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Keep in touch from anywhere with SPOT
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Keep in touch from anywhere with SPOT

Mobile phones have become ubiquitous..we have become accustomed to being in touch from wherever we are. That at least is the experience of most Urban dwellers in North America so we tend to forget there are still huge gaps in cellular coverage. Who hasn’t dealt with the dreaded no bars when you have needed to make a phone call from somewhere off the beaten path. Let’s suppose it was an emergency situation and you needed help..or you are hiking or skiing outside cell phone coverage and you just want to let loved ones you are fine. Now you can do all these things and more from pretty much everywhere in the world with SPOT Satellite messenger devices.

I tested two SPOT devices..the SPOT GPS Satellite Messenger and the SPOT Connect. Both devices share basic features:

You program the SPOT device from a website and once that is set up you are ready to take the device on your next adventure..In my case I simply drove to a woods near my home and had the SPOT¬†GPS Satellite Messenger track my progress automatically…very handy if you are off in the boonies and for some reason don’t check in it could help lead rescuers to your location. In my case I didn’t need any help ūüôā so I sent a check-in message to let those who care that I was OK.

The SPOT Connect functions as a companion to a Bluetooth equipped iPhone , iPod Touch or Android smartphone…it adds a few interesting features:

I really likes the extra versatility provided by the link to my smartphone..the app lets you control all aspects of the device settings and messages..being able to customize the messages is a real bonus. Then of course there is the ability to Tweet or check in to Facebook from the most inaccessible places in the world..or in my case the woods near my house.

There is however a downside, you must have a functioning smartphone..and smartphone batteries do run down..but if you are outside the phone’s coverage area you can turn it of until you need it to control the SPOT connect. In case of emergency the SPOT Connect can send an SOS message without being connected to a smartphone.

I tested both devices for several weeks under a variety of conditions..the woods near my house to the centre of downtown. I found satellite acquisition to be quick and reliable and all the messages I sent were transmitted on the first of three attempts the device makes. I recommend SPOT devices for anyone who plans to travel off the beaten path and still be able to stay in touch.

The SPOT GPS Messenger sells for $149.99 and the Spot Connect is $169.99 each is eligible for a $50 Mail in Rebate until December 31 2012..wouldn’t they make great stocking stuffers? They can be purchased online¬†or look here for a store near you. Basic service which includes¬†¬†Check-in/OK, Help and SOS messages as well as 5 Type and Send messages on the Connect is $99.99 per year ¬†Additional¬†services such as tracking, More Type¬†and¬†Send messages, GEOS rescue benefit and roadside or waterborne assistance are available at extra charge.

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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