Sept 2010 Electronics Column Page 3

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Spot Messenger

Globalstar has introduced a second generation of its Spot satellite tracking and messaging device.

At 3.7 inches long, 2.6 inches wide, and 1-inch thick, the new Spot Messenger is about the size of a pack of cigarettes, and weighs just a little over 5 ounces. Despite being smaller and lighter than the original Spot Tracker, the new device includes a GPS receiver and a satellite communications terminal, and offers new functions and enhanced performance.

Like its predecessor, the Spot Messenger has dedicated push-buttons to send distress messages to search and rescue authorities such as the Coast Guard, or to send non-distress “help” messages to family or friends or to commercial assistance services such as BoatUS. The new version, however, has flip covers to protect these two “help” buttons against accidental operation.

Unlike an EPIRB or PLB, the original Spot also included an “I’m OK” function, intended purely to keep family and friends informed of your whereabouts. This has now been significantly enhanced, with the addition of a “Track” function that transmits a position report every ten minutes to create a “breadcrumb” trail of your movements on a dedicated personal Web page, and two message buttons that allow you to send two different, pre-programmed “I’m OK” messages. You could, for instance, use one to say “I’m OK” and one to say “Come and get me” or “We caught a fish.”

Spot Messenger has a list price of $169.99, with an annual service fee of $99.99.



This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.