My Spot Connect arrived from gpscity.ca in Calgary a couple of days ago and I thought I’d share some initial impressions and try to answer any questions curious and interested fellow-paddlers might have. I got the Spot for this summer’s Wabakimi canoe trip and this October’s hiking/climbing trip in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real.
What does it do?
The Spot Connect is meant for those off-the grid adventures where cellphone coverage has been left far behind. It has all of the features of a Spot GPS Messenger but can be paired with a smartphone running Apple iOS or Android iOS . If you are not familiar with the Spot GPS Messenger click on this link- http://www.findmespot.ca/en/index.php?cid=102
The Spot Connect info page http://www.findmespot.ca/en/index.php?cid=116
lists the smartphones which are compatible - my iPod Touch 4G makes it. (Right now Blackberry and Windows smartphones are out of luck.)
• Apple iOS:
Made for iPod touch® (2nd, 3rd and 4th
generation), iPhone® 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G*
• Apple iOS: ...This is I am quite sure a typo and
should read Android iOS
Platform 2.0 or later*
Once you have have installed the appropriate Spot Connect app and paired your smartphone via bluetooth with the Sport Connect and , you can now use your smartphone keyboard to type and send customizable messages of up to 41 characters from wherever you happen to be. This is, of course, on top of all the other features available to the Spot GPS Messenger.
How much does all this cost?
1. the initial cost of a smartphone that does Apple iOS
or Android 2.0 or +
2. the Spot Connect itself - $180. (including tax)
3. the Basic Service Plan- $100. a year (auto renewed!)
I added the Track Progress feature for $50 a year
and the Type and Send Messages- 100 messages
So, all told, it comes out to $360. for a year which may seem like an extravagance until that one instance when you really need it. Next year the cost comes down to $180. as I will only need to renew (or rather, forget to cancel!) the service package.
Some additional costs to consider- extra batteries if you are out there for a while. I plan on taking 3 extra sets. Also, I bought an external 5000 mAh lithium battery (google ‘Richard Solo’) for my iPod Touch (930 mAh) which should provide me with five recharges for the iPod in the field. I’ll find out in the next few weeks if it will actually recharge my ipod that often.
Yesterday I did a bit of cycling along the Lake Ontario shore from the Beaches area of Toronto west to Port Credit, mostly via Lakeshore Blvd. Before I left I ducktaped the Sport Connect to my handlebar. Then I turned on the Track Progress feature and set off. This feature allows others to follow your progress on-line in almost real time by making use of a Spot-related web site where the way points are posted every ten minutes while the feature is enabled. The Spot web site describes it like this http://www.findmespot.com/en/index.php?cid=111
Check out here to see the results of my bike trip-http://share.findmespot.com/shared/face ... RzGML07Isu
My first test with the Spot was good but not perfect (novice user, natch!) The way points do not start or end where they should- the tracking only started maybe 15 minutes into the ride and the end point was not recorded, only the point less than 10 minutes from the end. The stretch across Humber Bay sure looks funny; maybe tracking a canoe moving at one quarter the speed of the bike will eliminate such oddities. When I got to the turn-around point at Port Credit Bridge I used the “type and send” feature to send a customized email message back home; it arrived almost instantly.
All in all, I am impressed with my new techno toy. You can look at the Spot Connect from different angles: safety and security, peace of mind of those at home knowing all is well thanks to messages created in the field, and live-time progress tracking... I think it was a good investment and look forward to putting it to use in as many off-the-grid adventures as I have the time to get to. Maybe in ten years even our boreal forest will have cell phone coverage and the Spot Connect’s GPS capabilities won’t be needed. Until then- my Spot will do the job.
The following link is the pdf file of the Spot Connect manual- http://faq.findmespot.com/index.php?act ... &data=1297