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SPOT X Two-Way Satellite Messenger Review

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The SPOT X is a two-way satellite tv for pc messenger that may ship and obtain SMS messages and emails with family and friends or search and rescue providers anyplace on the planet. It’s a huge step ahead from SPOT’s Gen three satellite tv for pc communicator that would solely ship SOS or pre-defined textual content messages, however couldn’t have a two-way dialog with recipients to find out if despatched messages been acquired or not. The SPOT X (weight 6.7 oz) additionally has different features together with monitoring, a digital compass, GPS waypoint navigation, and social media sharing of your GPS coordinates on Fb and Twitter.

Ease of Use

GPS Monitoring


Battery Life

Search and Rescue

Navigation Instruments


Smartphone App

Satellite Community Protection

Not Prepared for Prime Time

The SPOT X shouldn’t be prepared for prime time and I can not advocate this system to anybody. It is troublesome to make use of, it is buggy, unreliable, and never properly documented.

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However the SPOT X doesn’t fairly reduce it in my ebook as a result of the consumer interface is tough to make use of and supplies little suggestions to let you already know if the system is doing what you’ve commanded it to do. With endurance, you will get the SPOT X to perform near spec, however the studying curve is steep and there are some main pitfalls alongside the best way.

Let’s take a better take a look at this new system and you may determine for your self if it’s value shopping for.

Subscription Plans

The SPOT X requires a subscription plan to make use of, along with the one-time system buy worth.  SPOT X presents two totally different service subscription choices (click on for itemizing). You’ll be able to select both a month-to-month Flex Plan or an Annual contract plan, with a number of service tiers obtainable in every.  The most important distinction between the tiers are the variety of ad-hoc messages you possibly can ship per 30 days or the frequency during which monitoring pings the satellite tv for pc to report your present location. Flex Plans are greatest for seasonal use and solely require a one-month subscription. Annual plans are good for yr ’spherical use by outside junkies with an added advantage of month-to-month cost.

SPOT X Web Portal and Account SettingsSPOT X Net Portal and Account Settings

Net Portal

The SPOT X requires entry to an internet site to activate the system, enter emergency contacts, and specify pre-defined messages so that you don’t should sort them each time you ship a check-in replace. You want to have the ability to synch this info to your SPOT X utilizing a USB cable related your pc each time you replace this info (together with system software program updates), utilizing both a Macintosh or a Home windows pc. You’ll be able to’t use a telephone to do it nevertheless, because the synchronization software requires a pc to run.

SPOT X User Interface and KeyboardSPOT X Consumer Interface and Keyboard

Consumer Interface

SPOT selected to develop a brand new consumer interface for the X with its personal feel and appear so they might make a standalone gadget, with out offering customers the choice to make use of an easier, extra acquainted consumer interface like a Smartphone related utilizing Bluetooth. Whereas SPOT does supply an app for obtain, it could actually’t be used to regulate the SPOT X gadget or work together with it, so it’s fairly nugatory.

SPOT Directional PadSPOT Directional Pad

The SPOT consumer interface is uncooked and inconsistent, which is what you’d anticipate in a primary launch on a brand new gadget. It’s principally a set of icons that allow you to navigate up and down via a hierarchical menu system, pointing at totally different choices utilizing a directional pad with a selector button on the center. Nevertheless, the navigation mechanism is jerky and sometimes jumps to a special menu merchandise than the one you meant. Crucial button on the interface is the “back” button so you will get again to the earlier interface merchandise and check out once more.

When you choose a top-level merchandise utilizing the directional pad, you by no means actually understand how the SPOT X goes to react. Some instructions just like the Examine-in button  create icons within the prime standing bar to point out you that they’ve been initiated, like a examine mark in a waypoint icon, footprints to let you recognize that monitoring has been turned on, or an inbox with a quantity in it to let you understand that new messages have arrived for. However there’s no visible notification or audible beep to inform you that no matter command you’ve triggered has truly accomplished and the standing bar icons are fairly troublesome to see as a result of they’re so small. Some instructions are additionally mysteriously delayed and undocumented standing messages are displayed on the display as an alternative.

A cryptic undocumented status messageA cryptic undocumented standing message

The entrance of a SPOT X has a full QWERTY keyboard like a blackberry, however the keys are tiny. I’ve the nimble and skinny fingers of a violinist (fiddler, truly) and even I mistype characters as a result of the keys are so small. Whereas the keyboard is sensible sufficient to capitalize letters originally of sentences, there are specific characters, just like the “@” that may solely be entered into address-specific fields should you enter a particular, undocumented mode the place the particular character keys work. Significantly?

There are two methods to activate an SOS MessageThere are two strategies to activate an SOS Message

SOS Messages

The SPOT X supplies the power to ship SOS message to rescuers in an emergency alongside together with your GPS location. There are two methods to activate an SOS message. The primary is a pink button, protected towards unintentional activation, behind a devoted door on the entrance of the unit. The second is top-level consumer interface merchandise on the backside proper of the entrance display, which could be very straightforward to pick accidentally utilizing the jittery consumer interface. Whereas it requires a second interface choice to activate a rescue, and there’s an adjoining button to cancel it instantly, I can’t fathom why this merchandise isn’t equally protected behind a bodily panel. My recommendation, watch out to maintain this system away from young children who wish to press buttons otherwise you’re more likely to have a helicopter land at your campsite unexpectedly.

Verify-in Messages

More often than not, you’ll in all probability ship family members check-in messages to allow them to know the place you’re and that you simply’re okay. Referred to as predefined messages, you must outline these within the Net Portal and obtain to your Spot X unit utilizing the SPOT synchronization software and a USB cable.

Right here’s an instance of a typical check-in message.

Sample Check-in MessagePattern Examine-in Message

SMS Messages and E-mail

It’s also possible to ship and obtain un-canned (not predefined) SMS messages or E mail messages by way of satellite tv for pc utilizing the SPOT X. Once you activate a SPOT X, you additionally get a devoted cell phone quantity so individuals can ship SMS messages to it from anyplace on the planet. This consists of telephone spam and undesirable messages. The Spot X net portal features a setting that allow you to white-list the telephone numbers of a small set of individuals, so that you’re not bothered with spam messages utilizing the system.

SMS messages are usually despatched promptly from the SPOT X and recipients can reply in flip. E mail message supply is way much less predictable and usually a lot slower, starting from 16 to 30 minutes for every message that you simply ship. The reason being that the SPOT X sends three copies of your message to their mail server for redundancy to ensure that your message is acquired by their mail server. Your SPOT X gadget should stay on whereas the repeated sends happen. You’ll be able to examine periodically to see whether or not the messages have been acquired by the SPOT mail server by taking a look at icons subsequent to your outbound message listing, however you’ll be able to’t inform whether or not they’ve been acquired by their meant recipients.

E-mail recipients can reply to messages that you’ve despatched, however all e mail messages have a hard and fast character restrict of 140 characters. Individuals can solely reply to your emails. They will’t provoke an e mail thread as a result of your SPOT X doesn’t have a devoted e mail handle.

Ad hoc (not pre-defined) email messages are limited to 140 characters. While recipients can respond to email messages, they cannot initiate them since the SPOT X does not have an email address. Advert hoc (not pre-defined) e mail messages are restricted to 140 characters. Whereas recipients can reply to e-mail messages, they can’t provoke them because the SPOT X doesn’t have an e-mail handle.

The SPOT X additionally does a curious factor if somebody sends you a message and also you’re offline for greater than 72 hours. It deletes the messages, which is a really odd factor to do. E mail is meant to be a “reliable” messaging system that shops messages on a mail server indefinitely, till they’re downloaded by an e mail reader.

“While SPOT X is powered off or has not communicated with the SPOT Satellite Network, incoming messages will not be delivered to your device. All incoming messages will be queued for up to 72 hours from the time they were sent and will only be delivered if your SPOT X device turns back on within that time period. After 72 hours, if the SPOT X device has not powered on, all queued messages will be deleted permanently and will not be delivered to your SPOT X device.”

This isn’t e-mail as we all know it…it’s SPOTTY e-mail. My suggestion can be to keep away from utilizing the advert hoc e-mail features on the SPOT X and solely use its SMS capabilities, as a result of they’re far quicker and dependable.

The SPOT X lets you share tracking data with friends or family. The SPOT X permits you to share monitoring knowledge with buddies or household.


The SPOT X has a monitoring functionality that allows you to document your present location at set interfaces throughout a visit. That is useful if individuals need to examine in your progress throughout a visit otherwise you need to doc that you simply took a sure route. The monitoring intervals obtainable are each 2.5, 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes and the frequency might rely upon the service plan you’ve chosen. Frequent monitoring makes use of up your battery greater than much less frequent monitoring, which could be a consideration when you’re making an attempt to protect energy. To share a monitor with family and friends, you ship them a hyperlink to a SPOT Share Web page (proven above), which provides them a digital breadcrumb path of your journey. My spouse actually likes this function…


The SPOT X has a rudimentary navigation functionality that has a digital compass, enables you to document journey statistics, or enter an inventory of waypoints and navigate to them on as-the-crow-flies bearings. There’s no method to specify these waypoints graphically on the system itself  and you have to sort of their lat/lons by hand. I’d advocate that you simply maintain utilizing no matter Smartphone GPS app or GPS gadget you’re already utilizing as an alternative of the navigation performance included within the SPOT X as a result of it’s so primitive.

The SPOT X navigation capabilities are inferior to the Gaia GPS navigation appThe SPOT X navigation capabilities are inferior to the Gaia GPS navigation app or any current Garmin GPS system which incorporates maps.

Battery Life

Battery life on the SPOT X is immediately proportional to how a lot you employ it. In case you solely activate the system to ship check-in messages a few times a day, the battery will final for a lot of days. However should you flip up the monitoring frequency to each 2.5 minutes, you’ll burn by way of a battery cost in a day.

Recharging the unit is one other problem totally. In two weeks of close to fixed use, I used to be by no means capable of absolutely recharge the unit from a handheld battery pack utilizing the USB cable, even throughout all-night-long charging makes an attempt. The one method I might recharge the SPOT X was to plug it right into a wall and let it cost in a single day. You’ll undoubtedly need to carry a battery in case you use the SPOT X on prolonged journeys and in the event you use the monitoring functionality.


The SPOT X isn’t prepared for prime time and I can’t advocate this gadget to anybody. It’s troublesome to make use of, it’s buggy, and never nicely documented. This product can be so a lot better it was only a streamlined satellite-based two-way SMS (solely) messaging system with an SOS functionality, pre-defined messages, advert hoc textual content messaging, and monitoring, that didn’t require a pc to activate and use. I feel SPOT underestimated how troublesome it’s to implement a brand new graphical consumer interface from scratch on proprietary hardware. They’ve additionally missed the boat in not integrating the gadget with Smartphones, which have grow to be the defacto single gadget that the majority backcountry customers and vacationers need to use as an alternative of a proprietary unit.

In case you’ve been tempted by the decrease worth of the SPOT X, I’d encourage you to take a tough take a look at the Garmin inReach Two-way Mini Satellite Communicator as an alternative. The inReach Mini is far simpler to study and use, absolutely examined and documented, and sends messages quicker and extra reliably regardless of being barely greater priced. See my current Garmin InReach Mini Review for extra a extra detailed evaluation of its options.

Examine 2 Costs

Final up to date: 2018-07-09 21:07:38

SPOT offered the writer with a loaner unit for this evaluate. Revealed 2018.

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