MatysOnBoard is a little like Spot, as it uses a satphone system's SMS facilities—in this case, Iridium's—to send one-button-push distress messages as well as other short messages and automated tracking positions to a dedicated call center. But this device is at the other end of the spectrum in terms of additional features and cost. It is a fixed system designed to be powered up throughout a voyage, has high-performance external antennas, and, being two way, is able to quickly notify the user when any particular message has reached the call center, as shown. Very comforting! The $4,425 model tested (plus $780/year and minutes) also included an Iridium voice/data modem as well as a GSM/GPRS cellular modem able to provide less-costly per-minute voice/data along many coasts. Thus I could use the included Uniden waterproof cordless handset to make or take either cell- or satphone calls. Neither service is fast enough for Web surfing, but using the excellent wireless-optimized Xgate software from MatysOnBoard partner Global Marine Networks made e-mail easy and fast. Overall this communicator is powerful, but there are still some issues with U.S. distribution and a global call center, which I'll follow up on at my blog Panbo.
This article originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.