One of the challenges that many hunters and outdoors people face is staying in communication with family and friends while in the field. Often times, our travels take us to places that have little to no cell phone service. There are a few companies in the marketplace that make products that allow two-way communication as well as the ability to call for help in an emergency. SPOT has stepped up to the plate and created a device that can do both effectively and efficiently.
Disclaimer: Edward Gramza IV is a Brand Ambassador for SPOT. The opinions of this review are his and his alone and Edward Gramza IV was not paid for this review and neither was HuntingLife.com.
In May, SPOT came out with their new two-way communication device called the SPOT X. Like SPOT’s other devices, the SPOT X’s main purpose is to act as a means to send out a beacon to emergency responders to assist you almost anywhere in the world. Compared to other SPOT devices, the SPOT X also allows two-way communication with first responders as well as family and friends back home.
The SPOT X is designed with a standard illuminated QWERTY keyboard and monochrome display. There are additional buttons used to scroll through the menus, turn on the tracking feature, and an SOS button. It features a rugged black and orange rubber housing and an external antenna. The rechargeable lithium battery will allow 240 hours or 10 days of battery life in continuous 10-minute interval tracking mode.
Aside from the fact that the SPOT X could actually save your life if put in bad situation, the innovative feature is the ability to communicate with loved ones. You are able to send messages to both cell phones or email addresses. Each SPOT X comes with a unique “phone number” that allows texting via satellite to any phone from virtually anywhere in the world. You can select how often the SPOT X retrieves messages so that you don’t run down the battery. There is also an option in the menu to manually retrieve messages.
The SPOT X also allows you to track your position and movement so that family and friends can follow along on your adventure. This breadcrumb trail is put into an easy to use map as well as being accessible via the SPOT mobile app. On the SPOT website, you can create preset messages to send out that again will let people know where you are and that everything is okay. One additional feature on the SPOT X that many users might find beneficial is the ability to post a message on Twitter or Facebook.
Aside from all of these new features, the most important function is the SOS feature. This will send out a message letting Search and Rescue know that you need assistance as well as your location. With the SPOT X, you will have the ability to message back and forth with so that Search and Rescue can get additional information about your emergency. As of the writing of this review, the SPOT X has initiated two successful rescues. This is in addition to the nearly 6000 rescues to date. The satellite network is extensive and covers almost the entire globe.
The price for the SPOT X unit is $249.99. You do need to then purchase the messaging services but an annual commitment isn’t needed. For $359.40 per year, you can have unlimited messaging as well as SPOT’s 2 ½ minute interval tracking. Lesser expensive plans will have a cap on messages and longer tracking intervals. You can also opt to sign up for monthly payments ranging from $11.95 to $29.95 per month. Prefer to just have service for a month or two and not the entire year? SPOT has you covered there as well. Plans range from $14.95 to $39.95 per month. The number of messages per month varies based on the price.
So how does the SPOT X work in the real world? From my experience it works great. I will admit that there were a few hiccups when I first received my unit in the mail. Activation required a phone call to customer service and sending messages wasn’t working as I had hoped. After working with customer service, those issues were quickly resolved and firmware updates were created for all SPOT X devices. One thing that I can say about the SPOT customer service is that they take any and all feedback to heart and will look to resolve your issues. Again, they were quick to resolve not only my issues but feedback provided by other customers.
After updating my device to the latest software, it is working flawlessly. With an upcoming hunt in Montana, I need communicating back home not only for me but for my hunting companions. For me, when I head to many locations in the US to hunt I lose any and all cell phone service. I am unable to make phone calls or send out text messages letting my family know where I am and that I am okay. The SPOT X is going to resolve that issue for me in a great way.
For anybody looking to purchase any SPOT device should be doing so to have the peace of mind to know that if you are in an emergency you have the ability to get help. Again, that is the primary function for a GPS messenger unit. The ability to communicate with home is an added benefit that the SPOT X provides. So, if you often go to places where our cell phones don’t, give the SPOT X a look before heading out into the field.