of days at most. I have sent emails and called the tech dept to put that feature back on. What a JOKE!

Mar 24, 2010 01:14 PM
Mike Harrison

Here is the email address to GE for the ActiveKey

Email them to complain! They wont change anything if they don't hear back from us. 

Mar 24, 2010 01:24 PM

I truly despise GE for removing the radio OFF option. I am betting they wanted to save themselves a few bucks in tech support fees for this outrageously priced system which was obsolete from the first day it was released.

Not only does the thing not even last two days because of its continuous pinging of the cell network (compare this to WEEKS of battery for the OLD SUPRA KEY!!!) but it causes all speakers in my home within a 20 foot radio to emit a POP sound once per second.


Jul 05, 2010 01:59 PM

iPhone app and attachment now available - going to pick mine up now!

Sep 01, 2010 09:11 AM