Originally Posted by DRTBYK
Bummer about the Tracking access. I'm not sure what good the SPOT group think that service would be for anyone given the current access restrictions.
The Globalstar sat's are in geosynchronous orbits and if you look on their coverage map you will see that they certainly don't cover the globe. I believe I read somewhere that they are launching new sat's over the next two years that should help reliability and coverage. They are almost giving their phones and service plans away if you buy now with the expectation that it will work better three or four years from now.
As for the ability to send a message, I expect you will need "open sky" to get a good message out since they use the sideband services which I think are rather low power - although somewhat more reliable then their voice services.
I also have a concern about the GPS chip set being used in the SPOT. If it isn't one of the newer more sensitive variety like the SiRF StarIII, I think it will have the same issues with location lock as with the poor message transmission - SPOTty at best ...couldn't resist
Opening the web access to SPOTcasting (tracking) is something they are working to change very soon. Remember, that Check Ins and Helps are sent with links to Google Maps now.
Regarding getting messages out - I am purposefully trying to see the device limitations. I have good luck with SPOTcasting points being transmitted when I'm not in the forest or amongst other obstacles that greatly reduce my view to the horizon. Leaving a trail of SPOTcasts would be very helpful in a rescue, even if the actual location of an incident challenged getting your distress message out. Your friends or family back at home would at least have a "trail" of points to use if they decided time had gone by and you needed help. To me, that's probably a good strategy for using the thing in challenging areas when you are by yourself. When you're with another, I think it's pretty likely the uninjured person could move to more open area quickly and get the distress signal out quickly.
GPS signal - the LEDs flash out of unison when the GPS is not getting lock. I have rarely seen this occur. I'd have to say that GPS lock is less of an issue than getting messages out - at least from what I am seeing so far.
TomW - the SPOT rep tells me that the view to the horizon should not be biased towards the southern unless I am at more northern latitudes - I am at Lake Tahoe now. Nevertheless, so far, it sure seems south is more important than the other cardinal directions.