Spot X is a great 2-way satellite messaging option that has the potential to be a life-saving product for backcountry adventurers
Spot is a leading provider of satellite messaging and emergency notification technologies, and aims to make adventuring safer for outdoor enthusiasts. Spot has helped initiate over 9,000 rescues worldwide since 2007. The products work completely independent of cellular coverage to keep users in contact with family and friends during excursions.
Spot X (which retails for $249.99) provides 2-way satellite messaging when you are beyond areas of reliable cellular coverage. Users can connect Spot X to a smart phone through Bluetooth wireless technology using the Spot X app to access your contacts and communicate easily with family and friends. It can also directly communicate with Search and Rescue services in a life-threatening situation. Spot X can also be used as a standalone communication device when necessary. The Spot X has its own dedicated U.S. mobile number, so others can message it at any time.
Athletech News decided to try out Spot X during outdoor adventures to see how it fared.
Spot X can provide peace-of-mind in dangerous situations, as loved ones are just a message away. The product’s standalone nature is unique among similar offerings, as it does not require a mobile phone service. It works well in the backcountry, from where one could send SMS and e-mail messages to any phone number or e-mail address worldwide. The device has a real qwerty keyboard, so sending longer messages is an easy option.
One interesting feature was the “fetch rate” of the device, which is the frequency at which the device checks to see if there are incoming messages. The shortest interval is 2.5 minutes. This customizability and ability to manually check for incoming messages at any time is a helpful feature.
Other notable features were that the screen and keyboard can be backlit, which is useful in the dark. You can also share tracking points with others, so family and followers can track your movements through Spot X. The device is also fully waterproof, and sustained full submersion underwater.
Perhaps most importantly, Spot X has the functionality to easily send an S.O.S. distress call to emergency services. This sends your location to a dispatch agency to secure local rescue resources, which has the potential to be a life-saving call for many adventurers in the backcountry.
Spot X is also reasonably priced: its one of the cheapest 2-way satellite messaging devices, with standard-priced service plans.
Although this may be common among satellite communication products, messages take several minutes—sometimes up to around ten minutes—to be sent and received. The variation occurred on days where the product was used during partly cloudy weather, in a busy city street and in mountainous areas.
Another potential downside to the device is that the antenna generally needs to be pointed straight at the sky to deliver messages. It may even be best to pause your hike, stand or prop the device up against a rock and wait for the message to be delivered.
In addition, you can only have a maximum of three messages queued up to be sent. For the safety purposes of the device, this should not be an issue for most users, but for those looking to use this in a more casual communicative manner, the limit could be frustrating.
Spot X also requires charging, as opposed to replaceable batteries. Lastly, the device is a bit bulky, as it weighs around 7 ounces with batteries, which could be frustrating for adventurers sensitive to their pack weight.
Spot X is a potentially lifesaving device that can send and receive messages even in remote regions. For those expecting the device to work similarly to a phone, it does not—but that should be expected due to the technological differences between satellite messaging and mobile phones on an LTE network. With some patience for the length of time it takes to send messages, Spot X helps adventurers stay safe and enjoy the backcountry with peace of mind.