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January 23, 2008

SPOT Satellite Messenger Personal Tracker Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 3 of 5
Buy this GPS from Amazon

Verdict: Unique Features. A Great Idea. Not Sensitive Enough.

Spot Satellite Personal Tracker

SPOT says it's Personal Tracker device is the world's first satellite messenger. Leveraging both GPS satellite and SPOT's own network, the device is able to report its location to friends and family even in areas without cellular or wireless coverage.

Priced at $169.99 (plus $9.99/month service fee, or $99.99/year), SPOT's Satellite Messenger boasts up to 1 year battery life (using 2 AA lithium batteries), global coverage, the ability to track your position using Google Maps, and 9-1-1 alerting for life-threatening emergencies. The bright orange handheld device is water- temperature -and shock-proof, and has the ability to send pre-defined "I'm OK" emails or SMS alerts. Oh, and it floats too.

Table of Contents

  1. Features
  2. Specifications
  3. What's in the Box (Unboxing)
  4. SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker
  5. Using SPOT
  6. Pros
  7. Cons
  8. Conclusion

1. Features:

  • SPOT sends your exact GPS coordinates and selected messages over commercial satellites to tell others of your location and status.
  • Works around the world, independently of cellular networks.
  • SPOT features four key functions that enable users to send messages to friends, family or emergency responders, based upon varying levels of need:
    • Alert 9-1-1 - Dispatch emergency responders to your exact location
    • Ask for Help - Request help from friends and family in your exact location
    • Check In - Let contacts know where you are and that you're OK
    • Track Progress - Send and save your location and allow contacts to track your progress using Google Maps™

2. Specifications

  • Satellite coverage works around the world, independently of cellular systems
  • 7.37 ounces
  • Unit Cost: $169.99 USD (MSRP)
  • Service Fee: $99.99 USD annual OR $9.99 USD monthly subscription charge. Optional features include automatic tracking service (SPOTcasting) and guaranteed extraction service for countries or regions with non-responsive emergency services.
  • Unlimited SPOTcasting Fee: $49.99 annual (OPTIONAL)
  • GEOS Search and Rescue Benefit: $7.95 annual (OPTIONAL)
  • 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.
  • Battery Life
    • Includes 2 AA lithium batteries; under normal usage a full battery charge should meet or exceed the following
      • Power on, unused: Approx. 1 year
      • SPOTcasting tracking mode: Approx. 14 days
      • 9-1-1 mode: Up to 7 consecutive days
      • SPOTcheck OK/√: 1900 messages
  • Operating Temperatures: -40°F to +185°F
  • Operating Altitude: -300 feet to +21,000 feet
  • Floats in water
  • Waterproof to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes
  • Humidity Rated MIL-STD-810E Method 507.3, 95% to 100% condensing
  • Salt Fog Rated Per MIL_STD 810E Method 509.3, 5% NaCl, 95% distilled water
  • Vibration Rated Per SAE J1455
  • Dropped twice on all six sides from one meter onto hard surface.

3. What's in the Box (Unboxing)

SPOT Satellite Messenger Retail Box
Figure 1: SPOT Satellite Messenger Retail Box

SPOT, Batteries, Manuals
Figure 2: What's Included in the Box

SPOT's Satellite Personal Tracker includes the following items in the box:

  • SPOT Satellite Messenger GPS
  • User's Guide
  • GEOS Emergency Response Services printed guide
  • 2 AA Lithium batteries (Energizer brand)