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My Spot Connect really let me down!
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Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
My Spot Connect really let me down! on 09/04/2012 00:06:02 MDT Print View

When I purchased my Spot Connect, I was aware of some of the service issues with Spot and figured I could live with "spotty service" however, my Spot Connect let me down big time!

The Spot Connect allows you compose and send custom messages on your iPhone (one way messages) which I thought might be handy.

Turns out that a knee injury forced me to abort a trip this summer and while not in any danger, I decided to use my Spot Connect to arrange transportation with my contact person. All should have been good except my message didn't go to my contact person, it went to somebody else! The Spot Connect history on my iPhone clearly shows that I sent it to the correct person but when I checked my sent messages on Spot's website, it clearly shows that the message had been sent to another contact on my list (somebody that had no idea what my message meant).

This past weekend I was out for a 3 day trip and thought I'd give it another try. I sent a message to my son and he never got it... turns out that this message went to one of the people that I was hiking with!!! GREAT!!

I emailed tech support at Spot and they seem to acknowledge a problem ("their programmers are looking into it..."), but needless to say, I have totally lost confidence in my Spot Connect and it's now a paper weight.

An InReach will be on my Christmas list this year.

Edited by skopeo on 09/04/2012 00:10:59 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: My Spot Connect really let me down! on 09/04/2012 00:30:50 MDT Print View

At least your messages didn't go to some complete stranger!


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: My Spot Connect really let me down! on 09/04/2012 00:34:10 MDT Print View

It's a cute toy. Nothing else.

Have doubts about the Inreach also.

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
It's better than nothing. on 09/04/2012 00:49:45 MDT Print View

I agree it's far from perfect. I scared my wife pretty bad on a recent 7 day solo trip. I told her I'd check in at least once a day, and I actually checked in 2 to 3 times each day. It worked most of the time, except for 48 hours where she heard nothing. She thought I was eaten by a bear.
I'm trying to find a statistical "guarantee" that it will work. Like if it fails on average 1 out of 4 times, I could check in 4 times a day.

For the computer geeks out there, I believe the messaging works more like UDP than TCP. There's no check to ensure the message got through. And given the packet loss when bouncing a message off a satellite there's bound to be failures. I hope this technology improves.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Nothing has worked on 09/04/2012 00:57:02 MDT Print View

We all did fine before these devices were available. Left a note at home on the fridge. Let someone know you are going. If you promise to keep in touch and don't it will be your fault no matter what. These just give someone something to worry about when they don't work. which is too often.
Get a PLB. Or a partner.

It's a want not a need.

Now I am married and had a Spot. Told the misses that it was unreliable, and not to count on messages getting through. She said don't use it then. Logical woman.

Yair Mazor
(HarmonicWave) - F
Re: Re: Nothing has worked on 09/04/2012 01:17:40 MDT Print View

"Now I am married and had a Spot. Told the misses that it was unreliable, and not to count on messages getting through. She said don't use it then. Logical woman."

- Indeed. I wish I could convey the same line of thought to my spouse :-)

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Dumped SPOT, got a PLB on 09/04/2012 01:42:51 MDT Print View

Some spouses can understand "Good news is good news. No news ISN'T bad news, it is just no news." SPOT causes huge problems with relatives who don't understand that concept. Used it with the predictably *spotty* coverage on a Grand Canyon rafting trip. I was as clear as possible about the above point. And several relatives (not mine!) got into panic mode.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: It's better than nothing. on 09/04/2012 03:34:38 MDT Print View

"For the computer geeks out there, I believe the messaging works more like UDP"

Met a guy (electronically) who claimed he first learned networking in college and the professor had joked that UDP is acronym for "Unreliable D*mn Protocol". The guy didn't realize it was a joke ... until sometime well into his first job as a networking engineer:-)

It ain't easy setting other folk's expectations. With some (many??) folks, checking in multiple times per day ends up elevating their expectations. (he "always" checks in morning, noon and night, why haven't I heard from him in 10 hours?)

Michael Cheifetz
(mike_hefetz) - MLife

Locale: Israel
inmarsat on 09/04/2012 05:10:23 MDT Print View

Not sure how it is in the states...but here in israel- especially if you dont hike that often where you would want a beacon - to rent and pay subscription for the SPOT was almost as expensive as renting a satellite phone (over a 3 week period)

So last trip to Turkey i went with the sat phone (had a choice of Inmarsat, Thuraya or Iridium...I went with Inmarsat)

putting the cost aside - was amazing (reminded me of the good old days in the service) the up sides as i see them:
- you KNOW when you get guesswork
- you can convey more complex messages and instructions instead of preset messages. so say i broke my leg - maybe preset message goes to my wife and she calls the israeli tour guide and the consulate in Ankara...the tour guide calls his turkish buddy who he put me in touch with while the consulate call the police in Anatalya. The turkish buddy calls his buddy in the next town while the police call the local counsel

you get the picture !

If you have a phone you can call the local dude yourself and tell him exactly what happened and where you are and that you are ok and have food etc and come take me tomorrow


Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: inmarsat on 09/04/2012 05:58:17 MDT Print View

I have an Inmarsat and it's outstanding, the initial outlay was 600$ and its between 17-27$ a month depending if you want pay as you go or a monthly plan.

I always keep it in the car when I know again am going somewhere out of cellphone coverage.

Some folk may says its expensive but it's not when when you look at what it offers.

I had spot and got rid of it to the buy the Inmarast.

Edited by stephenm on 09/04/2012 05:59:20 MDT.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
I'm lucky on 09/04/2012 08:08:09 MDT Print View

All Mrs Mags wants is

A) A plan of where I am hiking
B) A call wen I am back in town and I am done

Knowing where I am at every day (or every hour) is not something she is particularly interested in....

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
My Spot Connect really let me down! on 09/04/2012 09:22:19 MDT Print View

What bothers me most about this issue is that the problem wasn't a communication issue, the messages did get through. This is a software issue which simply means that Spot didn't do enough beta testing before pushing this product out the door. We've all seen this before (let the consumers do the beta testing) and it's what turns me off a manufacturer quicker than anything.

I also agree that the Spot is a "convenience" not a mandatory piece of equipment but I do like the idea of being able to communicate while off the grid. I still tape a note on the cupboard for my wife so that if I go missing she can tell somebody where I "might" be. My wife has never been concerned about updates on my where-abouts and just assumes I'll eventually come home. I don't even include her on my Spot notifications.

A few examples of where a Spot type of device "should" work well for me is when I'm off somewhere and not sure where or when I want to be picked up. I can tell my "ride" to expect a message from me the night before and I can specify a pickup time and location.

I am also "late" on many of my fishing outings and it's nice to let somebody know that I've decided to fish late.

On my recent weekend trip, I left on Friday and my son asked me to send him a Spot message to let him know where I had set up camp because he was thinking of joining me on Saturday. The message I sent went to somebody else and he never got the message so he couldn't join us on the trip. Once again, this wasn't a Spot communication issue, the message got through but it was sent to the wrong person (it was sent to the person I was hiking with...).

Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
Too complex on 09/04/2012 10:08:41 MDT Print View

I've always thought the Spot connect was a good idea in theory, but the thought of networking two devices in the wilderness always seemed to me to be one more thing that could go wrong.

When you're in shock, or hypothermic and can't think straight, you don't want to have to think about this stuff. Just one button to push on one intergrated device seems to the way to go here.

Or the sat phone.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
My Spot Connect really let me down! on 09/04/2012 11:15:00 MDT Print View

The Spot Connect does work stand-alone and has an SOS button built into the unit that doesn't require a cell phone. I don't always take a cell phone and have carried the device for emergency contact purposes only. I agree that you don't want it to be complicated in an emergency. You just have to flip off the safety cover and hit the SOS button and search and rescue is supposed to come. However, when paired with an iPhone you could also send the SAR team a custom message regarding your situation which is a nice feature.

On the other hand, with the experience I've had with this device in the past month (with mis-directed messages), it became an in-joke with my hiking partners that if I hit the SOS button I might get a pizza delivery :)

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
My Spot Connect really let me down! on 09/04/2012 15:07:50 MDT Print View

Nothing has really changed. We all wish that SPOT worked reliably, but it just doesn't. I am sticking with a PLB until Sat Phones become affordable for me.