May 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm #1290522
Suddenly available in time for my BD is inReach for iOS. Was not looking forward to buying an Android just so I could use the inReach. Today and tomorrow is a $50 rebate as well.May 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm #1882577
What features does the app support ? I used MotionX GPS on my last trip for mapping our path and distance purposes and liked being able to view this while on the trail. Does this support something like that? I can't seem to find an answer for that on either the DeLorme website or other reviews that I read. The text message functionality of this alone would probably be worth it to my wife knowing that I was safe.May 30, 2012 at 9:52 pm #1882592
Still not cheap with a ten dollar a month service charge.May 30, 2012 at 10:37 pm #1882603
I was a beta tester for the Android version. The InReach is a terrible design and I'm not sure how they are working now because Delorme did not honor their agreement to provide me with a production unit for being a beta tester. The unit I had died during the first firmware upgrade and it was rendered unusable after that so had limited testing. They weigh half a pound without the Android or iPhone, they are like a brick, I could not believe the size and weight of the thing. By the time you add an Android phone in a case you're probably close to a pound. The bluetooth pairing is very temperamental, getting the phone and inReach to communicate with each other can be a real problem and battery killer. The $10 monthly gets you almost no text messages and a significant cost per message. The $10/mo plan will get you 10 text messages, it costs $25/mo to get 40 text messages and $50/mo to get 120 messages. You can get a Globalstar Sat phone with unlimited calling and text messages in North America for $40/mo. and the phone weighs 7 oz. total! You don't need another smartphone to use it. To be honest I can't see why anyone would buy an inReach. I could not see carrying it and a smart phone with me just to try and send a message. I'd highly recommend against the inReach.May 31, 2012 at 5:11 am #1882637
Thanks Mike.May 31, 2012 at 6:29 am #1882650
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
Thanks for the information.
I have an Inmarsat Isat phone pro but I am not happy since the monthly cost tripled, I thought I could replace it with the De Lorme unit but after what you say I wont bother.
Do you know if Globalstar still have coverage issues?
StephenMay 31, 2012 at 7:24 am #1882666
No problem, since this is BPL, I know being light counts and the inReach is far from it. Globalstar still does not have perfect coverage due to the problems with the their original satellite constellation. However, over the past year they have successfully launched new satellites with more launches planned for this year. So with the current satellite configuration, there seems to be relatively good coverage over the course of a day at any given location. To get an idea of what that coverage will be, they have their "Call Times Tool" to see what the coverage over a 24 hour period will be at a given location. I've checked it out and plugged some of the numbers into a spreadsheet, and they seem to be getting about 70+% coverage. Here's the link to the tool:
just plug in a location and pick a date and it will tell you when you will have coverage. Now of course just like anything that is based on satellites, whether it's phone, PLB, GPS, etc. this is dependent on a clear view of the sky. If you're in dense forest in the bottom of a deep narrow canyon, the coverage is going to be much less, but the same will be true for inReach, Iridium phones, Immarsat, or whatever. The $39.95/mo deal goes through the end of this month I think. Last year the deal was $19.95/mo, but of course the coverage was not as good. Just like inReach uses the Iridium system, I believe that Globalstar is the system that Spot uses. The Sat problems that they had were with the duplex (2 way) comms. Apparently this did not affect simplex (1 way) comms, so that is why the Spot Messenger works well even though it's based on the same system. Now one thing to consider is that the phone will cost $500 vs. $250 for the inReach. But with the inReach you also have to have a smart phone or Delorme GPS device to fully utilize the text messaging. And then of course there is the cost associated with text messaging on the inReach which I personally think makes it prohibitive. I had never owned any Delorme products prior to being involved in the inReach beta test program. And after my involvement in that, I know why. They are a company that was originally known for their map books. With the advent of modern technology, they branched out into other geography related tools. The trouble is, when you think of the best tools, Delorme is usually down the list. Take GPS, they make a lot of GPS receivers. Would you think of getting a Delorme GPS? Probably not, Garmin has a much better reputation and makes much better devices. Well they've done the same with the inReach, they are trying to copy the Spot Messenger and again they have failed miserably.
So how well does your Immarsat phone work? Is the coverage good and did you notice that in the backcountry you would have trouble if you were in forests or deep canyons? What are the current monthly rates on that?
MikeMay 31, 2012 at 7:54 am #1882671
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
I bought the Isat Phone Pro about 18 months ago and have only used it to make a few calls and the coverage was fine, I did use it in thick forest with no issues.
I originaly bought a prepaid card for 150$ with 150-200 minutes which where valid for 2 years, the prepay system does no work in the US but works everywhere else (I was living in Europe at the time)
I moved to the US in the New Year and purchased a one years prepiad subsciption for 150$ os something like that with the calls costs 80-90 cents.
A few weeks after getting the SIM I was infored that Inmarsat planned to change the plans and I had to move on to a 30$ a month plan with 10 free minutes a month (which do not rollover), I was offered a refund for the 8months still left or could get credit towards the new plan.
I have barely used my prepaid card so might stick that on ebay in Europe.
StephenMay 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm #1882757
I can't speak to your beta experience, but there are a lot of reviews of inReach that have it easily outperforming the SPOT for access and reliability. And they really are different beasts. SPOT is one-way only and lets your choose one of three buttons: Message A, Message B, or SOS. I don't call that a text capability by any stretch. Their marketeers call button B "Custom text message". What a joke. If all you want is tracking, then I suppose it is OK for $100/year. Small and light (170g) is good too.
inReach is the heavier at 240g, but at $120/yr for 10 texts + 25 cents/track + 1.50/text it kicks the SPOT. Paired with my smartphone, which is also my GPS-topo, tunes, hi-res GPS tracker, and camera, the inReach is a far better solution.
Globalstar phones cost $360/year with zero minutes + $1.49/min used. Not sure how much outbound texts cost (unlimited inbound). This is a different beast as well since you can talk. Expensive ($435) and not all that light either at 200g. On top of that you get no GPS topos to browse, so add a handheld?
I feel sorry for Globalstar for their satellite problems, but when access is only good for 6-20 minute stretches I would find it very annoying to have a call dropped then have to wait for service again. I suppose if I brought a laptop with internet access I could use their access tool to plan when I would use the phone.
Globalstar's pricing dropped like a rock when their satellites went down and have been rising as their service improves with new launches. I guarantee they will be on par with inmarsat and iridium pricing when they are reliable again.
I would have bought into an iridium phone ($1200) but the pre-paid minute plans expire. That's really a tarted-up service plan in my book, and expensive by a long shot.May 31, 2012 at 10:51 pm #1882912
I guess if I had paid $250 for a half pound brick the size of the inReach I would be somewhat defensive too, but I would at least try to get my facts straight. According to the inReach website the device, plus the 2 lithium ion batteries that they recommend, weighs 8 oz (247 g), or as I said previously, half a pound. A lot of guys on this forum use packs that weigh less than that.
The old Spot Messenger was a stand alone device that had basic functionality, similar to the inReach with no smart phone, but either you're uninformed or you chose not to mention the Spot Connect which provides the ability to send text messages using a smart phone very similar to the inReach. Now the Spot is still a simplex device, meaning it is only one way communication, so you can only send messages and not receive them. With the inReach you get 2-way communication. By the way, the Spot Connect happens to weigh 4.9 oz (139 g) with batteries. Speaking of batteries, that brings up something that I didn't mention in my original post, but the pre-production inReach was a battery hog, it would go through expensive lithium ion batteries like crap through a goose as George Patton would say. And according to the Delorme website, it doesn't look like the production units are any better. The website doesn't bother rating battery usage in days like the Spot website, instead they rate the inReach battery life at 60 hours when sending a track every 10 min. (I think that calcs out to 2.5 days). The Spot Connect on the other hand is rated at 4.5 days when sending a track every 10 min. Oh, and I hate to think what it would cost to send that track on an inReach since sending tracks aren't included in their $10/mo plan. I guess you could pay $25 or $50/mo and you could get unlimited tracking. I have used a Spot Connect and it was a much better designed device in terms of the hardware. The inReach is just plain awkward in my opinion, it literally feels like a brick. I had originally planned to take it on backpacking trips, but after seeing it I thought there would be no way I would hall that and a cell phone.
The most basic plan for the inReach costs $120/yr and you get 10 messages/mo with no tracking. There's no roll over messages. if you take a 10 day trip one month, you can't use any of those unused texts from the months when the inReach was sitting in your closet. If you want 40 msgs/mo you pay $300/yr. Spot pricing seems to be a little more flexible in that you pay $100 for the year then $30 for 100 msgs to use whenever you want. Or you can add 500 msgs for $50. Unlimited tracking is $50/yr. So it's more a la carte and much more flexible.
Now as far as Globalstar, you're flat out wrong about the costs associated with it. As I mentioned in my previous post, Globalstar currently has a promotion through the end of June that provides UNLIMITED calling and text messages for $39.95/mo on a 12 mo contract. Let me repeat, UNLIMITED phone calls and text, not "zero minutes + $1.49/min used." Here's the link to their price plan page so you can verify that:
Oh yes, and that $39.95/mo includes data access, so you can use the phone as a data modem with computers or other devices to access the internet. Now this plan only covers use in North America, so if you go elsewhere there will be roaming charges. You are correct about the weight of the Globalstar GSP 1700 sat phone, it is 200 g (7.05 oz) with rechargeable batteries (not expensive lithium ion). But with that 7.05 oz you can make phone calls and send text messages, you don't need to carry another device! Now if you want to carry an a Smartphone and use it for "GPS-topo, tunes, hi-res GPS tracker, and camera" you can still bring it and use it for all those things, but you don't need too bring it just to send a text message. By the way, I'm curious, if you are using it for all those things what kind of battery do you have? I'm not aware of any smart phone that would last more than a day using it for GPS, tunes, and camera, and if you don't have enough juice to use it, what's the point of hauling it? I guess you could haul in more batteries or solar chargers.
Now as for feeling " sorry for Globalstar for their satellite problems", I'm not sure why you would. They have gotten over the hurdle and are now making a profit, but in the mean time, they are making the satellite phone industry competitive. Iridium charges outrageous amounts for making calls and their equipment is twice as much to buy up front. Inmarsat has gone way up in their service costs as Stephen pointed out. So because of Globalstar's problems they now offer unlimited service for $39.95/mo, that's cheaper than any cell phone service! And for the type of use that we're talking about, comparing it to an inReach, who cares if you get a dropped call, how long will it take you and how much will it cost you to type in text messages on your inReach that would be equivalent to a 5 min conversation on the sat phone?
I agree with you that Globalstar's service plans will go up as their service improves. As I stated in my previous post, their service now appears to provide coverage for any given area about 70% of the time. That seems pretty good for $39.95/mo. They are also launching and activating more satellites this year and their coverage will only improve and should be better than 80% later this year. So at any rate, back to my original contention, why buy a half pound inReach and pay $10/mo to barely be able to use it, or $25/mo to be able to use it for 40 text messages, or $50/mo for 120 text messages, when you can get a sat phone for $39.95/mo with unlimited calling and text? That was the point I was trying to make.Jun 2, 2012 at 10:07 pm #1883435
As a Spot Connect owner, I thought I'd mention that I do not have to purchase a messaging bundle to send custom emails etc. Spot charges me 50 cents a message (no subscription, I just register a charge card). You also get 5 free custom messages with with your subscription).
The Spot Connect app on my iPhone (syncs with Spots website) also adds a lot of flexability to the pre-composed messages that I can send. With 14 different messages to choose from and 10 pre-configured contact groups (email groups, facebook and text messaging), I think it provides a great value since the 14 pre-composed messages is included in the base fee ($100). These messages cover most bases for me and at $.50 for an occasional custom message it's pretty reasonable.Jun 2, 2012 at 11:09 pm #1883449
And it's almost half the weight and size of the inReach.Jun 4, 2012 at 2:35 am #1883789
I opened up the inReach looking for the lead sinker, but didn't find any good reason for the weight. I couldn't get everything separated, but it appears the case is built to be run over by a truck. My guess is the engineers didn't get a good set of parameters from marketing about hikers' desires. More likely they don't want any of these 'mission critical emergency devices' to come back broken. They do have military contracts…
To save the 3+ ounces, I have half a mind to pull the innards and put it in a loksack and while I'm at it, hook up a 6600mAh rechargeable. Not recommended, but just about every piece of gear of mine is modified in some manner, why stop with the electronics?
My bad on the Spot Connect. I had forgotten about it. I should've asked why anyone would ever consider the non-bluetooth units. But now having read the Connect manual, I see that the only buttons are power and SOS. So gone are I'mOK flashes and custom button B without a cell phone. OK, I didn;t much like them although stand alone operation is probably a good thing.
Another goofy thing is that the SOS and Assist modes prevent use of texts. So just when you would like to tell someone about your situation, the device locks you out. I do see that they recognized the severe limitation of the 2-button+SOS functionality by adding a bunch of other pre-written msgs you can select from. To me this all adds up to clumsiness. Compare that to straight 2-way texting by inReach.
One comparison (not entirely fair) is that with Connect you get only 40 1-way characters versus with inReach you get 160 2-way characters per text. So with ala carte pricing at $0.50/40 chars versus $1.50/160 chars, the inReach is cheaper. And you can hold a conversation. And you can communicate with other parties in the field similarly equipped.
My bad on the Globalstar Evolution II plan. I went to:
The date there shows it is no longer available, but it still is. Four more weeks and it won't be. That makes it LIMITED. (I'm sorry, was that too loud?) It truly is a great deal.
I looked to the cheapest available plans to compare what it takes to get into any of these three units. The premise being that they are not often used by most folks, so likely they want to pay as little as possible for what they get.
Pay $100/yr for 1-way texts.
Pay $120/yr for 2-way texts.
Pay $360/yr for voice.
I chose inReach 2-way because it is only $1.67 more per month than Spot 1-way and it is far more useful than the half a scone I gave up to pay the difference. But to get voice, I have to double the cap-ex and triple the op-ex? Ouch. Worth it if you want it, but you've really gotta want it.
The Globalstar unlimited plan is great if you use it a lot, but it is four times as expensive as the basic inReach. And if I was a professional in the field needing a satellite voice connection, I wouldn't consider it. There's a reason Inmarsat gets to charge what they do and that's because your calls will be dropped mid-conversation pretty much guaranteed using Globalstar.
And you must admit my poke at Globalstar's availability app needing an internet connected laptop was pretty witty.Jun 4, 2012 at 8:23 am #1883834
The costs you present don't really tell the whole picture. For one thing, you have a registration fee for the Inreach so add another $20 right off the top. The unit also costs about $100 more than a Spot Connect so that needs to be factored into your startup costs as well.
Although I like the idea that I could have 2-way communication if needed, the $10/month plan doesn't really give you much. It only includes 10 messages "per year" before the overages kick in (@ $1.50 per message), so less than 1 message a month included in their cheapest plan.
You also don't get any track points included in the $10/month fee with the Inreach and shockingly (to me anyway) they charge on a "per track point basis"!). I've added the $50 tracking option to my Spot Connect and that gives me unlimited tracking. The InReach tracking on the $10/month plan costs $.25 per point. At that rate, with the Inreach tracking charges, I'd pay over $50 for one multi-day hike (assuming the same level of tracking… 1 track point sent every 10 mins). The Inreach can be set to send a track point every four hours which would be cheaper but to me that would be like sending an "I'm OK" message from a Spot every four hours… not really a track point IMO when you consider the track points are going to be about 12 miles apart for the average hiker!
With a basic Spot Connect plan I can send unlimited pre-composed messages (total of 14 pre-composed messages to choose from) and can send custom messages for $.50.
Don't get me wrong, if I was a chatty guy and wanted to talk, the Inreach (or a Sat. phone) would be great… but I'm a typical guy… prefer a one way conversation, so the Spot works best for me. Weight is also a big factor for me.
I just didn't think your breakdown of the service plans was helpful for anybody that might be trying to make a decision on purchasing one of these units.Jun 4, 2012 at 10:41 am #1883876
@ Mike, I do think they are useful price comparisons.
I think there are three reasons for buying either Spot or inReach: SOS, HereIam, and coordination/communication.
If all you want is SOS, those PLBs are cheaper/more desirable? The other thread on Spot reviews seems to confirm that. Otherwise, on pure functionality, inReach has advantages for SOS: confirmation the SOS was received, 2-way texts for rescue coordination, peace of mind on the home front, etc… Sat phone is even better in this regard. On cost, the Spot is $120 + $100/yr, inReach is $270 w/activation + $120/yr. Satphone minimum service is way too expensive for just SOS usage.
HereIam comes in two flavors: occasional I'mOK or tracking. The first is free, but tracking adds costs, inReach is 2.5x the Spot per track. I think this is a hole in inReach marketing since I don't think anyone would really use either unit in this way – they would just buy into a package. inReach should be competitive for unlimited tracking ala carte.
There's no direct comparison for just adding tracking. You have to add texts as well and that's because inReach doesn't have just tracking. Another hole in their marketing, inReach doesn't offer unlimited tracking with ala carte texts.
And once you do add a text plan, they are different products. 2-way and 1-way just don't compare. But now the Spot Connect is $170 + $200/yr and inReach is $270 + $300/yr. (500 texts to be equivalent). So for $8.33/mo more, you get 2-way, 160 character texts rather than 1-way, 40 character texts, Spot being more flexible by allowing your 500 texts anytime during the year's plan.
I think it is entirely valid to compare the bare minimum SOS service costs and functionality as well as a full-featured services.Jun 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm #1883931
Thanks for providing the additional information. That's all I was wanting to see was a bit more info regarding the cost of the various inReach services. I think it's helpful to others that are trying to figure it all out.
In the end, I agree that your choice has to be based on the services that you really need. Cost isn't my primary concern, it's more the feature set and weight that I look for. If I was an off trail adventurer, I'd own a PLB or Sat phone. I'm more likely to use the SOS feature on my fishing trips than I am on my backpacking trips (more bush-whacking when fishing).
If the inReach was a bit lighter and had a better tracking plan, I would probably jump at it, as 2-way messaging would be nice to have. I really like the tracking feature of the Spot however, it's very poor send rate has left me wanted something better. It's nice to have choices and I keep hoping that competition will eventually get me what I want.Jun 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm #1885311
Just in time for my trip, deLorme doubles the battery life!
Now, always on tracking lasts 5.2 days! Longer than Spot!
"This latest firmware update is now downloadable from explore.delorme.com for inReach users with iOS and Android devices.
The most relevant benefit is the doubling of battery life for recommended lithium batteries, from 60 to 125; also noteworthy is support for both alkaline and rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries.
Tracking every 10 minutes
Standalone, not paired
Lithium: 125 hours
Alkaline: 72 hours
Nickel Metal Hydride (2300mAh) 75 hours"
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