Spot X vs inReach SE+

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by John F, Jun 21, 2018.

  1. John F

    John F Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Oddometer:
    333
    Location:
    South Windsor, CT
    I've been looking at these two devices, and I think I'm leaning toward the inReach because of the service plans. I really only need a satellite ELT maybe 1.5-2 weeks per year. The rest of the time I have cell coverage 99+% of the time and my phone works fine for everything. I can't see spending $200/year for service I need less than two weeks. But I could see spending $35 for a month of service only when I do need it.

    The Spot appears to have full year plans minimum, while the inReach has monthly plans. It looks like if I only activate the inReach one month per year I come out ahead.

    With inReach, is it really that easy/reliable to activate a dormant device? Can I go onto the Garmin website, pay the piper, and have reliable full service with a fully activated device that's been sitting in my drawer dormant for the past 11 months, and have it go dormant a month later (assuming I don't select auto-renewal)? And do this year after year? If so, it looks like the inReach is a no-brainer.

    Plus, with the really basic Spot (the Gen3), is that one a "transmit only" device? If you send an "I'm OK" or an SOS, do you get any feedback that the message has been received? I kind of like the two-way communications of the Spot X and inReach SE+.
    #1
  2. NorskieRider

    NorskieRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,060
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Isn't there also a difference in which satellites the two systems use?
    #2
  3. John F

    John F Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Oddometer:
    333
    Location:
    South Windsor, CT
    Yep.. Spot uses Globalstar while inReach uses Iridium.

    Is there any functional difference between these two satellite systems (anything that would make a difference to the end user)?
    #3
  4. bicyclenut

    bicyclenut Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    159
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs, IL
    With the InReach it is easy to turn on and off. As I recall you pay and extra $25 a year but you can just go and turn the service off and on as needed from the website. When you turn it back on you can do a test to make sure still working. Turn it off over the winter or 11 months of the year if you only need it for one trip.

    [​IMG]


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    #4
  5. John F

    John F Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Oddometer:
    333
    Location:
    South Windsor, CT
    Awesome! I think the inReach SE+ is it. A little sweet talking of the wife, and I'll probably order it this weekend. Thanks.
    #5
  6. bicyclenut

    bicyclenut Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    159
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs, IL
    Depending on what you are looking for, check the InReach Mini also. I am switching as I wanted something smaller that will fit in a pocket and has just a smaller size. Lacks the screen size and more button pushing to do some things but you can also do much of that from phone app if needed. Most important is to have it on my person if an accident to signal SOS and by being smaller more easy to keep on me rather than mount on bike or in case.

    I have GPS devices so I don’t need these integrated into my SOS device. Just an additional thought.

    Mine arrives Friday.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    #6
  7. cug

    cug -- Super Supporter

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Oddometer:
    6,728
    Location:
    Sunny California
    I was going back and forth between these systems as well, with the added option of a Spot 3 I still had here. In the end, the Spot 3 won. Yeah, I'm paying for a yearly plan, but I need it for about 3 to 4 weeks, spread over 3 or 4 months, I already have the device which also is about 1/3 (Spot X) or 1/2 (InReach) the size of the others.

    It would have taken me about 4 or 5 years to get even with the cost of the device factored in, so I decided that by then, technology will be so much better, I'd rather get something new then.

    Just food for thought.
    #7
  8. John F

    John F Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Oddometer:
    333
    Location:
    South Windsor, CT
    Other than the physical interface, does the Mini lack any of the capabilities of the SE+? Once the Mini is paired with my iPhone, can I text directly from the phone? (i.e. does the phone app have a virtual keyboard like the iOS messaging app? Or do I need to do a lot of right-right-down-select, down-down-left-select on the Mini to tap out a message. I too have multiple GPS devices with me in the back country. I really don't need another map display. With this new device I'm just looking for SOS capability, and if the two-way texting isn't too expensive (with the inReach products it sounds like it's not) I'd like that too. It'd be nice to be able to tell the wife something other than a canned "I'm OK", and if there's a family emergency it'd be nice if she could get me a message. I certainly like the form factor of the Mini better.
    #8
  9. bicyclenut

    bicyclenut Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    159
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs, IL
    You can connect with the Garmin Mini via Bluetooth and use your phone to type messages, this is what I have read and seen in the past with the SE I have. It is the Garmin Earthmate that works with the unit and as I recall you can use the App for some GPS functions as well.

    Here is a YouTube Review that may be helpful.



    App syncs with InReach units, see screenshots of my App...

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    #9
  10. John F

    John F Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Oddometer:
    333
    Location:
    South Windsor, CT
    Extremely helpful. Thanks. The video basically said all the magic words. The Mini is now my #1 choice right now. It looks like everything I want, and I can keep it in a chest pocket in my riding suit and not even notice, yet pull out my phone and text like normal (with a few obvious modifications).
    #10
  11. bicyclenut

    bicyclenut Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    159
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs, IL
    And this video speaks of using App with InReach units...






    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    #11
  12. AdamChandler

    AdamChandler Ascending n00b Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2016
    Oddometer:
    5,496
    Location:
    Hanover, NH USA
    Just went through this myself.

    If I lived where riding year-round was an option, I'd be a Spot X Owner. I like the built in keyboard, form factor and price.

    But where I live, if you want to ride when it's above 40 every day, your riding season is May 15th - November 1st. For me, the only time I'm on multi-day trips where I won't have cell service is June - August.

    So financially, I bought a heavily discounted Inreach for $278 and will be on the month to month plan until September when i suspend the service until next year. Spot being annual only is the only reason I went Inreach.

    and yes Inreach works with their iPhone app so can keep the in reach on your arm / shoulder and use your iPhone to type out text messages.
    #12
  13. bicyclenut

    bicyclenut Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    159
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs, IL
    Received InReach Mini today. Activated on my account in place of SE, did require a call to Garmin to do since it was a swap under same plan. Updated firmware and paired to phone, sending coordinates and sent test message. All works well. So much smaller and easier to carry. Surprisingly easy to navigate around to basic functions with buttons. Text messages would be probably more work than an old RAZR phone but with canned messages and use of phone should be fine for purpose.

    [​IMG]


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #13
    Oeths likes this.
  14. John F

    John F Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Oddometer:
    333
    Location:
    South Windsor, CT
    Thanks. After I posted this I found that these are quite popular with the mountain biking and hiking crowd, and found lots of reviews on sites like rei.com
    Please let me know how texting goes using your phone. Is it very similar to texting over the cellular network (with obvious differences, though)? Sub-RAZR texting doesn’t exactly thrill me. The Mini is definitely my top choice now, and I think I’ll drag my feet on buying it until I can set it up upon receiving it and have one month of service cover what I need at the beginning of September before I let it go dormant until my 2019 adventure (which I haven’t even conceived of yet). I’m a cheap-ass sonombeech, and I’ll probably only turn this thing on one month a year (until retirement — after that I intend to do a lot more).
    #14
  15. bicyclenut

    bicyclenut Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    159
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs, IL
    John F,

    If the InReach is paired with your phone texting would be just like texting from whatever phone you have inside of the Garmin App, so just type away. If you had to text from the unit only the experience would be 80-90’s cell phones. I could have texted this message and send via InReach just like I did in minutes using the App if that is what I wanted to do.

    The InReach isn’t really designed as a communications device or social device but for emergencies and letting friends know where you are at and you are OK. For its intended purpose it works great in a small package.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #15
  16. John F

    John F Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
    Oddometer:
    333
    Location:
    South Windsor, CT
    Absolutely perfect. Thanks. The Mini is definitely it. I’m only out of cell range a few days at a time at the longest, and 99% of the time one of the preset messages would be fine. It’s just nice to have the option without the up-up-left-select crap. Also, if an SOS is ever needed, it’s nice to know I’d have two way communication with the cavalry as they close in.
    It kind of blows me away some of the rides I’ve done in the past without a device like this. Never again.
    #16
    KHVol likes this.
  17. bicyclenut

    bicyclenut Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    159
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs, IL
    It’s surprising sometimes to realize you are in a spot with no cell signal and if you needed help you would be in trouble unless someone found you. I’ve been way out west from Chicago and found locations with no cell signal and you take it for granted that you will always have it when you are in more populated areas. Same thing a couple weeks ago in Smoky Mountains, cell signal can be real spotty in some areas. I thought I’d suspend mine more often but I found I keep it on during riding season or anytime I might be on the bike, in the car or doing an activity where my cell phone might not work and I could need it in an emergency.

    One of my riding buddies who is out of state and we only ride together a couple times a year bought an InReach as on our trips he realized how we think we are in civilized areas, but our phones don’t work and how valuable the InReach would be in an emergency even in areas you wouldn’t think of as remote.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    #17
    AdamChandler and John F like this.
  18. AdamChandler

    AdamChandler Ascending n00b Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2016
    Oddometer:
    5,496
    Location:
    Hanover, NH USA
    I know I'm the weirdo here but I don't even have cell service at my house. There are days where i leave the house and don't have service all day if I go a certain direction. If I drive 5 miles into town, i"ll get service so these kind of devices are pretty essential up here.
    #18
    RJAMT and bicyclenut like this.
  19. cug

    cug -- Super Supporter

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Oddometer:
    6,728
    Location:
    Sunny California
    I'm not sure how "essential" these really are, the argument of them not available in the past is not invalid. I appreciate the devices and the service they offer and I gladly use them, but I wouldn't call them essential in most cases. 99% of the situations would be just fine, it's really the 1% it might cover. And again, I gladly pay for the service to improve my odds in the 1% case.

    But I really understand that I have ridden hundreds of thousands of miles without this safety net and was just fine, even when I had break downs or crashes.
    #19
  20. RJAMT

    RJAMT Who remembered the winch? Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2014
    Oddometer:
    693
    Location:
    Belleville, IL unfortunately
    Ahhh!

    That sounds WONDERFUL!
    #20
    Motor7 likes this.