The latest addition to the growing line-up of Spot’s pocket satcoms is called Spot Connect and, in the words of Spot’s own sales pitch—“it turns your smartphone into a satellite communicator.” Less than three inches square, 1.2 inches thick, and weighing less than five ounces, it has a built-in GPS and will connect to almost any iPhone or Android smartphone through a Bluetooth link. The phone then becomes the control panel for the device, giving it access to all of the established Spot functions, including an SOS alert that will be relayed to search-and-rescue authorities and a preprogrammed “Help” or “I’m OK” message that can be forwarded to friends or family.
The thing that makes Spot Connect so much more attractive than the original is that the phone connection allows you to type and send short (very short—as in only 41 characters) e-mails or text messages. You’re not going to run a business with it, but for the Facebook and Twitter generation, it could be a social lifeline. The big drawback is that it can only send messages—it can’t receive them. (Well, maybe that does fit with the Facebook-Twitter generation!)
The list price is $169.99 (corresponding to actual retail prices of about $150 if you shop around) with service charges starting at $99 per year and messages costing between 10 and 50 cents each depending on the airtime package you choose.
This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.