SPOT vs ACR? Need some advice
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Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
SPOT on 09/15/2012 20:32:14 MDT Print View

I've posted this before but here goes again. I have the original SPOT and as AFAIK, it's only failed to get OK messages out twice. I don't send a lot of them on a trip and have not logged them but do check when I return and I've seen what I expected. Both times they didn't get through was at the TH for CT segment 4. Which is strange as the trees are not dense there. No idea why those failed. But 2 failures in 3 years isn't bad. I'll just make sure I don't need help at that TH. :)

I've tested it multiple times where I was in dense (by Colorado standards anyway) tree cover. Then I sent another message from a relatively open area nearby. They've all gone through.

I do use it to signal deviations from my planned itinerary which is very helpful. I don't want to be tied to a fixed plan so I leave a detailed itinerary and go over possible options. If I deviate from the proposed plan, I leave a series of OK messages showing the deviation.

Here's an example. I leave in the morning for a week long trip. My proposed itinerary involves some off trail travel. I've had some knee issues recently and while they feel good now, if they give me trouble, I'll stay on trail or return to the TH if they really act up. BUT, my wife is instructed that no OK messages don't mean anything. Any electrical device can fail. She's only to call for help if I don't notify her by the end of the trip. If I'm not out by the stated time but continue to send OK messages, then I'm just delayed. My help message says, I'm not in a life threatening situation, but I can't proceed and notify authorities.

I like the Inreach concept very much as you can provide a lot more information and get confirmations as well. But I think they have a lousy services plan. I want to be able to send all the OK messages I want but they limit that. They should really re-think their offering.

Edited by rlnunix on 09/15/2012 20:34:01 MDT.

Rich J
(PNWhiker) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Any changes since last year? on 05/04/2013 11:56:36 MDT Print View

Hi,

Any updates on this topic? I’ll likely use my May REI coupon on one of these.

Although the SPOT usage model matches my needs perfectly, I’m leaning heavily towards the ACR. The main issue is the horrific business policies of SPOT. I wonder if they have improved at all?

By the way, from a statistical perspective I consider them to provide equal amounts of protection. Assume that SPOT works ‘most’ of the time (i.e. the probability of it not working at any given time is small). Now, assume that the probability of needing an SOS is very, very small. Assuming these are independent (that is, there is no relationship between an emergency situation and the SPOT not working) then the probability of you needing SPOT and it not working is the two probabilities multiplied together. That will be a very, very, very small number. That is traded off with the breadcrumb feature of SPOT that gives protection for the situation where you can’t push the button when you need the help (you are unconscious, the device was damaged in the fall that incapacitated you, etc.). So, I’d SWAG that as a wash.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Re: Any changes since last year? on 05/04/2013 18:41:47 MDT Print View

SPOT is not like REI's return policy. Maybe that is what you mean by "horrific". I guess the best way to think of SPOT is that you are buying a "service" - you've already bought a chunk of hardware. The hardware can come and go but the "service" is a specific contract.

SPOT is easy to test, so if it doesn't work - pitch it in the trash and get another.

This is pretty much the reverse of PLBs where you spend your money on the hardware to use a free service.

From a cost perspective, PLBs are getting to be a better deal. There are some shortcomings of course, but you can buy a service and send an OK message. Delorme is also scrambling to release it's latest gadget - looks pretty cool. My point is that there is now some feature & price competition with SPOT which I think is healthy.

$99/yr and a $99 piece of hardware that lets you wander around and keep loved ones in the loop - seems hard to beat right now.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
SPOT vs ACR? Need some advice on 05/05/2013 00:48:32 MDT Print View

>> Although the SPOT usage model matches my needs perfectly, I’m leaning heavily towards the ACR <<

If the SPOT usage model matches your needs perfectly, why would you buy an ACR? A Spot is a messaging device and ACR a locator beacon. I state the obvious but think about it... an ACR you buy and hope you never use it. That's a poor value proposition if you look at it in terms of hours of use for the price paid. Spot on the other hand, is made to use constantly, so you are paying more for a subscription but you receive hours of enjoyment from it. To me an ACR is like my bear spray. A last chance option that I hope I never need to use.

I have a Spot and an inReach (and have pre-ordered the new inReach SE) and I see these messengers for what they are... a way to communicate to family and friends when off the grid. It's a bonus that it can also send a distress call in the very unlikely event I should need assistance... that's a big bonus!

It sounds to me that you like the idea of the Spot but have heard some bad things about them. Don't condemn all messaging devices just because one company has failed to deliver, check out the competition to get what you really want.

J R
(JRinGeorgia) - F
REI coupon? on 05/05/2013 06:22:27 MDT Print View

"I’ll likely use my May REI coupon on one of these."

Are you sure it's valid for a PLB purchase? Usually REI coupons exclude PLBs and GPSs.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Use? on 05/05/2013 07:10:28 MDT Print View

"think about it... an ACR you buy and hope you never use it.... ... Spot on the other hand, is made to use constantly,..."

With SPOT you constantly Hope it is working. With a PLB you Know it will work.

Priceless.

Edited by greg23 on 05/05/2013 07:14:18 MDT.

Rich J
(PNWhiker) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Comments on 05/05/2013 09:15:34 MDT Print View

Thanks for the comments.

> Usually REI coupons exclude PLBs and GPSs.

Yikes! I’ve never checked. That would be a bummer.

‘Horrific’ business practices was probably a poor choice of words. I have no grudge against SPOT; I’m just reacting to what I have been reading here on this forum and in the REI and Amazon reviews. First, according to the reviews, SPOT makes it overly onerous to cancel your subscription. If you call in 1 day late and cancel then you are charged for the entire year of service. That’s just plain rip-off in my book. Second are the hidden fees people complain about. It’s equivalent to, “oh, did you want wheels on that car?” People indicate that once you are done with necessary services and pre-purchase of a few messages your yearly fee is well north of $99. These kind of things show me that the basic ‘customer philosophy’ of the company is primarily adversarial. And, well, yes compare that to REI. These folks will just bend over backwards to make sure you are satisfied. That’s the type of business I like to deal with. Perhaps SPOT has read the reviews as well, realized these practices are costing them business, and have changed?

> check out the competition

I know of DeLorme. Are there others?

Thanks.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Competition to SPOT and DeLorme inReach on 05/05/2013 09:52:33 MDT Print View

"I know of DeLorme. Are there others?"

Yes.
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/satellite_communications_sotmr_part3.html
See the comments for recent updates.

Also:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/satellite_communications_sotmr_part1.html