Adventure Tech: SPOT X Two-Way Satellite Communicator

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Last week I shared the news that Garmin had introduces the new inReach Mini satellite communicator, and now we have another entry into this category. After not releasing much in the way of new products over the past couple of years, SPOT has returned with a vengeance, this time bringing a two-way communications device to the masses at long last.

The new SPOT X device add a keyboard and a screen to a SPOT tracker for the very first time. This gives users the ability to send messages to any cell phone or e-mail address on the planet and greatly extended the possibilities for communicating from remote places. Previously, SPOT devices could only send short, pre-determined messages to preset numbers and addresses, but this new model is much more versatile in that regard.

Looking at the SPOT coverage map however, the two-way messaging is limited to North and South America, Europe, and most of Africa. The Middle East, Asia, and Australia do not receive two-way coverage, but can still send one-way messages. That means if you plan to use this at Everest Base Camp, don’t plan on receiving incoming messages on your way up the mountain.

As with other SPOT devices, the X allows for GPS tracking while in the field, giving friends and family back home the ability to follow along with your adventures. It also has a digital compass to aid with navigation, the ability to send brief “check-in” messages to let others know you’re alright, and the option to share location data and messages to social media too. This being a SPOT device, it can also send out an SOS alert should the user run into trouble in a remote location.

The new SPOT X is priced very affordably at $249.99. That makes it one of the most affordable satellite communications devices on the market today, with monthly service plans starting at about $19.99. The one downside is that the device uses the Globalstar network, which doesn’t offer quite as much coverage as say the Iridium network, which extended all the way to the Poles. Still, for most people, the SPOT will cover what they want to do, and its low-cost of entry will aid in making it an indispensable safety net for those who wander off the beaten path.

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Kraig Becker