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Fail: SPOT Messenger

SPOT

One of items I was sent for review in China that excited me most was the SPOT messenger – a unique device that receives a GPS signal to identify your position and then allows that to be re-broadcast via the SPOT satellite service with an ‘OK’, ‘non-emergency help’ or ’emergency help’ message.  It’s intended for use by people slightly more adventurous than me who venture away from mobile network coverage and want to send status messages or emergency requests for help.  Seems like a great idea and at £130, quite an affordable option.

Without access to the online control panel I set off to China and ran around Beijing and the Great Wall recording messages… back in the UK I finally gained access to the control panel.  Nothing.

Following the supplied instructions I gave it a clear line of sight into the sky again today for several hours and tried again to record a message.  Again nothing.

It might be me, it might be the unit, it might be the location(s)… I’ve no idea.  However, without any way to confirm from the device if a GPS lock has been achieved or whether any messages have been successfully sent it’s a ‘press and hope’ affair – all the right lights flashed at all the right times for me without a single message ever being recorded.  I certainly wouldn’t rely on it as a potential ‘life saving’ device as advertised.  Very disappointing.

To be fair to the manufacturers others have used it with some sucess, but in my testing it’s been too unreliable for me to recommend.  I’d suggest taking Adventure Trading Post up on their ‘try before you buy‘ offer if you’re interested in this kind of device.

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By Ben Smith

Ben is an expert on enterprise mobility and wireless data products. He has been a regular contributor to Mobile Industry Review since 2007 and is also editor of Wireless Worker.

6 replies on “Fail: SPOT Messenger”

SPOT seems to work okay in SOCAL USA
Just walked outside turned on the unit and pressed “Okay” button for 2 seconds. Came in the house and had a SPOT “okay” test message on my phone and one on the website.

Highway use seems to track good with occasional 20 minute dropouts. Used on my dirt bike in the desert last week, and worked okay, but there were a couple of 20 minute gaps in tracking (reports every 10 minutes).

Have to agree that it would be real nice to know if the messages were actually sent when I'm out in the desert.

Thanks Mule – I may have had a faulty unit… or it may be user error. We are talking to the SPOT guys to try and find out, but some for, of user feedback would be great.

Thanks Mule – I may have had a faulty unit… or it may be user error. We are talking to the SPOT guys to try and find out, but some for, of user feedback would be great.

spot works OK in most part of China, tested myself. some tricks when using spot otherwise you won't receive any msgs, call customer service, they will be glad to tell you how to use it properly.

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