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Monday, April 1, 2013

Spot II Personal Tracker


The Spot II personal Tracker has been on the market for a while now but after getting out into the wilderness last year and hiking through Yosemite with ZERO ability to call for help should the need arise, I decided that I would invest in a little bit of piece of mind.

There are a lot of TERRIBLE reviews for the Spot II but being as that very few people actually take the time to give things that work well a positive review, I went ahead and bought a unit used on Ebay.

Once I got the device I was happy to see just how small it actually was.  It easily fits into that palm of your hand and really takes up very little room and weight in a pack.  I just look at it as an extra piece of 1st aid gear.  The Spot II takes 4 AAA lithium batteries but the website claims that it should last a long time on standby, 19000 check-in/update messages, and like 72hrs on SOS.  More than enough to actually get the word out.

I activated the Spot II after having it forspring because you purchase in 1 year time frames.  The activation was simple and took maybe 10 minutes.  Just to activate and have functionality you need to purchase the $99/year plan that includes everything EXCEPT for tracking.  I chose to NOT get the tracking function because it only updates a spot eery 10 minutes and really there are TONS of apps for most smart phones that will track better for free.  I also opted for the $12 supplemental rescue insurance. This is a supplimental insureance policy that covers you up to $100,000 in search and Rescue costs.  So after it was all said and done, $112 for 1 year of service.

Spending the next 30 or so minutes looking through the website and customizing the messages and contacts so that when I press certain buttons it sends different messages to up to 10 contacts, via email or SMS.

Then it was time to take it out in the field and see what it had to offer.  Our first trip where I got to use it was on Mt. Baldy.  Once we got to the parking lot I decided to see if it worked.  I turned it in and sent a check-in/ok message.  I had set two of the contacts as my cellphone and my email so that I could see if I was getting the messages and if they had gone through.  Of course out in the Mountains there was no cell service so I could not see if I got the message. (later I once we got reception the messages came through).   Every message that I sent had made it that day.

There are reports of people who don't get the messages, or that they send them out and then they never get received.  Basically, I found that if you just leave the unit on and let it run its course, it sends just fine.  Dont worry about batteries and just leave the unit on while it sends the message.  There really is no indicator of a successful send unless it cannot get a GPS location.

Pros:
  1. light weight and small
  2. relatively small price for the cost.
  3. piece of mind for freinds and family and yourself
Cons:
  1. Not really clear at first until you use the devise for awhile
  2. Auto renew for service 

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