UTV Product Reviews

SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker Review

SPOT GPS Tracker Review

SPOT GPS Tracker

SPOT GPS Tracker

Information:

SPOT is the world’s first satellite messenger, using the GPS satellite system to determine you location and communications satellites to transmit that information to the chosen recipient. SPOT gives you and your loved ones peace of mind by allowing you to notify them or a GEOS International 9-1-1 Emergency Response Center of your exact location via Google Maps™, and to send for assistance in time of need around the world, completely independent of cellular phone or other land-based radio coverage.

SPOT Leverages both GPS satellite and SPOT’s own network to report its location to friends and family even in areas without cellular or wireless coverage.

SPOT works around the world, including virtually all of North America, Europe and Australia, portions of South America, Northern Africa and Northeastern Asia, and hundreds or thousands of miles offshore of these areas.

SPOT Features:

  • CHECK IN: Also known as SPOTcheckingSM, this feature allows you to let your SPOTteam – the friends and family you have chosen as your contacts – know that all is well, notify them of your location, or save waypoints so you can review your route at a later date.
     

  • TRACK PROGRESS: Also known as SPOTcastingSM, this feature allows friends and family to follow your progress in real time using your password, or to save waypoints so you can review your entire route at a later date. $49.99 annual (OPTIONAL)
     

  • ASK FOR HELP: In the event of a non-life threatening emergency, you can use this function to notify your SPOTteam – the friends and family you have chosen as your contacts – that you need assistance.
     

  • ALERT 9-1-1: Use this function In the event of a life threatening or other critical emergency to notify emergency services of your location and that you need assistance. The GEOS International Emergency Response Center alerts the appropriate agencies worldwide – for example contacting 9-1-1 responders in North America and 1-1-2 responders in Europe.
     

  • GEOS Search and Rescue Benefit: $7.95 annual (OPTIONAL)

Review:

I purchased a SPOT at Costco for $199.  $199 seemed a bit high until I looked at it a bit more. There was a $50 mail-in rebate and the price included the first year’s worth of basic service ($99).

My purpose for getting a SPOT is three-fold:

  1. I wanted to be able to let my family track my location while on UTV rides.

  2. I often take UTV trips that are out of the cell phone coverage area, so I liked the ability to contact emergency services.

  3. I wanted to use the Check-In and Track Progress features to record GPS coordinates for use in Trip Reports and magazine articles.

Here is an example email message from the SPOTChecking mode:

Checking in.  All is OK.
ESN:0-7471204
Latitude:38.6521
Longitude:-121.0702
Nearest Location: Ramp, El Dorado Hills, CA, US
Distance: 0 km(s)
Time:12/21/2008 00:55:27 (GMT)
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=38.6521,-121.0702&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

I am not so sure about the Check-In mode.  I pushed the button more times than I received emails.  After you push the button, it is hard to tell if it accepted your Check-In request. What I found after talking with the folks from SPOT is that you can only “check-in” once every 20 minutes.  If you follow this timeline, everything seems to work quite well.

I tried the SPOTcasting.  Here is what I found:

track 38.6413 -120.956 Milton Ranch Rd, , CA, US  
track 38.6706 -120.925 US Hwy 50, Shingle Springs, CA, US
track 38.6999 -120.823 Greenback Dr, Diamond Springs, CA, US

You can select which track entries you want, then export them to a table or even directly into a KML for Google Earth.

I took my SPOT with me on a recent trip to thedunes in the United Arab Emirates.  I used the check in feature a few times and it worked as advertised.

I also brought the SPOT on a sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands.  Here are the results:

For sailing purposes in the British Virgin Islands, using SPOT for an emergency would be pretty silly.  The US Coast Guard and VISAR both monitor VHF channel 16 so sending a 911 for help would most likely increase your rescue timeframe.  But the SPOT could be used in addition to the call for help so the authorities could get your GPS coordinates.

I found that using SPOT to check-in with family and friends was perfect though.  They got a link to Google Maps with the coordinates built right in so all they had to do is click on the link and zoom into exactly where we were.  In addition, so many people have posted pictures from the areas where we were at that Google Maps also listed several pictures from the area.  Very cool.

Press Release:

SPOT Inc. Announces SPOT – The World’s First Satellite Messenger

Tuesday, 07 August 2007

Revolutionary emergency messenger and personal tracker allows users to summon help from virtually anywhere on the planet.

OUTDOOR RETAILER SUMMER MARKET (Booth #76003), SALT LAKE CITY, August 7, 2007 –SPOT Inc. today announced the introduction of the SPOT™ Satellite Messenger. The SPOT messenger gives consumers a vital line of communication, independently of cellular coverage, with emergency services, friends, and family. SPOT is a revolutionary product that is designed to raise the safety factor for hundreds of millions of people around the world.

“All of us have heard the news stories of people getting lost, stranded or worse in the mountains or remote areas beyond the range of their cellular phones and we’ve all ondered what would we do if caught in those same dangerous or potentially lifethreatening situations,” said Darren Bassel, Director of Retail Marketing for SPOT Inc.

“Now, with SPOT, you can send a message for help or tell family members, friends or the authorities exactly where to find you using GPS accuracy. For anyone who ever drives their truck or car, or works or plays anywhere regardless of cellular coverage, help is now only a push button away.”

SPOT message and tracking functions enable users to send messages to friends, family or emergency responders, based on varying levels of need and to visually track the location of the SPOT Satellite Messenger:

  • Alert 9-1-1 dispatches emergency responders to an exact location

  • Ask for Help sends a request for help to friends and family

  • Check In lets contacts know where you are and that you are okay

  • Track Progress sends and saves your location and allows contacts to track your progress using Google Maps™

Weighing just over 7 ounces and priced at less than US $150, the SPOT Satellite Messenger provides consumers with the ability to send for emergency assistance in time SPOT Inc. Announces SPOT – The World’s First Satellite Messenger of need; notify employers, friends or family of their status; and allows them to visually track the messenger’s location and progress on a computer using Google Maps™ and the SPOT website. SPOT uses convenient, easy-to-replace AA size lithium batteries for complete portability and when powered on, has a standby battery life of approximately 12 months. SPOT floats and its rugged waterproof construction is engineered to withstand a wide variety of extreme environmental shock and temperature conditions.

SPOT is ideal for the growing market of outdoor enthusiasts, specifically when they are backpacking, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, ice and rock climbing, skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing or participating in recreational maritime activities. Experian Simmon’s Research estimates that the qualified outdoor enthusiast market alone exceeds 64 million consumers in the United States. SPOT is also ideal for those who need to notify others of their status after a natural or man-made disaster.

The National Association for Search and Rescue estimates more than 50,000 search and rescue missions are initiated each year in the United States alone. Many of these missions are undertaken without search and rescue knowing the exact location of the missing party. SPOT removes this unknown by providing GPS location coordinates that are accurate to within 20 feet.

SPOT can also be used for commercial lone worker safety applications for those businesses with employees operating in remote areas outside the range of cellular and other wireless communications. It is also a valuable safety tool for any person who drives their automobile outside of cellular coverage or for emergency messaging during natural disasters such as hurricanes or other situations when cellular or land-based communications may be damaged or unavailable.

Mr. Bassel added, “Never before have all of these innovative features existed in one device – in some cases, the technology just didn’t exist, and those that did were too expensive. Now, virtually everyone can afford a potentially life-saving satellite messenger. The SPOT Messenger really represents the next-generation of satellitebased solutions for consumers. This product is just the first in what we expect to be a series of innovative SPOT satellite products designed for the everyday consumer. We anticipate our solutions will serve our customers around the world with long term peace of mind for years to come.”

Pricing and Availability
The SPOT Satellite Messenger will be available to the public starting November 1, 2007 through retailers and through SPOT Inc.’s Web site,www.findmespot.com. The SPOT essenger will be available for $149 USD. Initially, service fees will be offered for at $99 USD. Later, monthly and multi-year options will be available. Optional features include automatic tracking service (SPOTcasting) and private rescue service for countries or regions with non-responsive emergency services.

Coverage
SPOT works around the world, including virtually all of the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia, portions of South America, Northern Africa and Northeastern Asia, and hundreds or thousands of miles offshore of these areas. SPOT uses the GPS satellite system to determine a user’s location and the SPOT network to transmit that location and the user’s status. The SPOT network features satellite technology with a proven 99.4% reliability while processing over 6 million messages a month – the equivalent of 2.3 messages per second.

Links:

Contact Info:

SPOT - Satellite Personal Tracker

SPOT Inc.
461 S. Milpitas Blvd.
Milpitas, CA 95035

Phone:
1 (866) OK1-SPOT

Website:  www.findmespot.com

 

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