by Martin Hackworth
Photos: Martin Hackworth
If I can build and install a pacemaker in this man's chest, well I can damn well bounce a microwave off a satellite...
We have been big fans of
SPOT technology since we
acquired our first SPOT II
Satellite GPS Messenger a couple
of years ago and had to field
shortly thereafter. Every SPOT device that we've had a chance to
evaluate (all of them) have been everything they are cracked up to be
- and SPOT customer service is just outstanding.
When we got wind of the SPOT Connect earlier this year we were ready to trade up. The Connect solves the only issue that we had with all previous SPOT units - a lack of flexibility in uploading messages. Our SPOT II came with the ability to upload two predefined messages to your contact list. This limited ability to communicate with those on one's contact list resulted in all kinds of signaling schemes where a certain number of messages back to back meant that you were in some situation not anticipated by your prefabbed communiques. The SPOT Connect solves that problem by pairing with any Android smart phone or iPhone via Bluetooth so that one may create and upload unlimited short messages (41 character limit) or select any predefined messages (120 character limit) for distribution via SMS txt, email or social media. We recently asked our friends at Pocatello Power Sports to order us up a Connect and when it arrived recently we set about determining if it was up to speed. It is.
The Connect is capable of functioning as a standalone device in the event of an emergency with a single "SOS" button that is well protected from accidental use. The track progress feature also works without the phone having to remain on after being activated (you can also turn off your phone, to preserve battery life, after sending a message to Connect). All of the other features of the SPOT II are embedded in the smart phone app that we downloaded for our HTC Sensation from the Android Market. Deactivating our SPOT II, activating the Connect, and migrating our data through the SPOT website required no more than 15 minutes.
of use the only real issue we've encountered with the SPOT
Connect is battery life - which is dismal. Our SPOT II would
days and days in any weather before having to replace its three lithium
AAA batteries. The red light battery warning on our Connect began
flashing after two days (at least
the batteries are
lithium AA). We did use the tracking feature at all times and
weather during our test was cold. Under those conditions two days seems
to be the limit for battery life and we would not
heading out without spares. Though the footprint of the Connect is
smaller than the
SPOT II, it's thicker and too bulky for most pockets. The clip,
however, has a more tenacious grip than a snapping turtle and we rode
for days with
confidence before crafting a backup lanyard.
We are very happy with the SPOT Connect. The flexibility to send as many messages required in order to perfectly describe our dire straits is well worth the sacrifice in battery life. We highly recommend purchasing the SPOT replacement insurance for any SPOT device.
Price Paid: $150.00 - Pocatello Power Sports
The Good: Can describe to your friends, 41 characters at a time, exactly how much your broken femur hurts.
The Rad: Justifies our purchase of a zillion dollar smart phone.
The Gnarly: Dammit Scotty, I need more power.