Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies

SPOT and DeLorme introduce the DeLorme PN-60w with SPOT Communicator, and ACR announces the SarLink View. Both allow text messaging via satellite from remote locations, which goes beyond just chatting, enabling you to provide important information to people on the outside.

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by Will Rietveld | 2010-08-03 11:00:00-06

DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w GPS with SPOT Communicator Combines GPS Communication with Text Messaging and Emergency Communication via Satellite

Tied in with Outdoor Demo we had the opportunity to field test the new DeLorme PN-60w GPS with built in SPOT communicator. This product pairing consists of two separate units: a SPOT Communicator unit that clips onto the top of your pack or pack shoulder strap where it has good exposure to the sky, and the DeLorme PN-60w handheld mapping GPS. Besides the usual set of icons and menus in the GPS, the unit also enables four types of communications sent out by the SPOT: progress tracking, “I’m OK,” emergency/SOS, and text messaging. Its the first GPS that enables type-and-send text messaging via satellite from virtually anywhere in the world to stay connected with family, friends, and emergency services. In the event of an emergency, it allows your group to provide real time information regarding the situation and what your needs are. If you forgot something, if you want to revise your schedule for a re-supply, or if you need repair parts sent in, this device enables you to get in touch with someone on the outside to tell them what you need.

Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies - 1
The new DeLorme PN-60w GPS with SPOT Communicator allows you to stay in touch when there’s no cell phone service, providing coverage from locations worldwide. With this device you can type and send text messages from the field to let others track your progress via social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Fire Eagle, SpotAdventures.com, or Geocaching.com. In addition it has the usual SPOT communication ability to send emails to let know you’re okay, or to send help in case of an emergency, all with your GPS location embedded. DeLorme specifies the weight of the PN-60w at 5.4 ounces (153 g), and the SPOT Communicator at 3.7 ounces (105 g), however our scale gave weights of 6.4 and 4.8 ounces (181 and 136 g), respectively. MSRP of the paired units is US$550.

Because messages are conveyed via satellite, and are not dependent on cellular phone coverage, the PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator keeps users reliably connected, even in difficult-access remote locales. Both devices are rugged and water resistant and thus better suited than most cell phones for the rigors of outdoor use.

“Now there’s a completely new way for those who travel off the beaten path to navigate with GPS and also send satellite text messages back home via email and popular social networking sites,” said DeLorme Vice President Caleb Mason. “It’s a thrill to be able to share your excitement when you summit a mountain, kayak through heavy white water, or reach a destination. It’s also a big stress reliever if you can keep loved ones apprised in case of delays, receive nonemergency help if you encounter problems, or send SOS messages in case of a serious emergency.”

The outbound text messages can be distributed to recipients’ cell phones and email addresses, and via social networking sites. In addition, family and friends can track a user’s progress via Google’s free online maps. A special interface on the PN-60w connects it wirelessly with the SPOT Satellite Communicator, which was designed exclusively for DeLorme. Messages are created on the PN-60w’s internal keyboard, then relayed via satellite for delivery using established SPOT technology. The SPOT actually sends tracking messages and “I’m OK” messages three times to ensure they go through; SOS messages are sent continuously.

I found the DeLorme PN-60w to be intuitive and user-friendly; it is a delight to use compared to some GPS units by competitors I have used recently. The display is easy to read in strong sunlight.

The Earthmate PN-60w comes with DeLorme Topo North America GPS maps and desktop software included, for topographic and street coverage of the U.S. and Canada. It also displays DigitalGlobe worldwide high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery, official USGS and Natural Resources Canada topo maps, and NOAA nautical charts, all available from DeLorme via low-cost subscriptions.

The text messaging, track progress, and emergency SOS features are all activated via subscriptions available from SPOT. Regular SPOT service is US$100 per year, tracking is $50, type-and-send text messaging comes with five free custom text messages upon activation. To purchase more type-and-send text messaging capability, the rates are 500 messages for US$50, 100 messages for US$30, and the single message rate is US$0.50 per message.

The DeLorme PN-60w (wireless) model, including the specially designed SPOT Communicator, is expected to be available in late August. The SPOT Communicator cannot be purchased separately; it is only available in the paired configuration. If a Personal Locator Device is all you need, then you should look at the next-gen SPOT 2 (US$150). Alan Dixon is currently working on a review update of the SPOT 2 that Backpacking Light will publish soon.

ACR Electronics Introduces the Next Generation of Personal Locator Beacons - Smaller, Lighter, and now with a Strobe Light and Multi-Use GPS Acquisition Testing

Not to be outdone, ACR Electronics has upgraded the SARLink 406 MHz PLB features to include a new strobe light function and multi-use GPS acquisition testing. The SARLink is one of the smallest, lightest 406 GPS PLBs in the world.

Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies - 2
New features in the SARLink are: a built-in, super bright LED strobe light to increase visibility for Search and Rescue; an onboard 66-channel parallel GPS acquires then transmits LAT/LON when the unit is activated, dramatically saving time for the distress message to reach local rescue centers, and provide rescue agencies with exact position to within 110 yards (100 meters); full functional self testing of internal circuitry, battery voltage and power; increased number of long GPS acquisition tests - up to twelve times per life of battery; more efficient design uses less power, making it smaller and lighter. Specifications: size: 2.3 x 5.9 x 1.5 in (6 x 15 x 4 cm), weight: 8.9 oz (252 g) with lanyard, MSRP US$499.

Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies - 3
The bigger news from ACR is the new SARLink View 406 GPS PLB, which adds an added level of assurance with instant information and a breakthrough digital display. The digital display, which allows the user to see all of the beacon’s operational activities, visually provides GPS LAT/LON, operating instructions, usage tips, and transmission bursts, as well as battery power. The Digital Display also makes self-testing simple and easily understood by visually walking the user through the self-test process step by step. The digital display will allow the user to test GPS functionality up to sixty times over the life of the battery.

When mated with ACR’s new 406Link.com (www.406Link.com) subscription-based satellite self test service, the SARLink View will also give users the ability to send non-distress messages via text/e-mail to family and friends, letting them know that all is OK.

Housed inside the unit, the Digital Display cannot be touched, bumped, pierced or otherwise damaged by an external force unless the entire PLB is destroyed. The PLB uses an LED type of display to ensure that it is visible when below freezing and in direct sunlight, therefore it does not suffer from the problems associated with LCD displays.

The waterproof SARLink View provides three levels of integrated emergency signal technology - GPS positioning, a powerful 406 MHz satellite detectable signal, and 121.5 MHz homing capability. The SARLink View broadcasts a unique registered distress signal that not only tells rescuers where the sender is, but who they are. An onboard GPS can fix the sender’s position to within 100 meters and then utilizes a powerful 406 MHz signal to relay the distress call to orbiting satellites. As local Search and Rescue is deployed, a separate homing signal and integrated LED strobe light guides rescuers to the sender’s exact position.

Specifications: size: 2.3 x 5.8 x 1.5 in (6 x 15 x 4 cm), weight: 9.1 oz (261 g) with lanyard, MSPR US$599.

ACR Products Announces 406Link.com

ACR Products has also announced the launch of a new subscription-based satellite self test service, 406Link.com, now available to current and new owners of 406 MHz Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs), and Emergency Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs).

Available in two service plans, 406Link.com now gives those owning 406 MHz emergency beacons the ability to send non-distress messages for the first time via text/e-mail to family and friends, letting them know that all is OK.

Priced from $40 (annual subscription), subscribers to the 406Link.com service, for example, will have access to ACR’s unique thru-the-satellite self-test application for PLBs, ELTs, and EPIRBs, which ensures the beacon is performing properly via transmission and satellite confirmation, ultimately sending a text and e-mail message to the beacon’s owner.

An upgraded service, 406Link Plus, will provide users with the self-test application system described above, plus the added features of multiple text and e-mail messaging, trip planning, and GPS test location (must have the ACR PLB AquaLink View/SARLink View to use this function). The upgraded 406Link.com plan is priced at $60 for an annual subscription.

McMurdo Fastfind 210 PLB

To complete our updated coverage of personal locator beacons, mention needs to be made of the Fastfind. UK-based McMurdo released their Fastfind 210 PLB to the US market in February 2009. Unlike personal signaling products such as the SPOT Satellite Messenger, the Fastfind is a single-purpose device whose sole purpose is to alert rescuers to your location in the event of an emergency; there is no progress tracking, “I’m OK” communication, or text messaging capability. It sends out an emergency message (only) via the standard 406 MHz band of the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite system that has been operational since 1979.

Like the SPOT Satellite Messenger, the Fastfind sends a signal with your GPS coordinates to a satellite network, which is then relayed to a ground station to alert authorities to your emergency. Once the Fastfind has been deployed, it must be returned to the manufacturer to be re-activated. However, it doesn't require a paid service subscription like SPOT, which is a plus. More details on the McMurdo Fastfind can be found in Mike Martin’s article published as part of our summer 2009 Outdoor Retailer coverage.

***************************

Note that a PLB is a satellite-signaling device of last resort, for use when all other means of self-rescue have been exhausted and where the situation is deemed to be grave and eminent, and the loss of life, limb, eyesight or valuable property will occur without assistance. It’s important to note that communication (including messaging) is one-way from you to the outside; you cannot receive acknowledgment or responses from recipients, and there is no real-time confirmation that messages are received. All beacons must be registered. There are no monthly service fees required for 406 MHz beacons.


Citation

"Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/orsm2010_personal_locator_beacon_technologies.html, 2010-08-03 11:00:00-06.

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Forum Index » Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 » Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies


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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies on 08/03/2010 12:21:33 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies" on 08/03/2010 12:59:20 MDT Print View

I've been predicting that the next generation of PLBs would include texting capabilities (really helpful to SAR to know for what emergency to prepare!) and maybe song-and-dance routines to entertain us until help arrives....

The new ACR units are still not competitive with the McMurdo FastFind 210 when it comes to weight, price or bulk. But I strongly suspect that few of us will keep our PLBs for the whole 5-year warranty period, in view of the technological advances. I just bought the FastFind (half the weight, half the bulk, half the price of my old ACR unit) and donated my ACR unit to a grateful Boy Scout troop.

Thanks for the update!

Edited by hikinggranny on 08/03/2010 13:00:06 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies on 08/03/2010 14:25:35 MDT Print View

Many would doubt the reliability.

http://www.equipped.org/blog/?p=207

"PN-60w with SPOT Satellite Communicator keeps users reliably connected, even in difficult-access remote locales."

Edited by jshann on 08/03/2010 14:50:28 MDT.

Cameron Semple
(camS) - F

Locale: Brisbane, Australia
Re: Outdoor Retailer Summer 2010: Update on Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) Technologies on 08/03/2010 20:40:02 MDT Print View

Very interesting product. I am interested to see the review on the Spot 2 aswell.

I am currently in the middle of organising with a local reseller to do my own evaluation of it in some fairly dense rainforest.

Edited by camS on 08/03/2010 20:40:40 MDT.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
"PLB" Technologies? on 08/03/2010 21:21:15 MDT Print View

"PLB" Technologies? Satellite notification technologies might be more appropriate. The SPOT is not a PLB.

A SPOT is a proprietary device (Globalstar, Inc.) that is essentially a satellite phone that operates in text only mode. A SPOT makes use of Globalstar's satellite phone satellites which are limited in number and coverage.

A PLB is a device that may be manufactured by any number of firms so long as they meet the specifications set forth by the FCC. A PLB has access to SAR satellites run by a consortium of countries (France, UK, US, Russia). There are more satellites and a wider coverage area in the SAR sat network than in the private Globalstar network.

Important differences between a PLB and a SPOT:
1. If a SPOT can't "see" GPS satellites, then the SPOT's position cannot be determined and is essentially useless in terms of finding a person in distress. A PLB's position can still be determined even if it can't "see" GPS satellites using the Doppler shift of the PLB's radio signal.
2. A PLB has a much stronger signal than a SPOT. The article quotes 5,000 milliwatts vs. 400 milliwatts (12.5 times more powerful). The stronger signal of a PLB has a much better chance of getting through smoke, cloud cover, forest canopy, etc. Recall also that the SAR sat network is has more satellites and a wider coverage area.
3. A PLB sends out a secondary homing signal that can be detected and zeroed in on by SAR personnel. A SPOT has no such signal.
4. A SPOT depends on a private, commercial firm which could go out of business at any time. A PLB links to a government run network; the government is far less likely to go out of business.

If everything works properly, the SPOT is clearly the more versatile device, particularly in it's new partnership with DeLorme. If everything works properly. The problem of course that the SPOT has more points of failure and is less likely to work properly than a PLB.

Which is the better device? Each person has to make up his or her own mind, but I think it's important to bear the technical distinctions between a SPOT and a PLB in mind.

HJ

Daryl Hawkins
(dlh62c)
SPOT vs PLB on 08/04/2010 04:04:47 MDT Print View

Great writeup!

It all boils down to what you want the item to do and how much you’re willing to spend.

I use my SPOT as a tracking device while I ride my motorcycle in remote locations. If I were to crash, there exist that possibility that I may not be able to press the 911 button. But in tracking mode my route is being recorded and can be displayed on the SPOT website so friends and family would have at least somewhere to start looking.

Why not carry both!

daryl

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Ho Hum! on 08/04/2010 11:40:59 MDT Print View

I'm sorry that I can't get worked up over all the advances in these devices. At bottom it only matters if they work flawlessly and every single time. SPOT has never demonstrated this capacity, the 406 devices perhaps do but are only good for true emergencies and then you have no real guarantee that they have connected.
No, for the price that these devices and service run, I would rather do what I have been doing for the past several years. I rent a 10oz Iridium phone that has never failed to connect me to my wife, or, in one case, to the ranger district to report a camper drunk waving a pistol at other campers at Jenny Lake. It costs me $9 a day plus $2 a minute for connections. I enjoy hearing my wife's voice and letting her know that I am just fine and had a great day on the trail. With discipline you can get everything you need to say into 60 seconds of perhaps 90seconds. (And that drunk and dangerous camper was frogmarched out of the wilderness inside of an hour when two armed rangers showed up and thanked me as did most of the other scared campers.) A SAT phone is a much cheaper alternative and much more flexible in its use.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Sat :Phone vs PLB on 08/04/2010 12:34:37 MDT Print View

True, you don't really know if your PLB has connected or not once you activate it. However, a PLB is far more likely to make a connection than a Sat phone.

You do have the advantage of knowing when a sat phone doesn't connect -- in fact you'd have that "advantage" quite frequently. :)

No question though, that if your Sat phone can get through, the Sat phone is far more versatile than a SPOT or a PLB. On the other hand, if you're lost, a Sat phone won't be of much help unless it's somehow GPS enabled whereas a PLB with it's not one but two separate methods of identifying your position AND a homing beacon would be quite handy.

By the way, some of the newer PLB's coming out do have an "I'm OK" feature and are not "dire emergency" use only.

Wouldn't it be nice if they merged the different functionalities of a SPOT, PLB, and Sat phone into one lightweight, reasonably priced unit?

HJ

allen force
(yknott456)

Locale: Florida
SPOT on 08/04/2010 16:39:39 MDT Print View

I hope the new Spot proves more reliable that the first generation. When they said you need a clear view of the sky they really meant it. I still carry it when kayaking in wilderness areas but for hiking in the woods it's all but useless. Marrying it to the Delorme GPS should at least solve the GPS reception part of the problem, then hopefully they can use a more specific antenna for the Sat communication.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
SPOT 2 Recall on 08/04/2010 18:53:47 MDT Print View

They've already done a recall on the SPOT 2 if that's any indication.

HJ

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: SPOT 2 Recall on 08/05/2010 04:55:51 MDT Print View

> They've already done a recall on the SPOT 2 if that's any indication.

Details?

Cheers

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Re: Sat :Phone vs PLB on 08/05/2010 06:35:11 MDT Print View

Jim, thanks so much for weighing in on this thread. I did my best to present the new info on these devices, but I am not an expert by any means. This discussion helps the rest of us understand the pros and cons of these devices a lot better, and helps us figure out what the best options are.

Best,
Will

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Re: Re: SPOT 2 Recall on 08/05/2010 07:02:26 MDT Print View

recall

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: Sat :Phone vs PLB on 08/05/2010 16:59:52 MDT Print View

Jim
I have been using my rental Iridium SAT phone for almost three years and have yet to find that I can't connect for a call. It also sends text messages at less cost than voice and these texts are even more reliably connected than voice. Admittedly, I have had to move around some for voice -- usually about 3 to 5 feet to get a connection sometimes. But that's about it. I also carry my Gekko 301, so I do know where I am. I can agree that the PLBs are much more reliable than the SPOT which is a worthless piece of trash as far as I am concerned. (I own the 1st gen model and would be happy to sell it to anyone who wants it.)

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: SPOT 2 Recall on 08/05/2010 17:37:40 MDT Print View

Roger:

I'm not referring to something new in case you were wondering. I'm referring to this thread which in turn links to SPOT's website.

HJ

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: Re: Sat :Phone vs PLB on 08/05/2010 17:53:03 MDT Print View

Mitchell,

Your experience is unusual in terms of people I've talked to and what I've read, but I'm glad to hear that your Sat phone has worked so well. Iridium is a better provider than Globalstar by all accounts that I've read, so the provider you choose will affect your results.

Doug Ritter, who is generally recognized a survival expert writes this in his blog: "I would never bet my life on a sat phone connection. They are great when they work, but a 406 MHz distress beacon is a lot more reliable. Too many times I have been in situations when the sat phone should have worked, no problem, but didn’t."

I don't have a research paper to back up my assertion, but I'm reasonably confident just based on the nature of the two technologies that a PLB will be more reliable than a Sat phone.

If you're in a situation where weight isn't quite so critical (back country road exploration, sailing, snow mobiling, etc.) and communication is really important, then the two would be quite complimentary albeit expensive.

HJ

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
PLB vs SAT phone on 08/06/2010 10:50:19 MDT Print View

Jim
As I said I can grant that PLBs may be more robust and reliable than SAT phone for emergencies. Ritter may have more experience with both. I don't know. My experience has been exceptional, perhaps, but that is all I have to go by. Yes, it would be great if we had a "combo" device. But we don't, so we make choices. I would think that anyone reading the volume of reports and posts on the SPOT, in all its versions, would be hard pressed to call it a useful and reliable device. (Great marketing program, however!) The PLBs would be a 1st choice for an exclusively emergency device perhaps followed by the SAT phone, if your assertions prove true. But as I said, my use of the SAT phone has been for emergencies ( although not for me I have as indicated used it for others with sucess) and home contact and reassurance. For me, then, the SAT phone has been and will continue to be my first choice.

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim)

Locale: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Re: PLB vs SAT phone on 08/06/2010 15:31:03 MDT Print View

Sounds reasonable. I have no real problem with what you're saying. I think each means of emergency communication: HAM radio, SPOT, Sat Phone, Cell Phone, PLB, GMRS/FRS radio, etc. has it's strengths and weaknesses. Risk assessment and risk mitigation are very personal decisions. The idea of "one right answer" is a bit hard for me to swallow.

In that personal risk assessment, I think it is good to have some insight into those technologies which might mitigate risk. I hope that my comments about a PLB vs. a SPOT have been informative and helpful. I don't mean to imply that anyone without a PLB is somehow lacking in intelligence.

HJ

Gerald Miller
(colnagospud) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
SPOT 2 Reliability on 08/08/2010 14:08:47 MDT Print View

Maybe I can shed some light on this conversation through personal experience...After receiving my SPOT 2 back from the rebate I first noticed that the battery cover did not fit properly any more. I contacted SPOT whom said that it was OK. On my first outing, a five plus mile hike in Oak savannah around a large lake with very good view of the sky the unit performed terribly. It actually had us track across lake inlets, arms and terrain where we didn't go. When I lined up the track with google earth's images of the same hike clearly showed the trail that we were on and the SPOT 2 track well off of it. Since we could see the trail on the GE image I felt that SPOT had an excellent opportunity to track us correctly.

Early in the year I had dismissed incorrect tracking because one trip was along the Sea to Fort trail of Lewis and Clark in Oregon which had several trees and other obstructions that could block the view of the satellites. Same with another trip in the Sierra, but I wasn't impressed.

When I first e-mailed SPOT about this issue they dismissed it as possible user error or other issues, certainly not their device. I upped the ante by calling there customer service...after several levels of managers etc looking at the comparison of the google earth image showing the trail and their track they asked me to go do the hike again to see if it would do better!!!! I stated that if this was an emergency (the reason why I bought the unit) do overs were unacceptable. They stated their concern and said that the unit performed as good as expected. Thats when I asked for all of my money back. They suggested sending me a replacement unit, of which a higher person on the food chain reneged, again stating that my unit worked as good as expected. Then they would only prorate the refund of the additional services that I purchased from them even though they had had my unit longer then I had while being retroed due to the recall. Finally I got a full refund for the cost of the services and REI took back the unit w/o and problems.

In fact I used that money plus to buy the ACR PLB which although doesn't have the tracking feature...it does appear to be more accurate and gets its signal w/o any trouble. This past week I spent backpacking in the Sierra and used it every night w/o any do overs due to not being able to reach the satellites.

If you want some fun, google globalstar and read of all of their issues, wheter it be funding, SEC violations, and their aging satellite constelation which they have trouble keeping functional,
g

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: SPOT 2 Reliability on 08/08/2010 16:34:06 MDT Print View

Gerald, you might want to think differently about these PLB devices.

First of all, Google Earth uses imagery from low-earth satellites. They are non-geosynchronous. That means that they "see" the surface terrain a lot better and they are nearly overhead, and they do not try to "see" much at an oblique angle.

PLB transmitters normally have GPS receivers built in. GPS signals are from non-geosynchronous satellites that are half of the geosynchronous orbital altitude. That means that received GPS signals are constantly changing minute by minute, and density of the forest around you makes a huge difference. PLB transmitters have to transmit out to other satellites, and it sure helps to know where they are in the sky. That can be difficult at the higher latitudes.

Next time, you might want to understand the technical issues before you dip your toe into these expensive waters.

--B.G.--

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Watch SPOT get lost on 08/09/2010 10:42:12 MDT Print View

Gerald and Bob:
Guys. Please search BPL for the lengthy reviews and posts from the many of us who purchased SPOT. You will note that even after the excellent and useful review that BPL posted,(see here: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/spot_satellite_personal_tracker.html
) the vast majority of the posts were uniformly negative. SPOT has failed more of us in ideal circumstances in the field than seems possible for such a hyped device. Even the reviewers went with a legalistic approach not wanting to recommend a device which is so "complicated". SPOT has worked for a few people under what appear to be ideal conditions. But most of us who have owned the device want our money back with an apology in bold capital letters. Most of us would like to recommend the SPOT company for one of the lower circles of Hell where they can send a "we are ok" message as often as they like. No one will receive it, but that is performance within acceptable parameters.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Watch SPOT get lost on 08/09/2010 10:47:01 MDT Print View

That BPL article is not public.

--B.G.--

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: Spot getting Lost on 08/09/2010 13:40:13 MDT Print View

Bob
Sorry about that. I guess I did not notice members only. However, a search of BPL will bring up many of the posts which have been posted most of which are negative.

Gerald Miller
(colnagospud) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
SPOT 2 Reliability on 08/10/2010 09:10:15 MDT Print View

Bob...thank you for you insight and lesson, however, bottom line is that the SPOT unit that I bought was DEFECTIVE and SPOT admitted as much but would not support their product. They also asked me to "track" a trip from Sacramento to Fresno on Hwy 99. It was equally off track while driving down the Hwy. Is this what anyone wants when you might be in need of help? As for me a retired fire chief and Emergency Response Manager for a major State Agency, I don't think so.....

What happens out in the field is much more important to me than knowing the difference in orbits, technology, and other mapping technology. I understand that stuff and I also understand the issues with globalstar, but the bottom line is will this tool work for me as expected?