The coolest feature ( and the reason I actually bought it ) was for the
“Tracking” mode. The SPOT website, lets you set up specific web pages that your
friends/family can access to actually see where you are and can get the GPS
coordinates. The website uses Google Earth to track where you are so the amount
of detail is quite amazing.
Tracking is activated by just pressing and holding the OK button for around 3 seconds. SPOT will send signals every ten minutes until the feature is turned off. The signal is bounced back to SPOTs website and a data point/flag is placed on the map. You can get the GPS coordinates as well as other information from each of the data points/flags.
The tracking mode provides piece of mind for friends & family by letting them know and track where you are, but it can also be used in case you get lost. I was on a cross country trip when I lost my bearings and no idea which way was north. The paper maps didn't help either. I pulled out my cell phone and called home to ask my wife to look up where I was by looking at the webpage I had set-up. Couple minutes later I was on my way in the right direction again. The detailed Google Earth images are detailed enough that she could tell me that around the next turn was the landmark I was looking for.
SPOT is a great tool at a reasonable cost. It's easy to operate and is very durable and well built. There are some considerations to using the unit that you should be aware of.
The unit should always be placed so the logo on the unit has
a clear view of the sky. But, I've put it in the glove compartment of our
car, in the TourPak of my bike and also clipped to the visor of our jeep and
it's always worked practically flawlessly. It will miss signals if it
happens to try and transmit when the sky is too obstructed (buildings,
trees, tunnels etc) or if it's facing the wrong way. I'm told that the
traditional GPS units have the same issues though.
The unit will float, but is not self-righting.
There is an annual basic subscription cost for the unit and
an additional fee for the tracking feature (see the website). There are
periodic deals for this though.
It's designed to use Lithium batteries, which are pretty
expensive right now. It will work on regular alkaline batteries, but there's
some debate over whether or not they hinder performance, and they certainly
don't last as long. I've been using the included batteries since June, and
they're still working fine.
There are a pile of accessories from other vendors showing up. Different mounts, skins, cases etc.
There are lots sources for information on the web for SPOT. Here a few to check out:
Want some fun? Put in the wife's car or kids car and don't tell them. Then ask them how the mall was or question why they took the route they did. The looks are priceless!!!!!
4x4 Off-Road Homestead Firearms RC Flying