SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger Communication Device
Satellite communication device manufacturer, Globalstar, has announced the release of a new two-way satellite messaging device called SPOT X. The product is first-and-foremost a communications device, while also providing key S.O.S., tracking and “Check In” features. SPOT X joins the SPOT Gen3 personal locator and SPOT Trace theft-alert devices in the SPOT family.
SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger
The SPOT X looks something like a beefed-up Blackberry device with a prominent, illuminated QWERTY keyboard layout and a 2.7″ backlit display. The benefit of a dedicated keyboard is obvious; it allows the user to quickly and efficiently type out text messages without the requirement of pairing the device with a smartphone or the hassle of scrolling through a menu. This makes the device an excellent standalone product.
Satellite messaging allows the user to message any cellular phone number or email address—worldwide. The beauty of this functionality is that users can send any customized message without being limited to only a specific number of pre-programmed messages. This makes SPOT X a much more capable and convenient off-grid communication tool.
In addition, the SPOT X service plan provides every device with a dedicated, static phone number in their home country. Mobile phones can reach the device with SMS messaging at its number. Communication is not required to be initiated by the device user, and information can be sent back-and-forth.
Now here’s something really cool: SPOT X users can also message one another in the backcountry, device-to-device. This functionality offers another layer of communication and safety in the mountains. There are many potential situations in which sledders could benefit from the ability to communicate in this way.
For users travelling the globe, two-way messaging works not only in North America, but also South America, Europe and northern and southern Africa, as well as their adjacent coastlines. Messaging is restricted to one-way in Asia and the South Pacific.
Like SPOT’s GEN3 personal locator, the SPOT X can also be used to send an S.O.S. signal to the GEOS International Emergency Coordination Center. However, this functionality is vastly improved with the SPOT X model. Users now have the ability to message back and forth with GEOS, allowing crucial information about the emergency to be disseminated to local rescue services. In addition, GEOS can send a reassuring confirmation that help from emergency services is on its way.
SPOT X does feature some limited navigational features; however, the device specializes in communication, not navigation. That said, it does offer a built-in compass. Users may also pre-program waypoints, which can be used to help navigate off-grid.
For the purposes of tracking, SPOT X can be set to automatically send location coordinates at 2.5, 5, 10, 30 or 60 minute intervals. The device utilizes a Google Maps interface to allow friends and family to check in on a user’s progress. SPOT claims a battery life of 240 hours (10 days) in continuous 10-minute tracking mode. That should be substantially more battery life than all but the most demanding user will require. The battery is a rechargeable lithium type.
The Check In feature allows users to quickly and easily let a pre-determined number of contacts know they’re okay, without the hassle of typing out a specific message.
Social media users take note! SPOT X allows users to post directly to Facebook and Twitter, in case you just can’t wait to get back on-grid to let your followers know how great your adventure is.
And while these are all nice bonus features, it’s the two-way messaging and S.O.S. features that can really make the difference in a backcountry snowmobiling incident.
Ruggedness and Size
SPOT X is rated at IP67, which means two things. Firstly, it is protected from contact with harmful dust. Secondly, the device can withstand immersion in water up to a depth of 1m for a duration of 30 minutes. Basically, SPOT X is well protected for the mishaps that might come from its intended use.
It’s also reasonably compact and lightweight. The device measures 16.6cm x 7.4cm x 4.45cm and weighs in at 198g.
SPOT X Pricing and Availability
In Canada, the Spot X device is listed at $349.99 CAD. For the sake of comparison, the SPOT Gen3 retails for $190 CAD.
In addition to the cost of the device, a service plan is required. These range from $19.99/month USD for a basic subscription to $29.99/month USD for unlimited messaging with shorter interval tracking. Annual service plans are also available. There is a $19.95 USD activation fee.
SPOT X should be available in stores and online in Canada in May 2018.