Timeular ZEI°: A tangible solution to time-tracking troubles

Staying on top of time tracking can be difficult, but it's necessary in many modern jobs. Timeular thinks it's solved the problem with the ZEI°, a desktop gadget that turns time tracking physical.

Video: The Timeular ZEI°: A tangible way to track your workday

There are some jobs out there that can't do without precise logging of time--IT among them. It can be hard to remember to log time accurately, especially when you have to do it after the fact. If you frequently find yourself scrambling on Fridays to fix your timecard, the Timeular ZEI° was made just for you.

It's not just a business product--the ZEI° can be used by freelancers who need to record their time and by individuals who simply want to understand where exactly they spend their day.

I've been testing the ZEI° for the past few weeks, and what felt at first like a novelty product now seems like a tool that could make time tracking woes a thing of the past. If you remember to use it, that is.

What is the Timeular ZEI°?

The ZEI° looks like a giant white eight-sided gaming die and is powered by an accelerometer. Whichever side is facing up is the active one, and ZEI°'s software keeps a timer going for as long as the particular side is active.

Each side is customizable using the Timeular software that powers ZEI°. There's a sheet of stickers in the box for easy labeling, and a dry erase marker is included as well. Assigning tasks is as easy as opening the Timeular app, connecting your ZEI°, flipping it to the side you want to set, and assigning it in the ZEI° Activities page. Once you do that you're ready to start flipping to your heart's content.

SEE: Get Things Done: How to Organize Your Life & Take Action (TechRepublic Academy)

You can put a timer on your taskbar too, which is great for those who have a limit on a particular task--you can always see how long you've been working on something with that feature turned on.

Why ZEI° could be a business hit

There are a lot of jobs out there that require accurate time records, and many of them are in the tech industry. Workers with a central desk (like helpdesk employees, designers, and journalists) could all have a ZEI° that they flip as they move from task to task throughout the day.

The Timeular app has a calendar built in, and with it you can see how long you worked on a given day. From there you can drill down to specific time spent on tasks, edit entries, and add notes for easy reference--great for individuals and business users.

What really makes the ZEI° a potential business hit are its integrations: It can currently connect to Jira, Toggl, and iCal and there are plans to add a lot more integrations in the coming months. Timeular also said it has finished work on an API and plans to release it soon too.

Large businesses that want to integrate ZEI° can connect with Timeular to have it build integrations for them--if you have an IT team stretched to the limit on projects this might be a great option.

From just a couple units to a whole fleet of them, ZEI° has the potential to make time tracking simple. Physical reminders can be a great way to remember to do something, and it's easy to make the ZEI° a central part of a workspace--just put it right where it's within easy arm's reach and it's always ready to be flipped.

Why it's not perfect

ZEI° is a unique way to make time tracking simple, but that doesn't mean it's perfect. Its biggest problem stems from the fact that it's powered by a non-rechargeable battery. That in itself isn't the issue--the button battery in the ZEI° can reportedly last as long as a year--it's the limitations that come with it.

I work on a laptop, and if I leave it idle too long it goes to sleep. That means Bluetooth, which the ZEI° uses to connect to my computer, powers down as well. When that happens the ZEI° disconnects and doesn't try to reconnect--it simply powers down to save the battery.

Reconnecting the ZEI° requires powering it back up, which isn't a difficult process (just press the power button on the front of the device), but it is one that is inconvenient for a device that seems otherwise very intuitive to use.

SEE: 5 time management tips for busy data scientists (TechRepublic)

Timeular responded to this issue by saying it's working on a newer model with a stronger battery so that the ZEI° can keep trying to get a signal when the computer wakes back up.

The best possible improvement it could make would be turning the ZEI°'s dock into a wireless charging station too. If not that, then the next generation of ZEI°s should have a USB charging port.

Why you should get one

The ZEI°'s battery-related shortcomings aren't permanent, especially if Timeular manages to fix them with the next version. If having to manually power on a ZEI° when you get to the office in the morning or after lunch isn't a deal breaker then head over to Timeular's website to order a ZEI° for yourself. It's normally priced at $159 but is currently on sale for $129.

Businesses that require exact time records can benefit from ZEI°s on their employees' desks, and freelancers who control their own billing will love its ease of use and convenience for time tracking.

Gaming geeks will simply love having a giant D8 on their desks.

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