Spot Cool Stuff has spotted The Spot. The Spot Satellite Messenger, that is. This rugged cell-phone sized device allows your friends and family to pinpoint your exact location while you are out on an adventure and allows you to signal for help should need it.
Here’s how it works:
While you are out on your a trip—a hike or boating excursion, for example—you turn on your Spot device. At any time you can push the Spot’s OK button; this will send a message to the people that you’ve reprogrammed into your contact list letting them know all is well with you. For each contact you can choose whether that person will receive a cell phone text message or an email with a link depicting your position on a Google map. There’s also an optional (and very cool) tracking feature that will produce a map on a password protected web page where your friends can see your route and real-time location.
If you are in need of assistance, but your situation is not too serious, you can push the Help button on your Spot. This will send repeated messages to those on your contact list that you are in need of assistance. Your help message will repeatedly be sent to each of your contacts until they acknowledge receiving the message or you hit the OK button again.
In emergency situations the Spot proves its true worth. If your trip has taken a turn towards the life-threatening push the 911 button. This will send an SOS message containing your exact coordinates to Spot’s GEOS Rescue Center who will contact the local authorities in whatever country/location you happen to be in.
While all that may sound cool (because it is!), the Spot does have a few downsides:
The cost, while not super expensive, isn’t super cheap either: The basic service is $100 a year (in addition to the one-time cost of the Spot device itself). If you want the real-time tracking functionality that’s an extra $50 a year.
Because the Spot works off of satellite signals (and not a cellular network) it needs a direct line of sight to the sky. The unit will not work if you are indoors, for example, or under dense foliage. Also, while Spot’s satellite covers most of the planet (including virtually all of Australia, North America and Europe) there are a few places where coverage is weak or non-exisitant, most notably the southern third of Africa, the very southern tip of South America, India and Nepal.
Your Spot contact list is limited to 10 people. We wish it could be larger than that.
The largest drawback, though, is that the Spot is only capable of sending out our location along with one of three messages: OK, Help or 911. There’s no way to specify what sort of help you might be in need of.
That said, we absolutely love the Spot’s real-time tracking functionality. If you are going on a prolonged trip it is a very cool way for your friends to follow along with where you are.
But most of all, there have already been several people for whom the Spot has saved their life. And you can’t put a price on that.
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