April 12, 2011
By Ian J. Twombly
If you thought the original SPOT devices were great, SPOT Connect is going to blow you away.
The original SPOT, used for tracking loved ones and search and rescue if things went badly, was simply a GPS chip linked to a satellite network. SPOT Connect takes that concept much further, allowing users to turn their smartphones into a satellite communicator.
The process is fairly simple. It requires the device, a subscription, and a free phone application. Activate the unit, which is about three inches square, download the application, and you are on your way. The SPOT Connect features all the same things as the previous SPOT units, including two types of tracking, a help button, and an SOS button. But it adds the ability to communicate with friends and loved ones back home with text messages, emails, and even social network support.
The device retails for $169.99, and a year subscription is $99.99. Text messaging and email isn’t cheap, however. It’s anywhere from 10 cents to 50 cents per message depending on the plan. Currently, both iPhone and Android applications are available.
Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
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