I finally had to replace my old SPOT 1 satellite messenger.
For those of you who are not familiar with the SPOT, it’s a one-way satellite communication device. Turn it on and it locks onto GPS satellite signals. You can then send messages back into the civilized world. With the new SPOT 2, you can send 4 different types of messages:
- If you are in a life-threatening situation, you push one button to activate a global 911 network and search-and-rescue will come running.
- Have an injury or your bike breaks down and you need help, but it’s not so desperate that you want to call 911? You can send a pre-written message to your emergency contacts via email or text and have them come get you or send for non-emergency assistance.
- If you just want to keep in touch, SPOT lets you create two different pre-written messages to send to friends, family and contacts. This is the feature I use the most; I use one message to tell everyone that I’m okay and give them my lat-longitude coordinates and the other to let them know I’ve arrived safely at my day’s final destination.
The beauty of it is, this all works via satellite so even with no cell service you can still keep your friends and family in the loop. In addition, you can subscribe to the tracking feature which allows them to track your progress in near real time using Google Maps.
Now as you may have read in one of my earlier posts, my SPOT unit fell off my bike. Well, it fell off again D’oh! and once again I lucky enough to recover it. But after the second fall, it started working very erratically. I figured it was time to send it in for repair; when I contacted SPOT, I learned that there is no repair service available on these things (disappointing, I know). Regardless, I ended up buying the new and improved SPOT 2.
Here’s the differences I’ve observed between the SPOT 1 and SPOT 2:
- Appears to have a better GPS receiver; it definitely locks on to the GPS signal quicker and sends messages out faster
- Smaller and 6oz. lighter
- Customizable message function in addition to OK, Help, and 911
- Covered 911 and Help buttons so they can’t be turned on accidentally
- GPS Status and Message Sent indicators lights
- Comes with a removable stretchy cover (but don’t rely on this to hold it securely, mine is already tearing!)
- Uses 3 lithium AAA batteries. The older one took 2 lithium AA’s
SPOT 2 isn’t exactly cheap. At $150 (street price), plus $100 a year service fee, and the optional $50 additional subscription fee for tracking. You’re going to think twice about whether you need it or not. Well, here’s my take: After two years of use, I use my SPOT as an additional layer of safety and as a way for my family and friends to follow along on my rides (via tracking) as well as a way to send messages that I’m still alive and kicking. I’ve come to rely on the peace of mind SPOT gives us.