I've got both the Inreach Mini and Spot X; ask me questions

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by fhammond, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    Hi all,

    I bought a Spot X on the weekend and just this morning got a Garmin Inreach Mini. I'm going to play with both for a few days and keep one of them. While I've got both, feel free to ask me anything you'd like to know about them.

    Fergus

    IMG_1088.jpg
    #1
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  2. motokeith

    motokeith Been here awhile

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    From where did you score the InReach Mini?
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  3. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    REI in San Francisco. Their Concord, CA store also had one.
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  4. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    Which, if any, clock is right? :dunno
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  5. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    Ha! I was wondering if anyone would notice that. The Inreach’s clock is right. You have to manually set the clock on the Spot X, which is weird. I even called Spot to confirm this.
    #5
  6. HalcyonRider

    HalcyonRider peaceful, prosperous, carefree

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    I've got a SpotX on the way, but am questioning my decision. I've read several reviews about unreliable tracking and messaging.

    The inReach looks like a good product.

    Does Garmin offer the SAR insurance that Spot has?
    #6
  7. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    Yes, they do. Here's what I see on the plan page of my account

    GEOS SAR plan:
    "Up to $100,000 in additional search & rescue expenses. Only $17.95 USD/Year"
    http://www.geostravelsafety.com/assets/pdf/GEOS-SAR-BENEFIT-TERMS-AND-CONDITIONS.pdf

    GEOS MEDIVAC
    "Provides emergency evacuation to a hospital near your home. Starting at $129.95 USD/Year"
    http://www.geostravelsafety.com/assets/pdf/GEOS-MEDIVAC-TERMS-AND-CONDITIONS.pdf

    There's a $129.95/year plan that covers the US and Canada and different plan for $175/year if you need global coverage.
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  8. NJ-Bill

    NJ-Bill Life is good

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    Can the mini send messages without a paired phone?
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  9. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    Yes. I can easily send the standard, pre-configured messages and you can also type out custom messages.
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  10. outty

    outty (☞゚ヮ゚)☞

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    Does either unit work exactly as advertised?

    If a man, such as myself, simply needed 'piece-of-mind' SOS capabilities while travelling alone, which would be the better, most cost effective option?
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  11. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    Ha, great question! Both seem to have much worse battery life than advertised. However, at least in the case of the Spot X, that might be a reporting issue: the battery indicator show half batter life but almost as soon as I plugged it in, I got a message that the battery was full.

    Later today or tomorrow, I'm going to do a real test when I turn on track, force the devices to send updates even when not moving (I think that's possible) and see how long they last on a full charge.

    Other than that, both seem to work as advertised. The keyboard on the Spot X isn't good: there's a tactile click when you press a key but that doesn't always mean the devices registers the keystroke. You often have to press a little harder. That's poor design. The click should mean that the keystroke has been recognized. That's how every other keyboard I've ever used works, including some pretty terrible mobile keyboards.

    For my use, I'm not really using much value in the full size keyboard. It's very easy to set up a much of canned messages that'll cover most situations and when they don't, the Inreach does provide an option for manually typing out a message.
    #11
  12. krussell

    krussell Long timer

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    It seems that neither has a powered mount avaialable, has anyone seen otherwise?

    I've gone SPOT 1 -> SPOT 3 -> Inreach SE. I ran the Inreach and the Spot 3 on opposite ends of the bar for about a month, and found the Inreach delivered track messages on the first attempt most of the time, while the Spot took multiple tries about 20% of the time. I think this is purely a function of satellite coverage, anything specific to the device, so I'd expect the same for the Mini and the X unless they are using less power, smaller antenna, etc.

    My Inreach is working, so I don't have any reason to replace it, but I'm very tempted to go to the SE+ just to be able to get powered mounts. While I don't typically forget to charge it, I do once in a while, or I accidently leave it on. That leaves me in a bind on the next ride.
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  13. outty

    outty (☞゚ヮ゚)☞

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    Want to sell the SE to me? :D
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  14. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    I've been playing with both devices this morning; here are some comments:
    • If a message is sent from the Spot X to a mobile phone number, a reply from the mobile phone is correctly received by the Spot. However, if the message is sent from the Spot X to an email address, a reply from the device that received the email (computer or smart phone) is not received correctly. The Spot X receives the message but only the subject line is readable, not the body. It's kind of a bummer.
    • The Spot X keyboard is awful. It's not that it's small - it's actually a decent size and the keys have a nice click to them. It's that the click doesn't always mean anything and you end up having to press the key again. I mentioned this above in more detail.
    • Compared to the Inreach, sending and receiving messages on the Spot X is slower and less consistent. The Spot X will always take longer - often minutes longer - to send a message than the Inreach. Also, it often still displays that the message is waiting to be sent when it's actually already been received on the other end.
    • Conversely, sending and receiving messages from the Inreach is very quick, often just a few seconds from when the message was sent. You get the impression that the Iridium network is always available, while the Spot network isn't.
    • The Spot X iPhone app is terrible - or I completely don't know how to use it. It doesn't seem to do anything. I've got several messages on my Spot X after all my testing but it doesn't show any of them. I'll have to play with it some more because I can't believe it could be this bad.
    • The Inreach app is ok. It's not very pretty (and it doesn't use the full screen resolution of an iPhone X) but it does what it's expected to in a way you can mostly figure out without reading the manual.
    • Speak of manuals, the Spot X's manual is much better. There are more things on the Inreach that you just have to play with to figure out. Fortunately, both devices are pretty simple so it's not a big deal.
    • If you've got bad eyesight, forget about the Spot X: the font size on the screen is really small. The upside is that the screen is crisp and clear and because it uses the same technology as a Kindle, it's very easy to read in bright sunlight. There is also a backlight for when it's dark (hit the power button to turn it on).
    • The Inreach's screen is more like a regular LCD but it's actually also very easy to read in sunlight. Also the font size is much bigger. Even though there's no keyboard, I find the Inreach easier to navigate around. Garmin has spent a long time developing interfaces for devices with only a few buttons and it shows: sending a preset message on the Increach takes four presses of the same button; on the Spot, it's more like 8 or 10. That's partially because a preset message on the Increach includes the address to which the message is going. On the Spot, you can change the To address(s). Some people might think of that as advantage. I don't, as I'd rather just be able to really quickly send a preset messages.
    • On both the Spot and the Inreach, you can send messages that are free. You set them on up the vendor's web site, sync the device with a USB cable, then choose the message you want from the device itself. The Spot calls these "predefined"; the Inreach calls them "preset"). The Inreach only permits three of these canned messages but the Spot lets you have 14. I wish the Inreach had more but I don't think it's a big deal. My three canned messages on a previous Increach were:
      • All ok. We're about to start or stop for the day.
      • Delayed but everything is ok.
      • I am ok but have sent an SOS message for another person. (This one's really important. I had to send an SOS once for a rider we came across who'd crashed and was unconscious. Fortunately, I had the original Inreach SE and I was able to send my wife a text saying it the SOS she received was for someone else. If I'd had a basic Spot, it would have sucked for her. Now, I have the third message, so I can quickly send an SOS and quickly send her a follow-up, saying not to worry)
    • Since I've got another GPS, I've mostly been focusing on the messages features of the devices. However, I can already see that the Inreach is not bad for a tiny GPS. It could definitely be quite easily used as a backup GPS.

    Ok, that's a big brain dump. Up next is figuring out which device will be more expensive of the course of two years. I suspect they'll be close enough that I won't care. The Increach hardware and plan costs more but I'd almost certainly use the Freedom plan, where you can suspend your subscription for the months where you don't need it. Spot makes you pay for the whole year.

    More to come.

    #14
  15. dad2bike

    dad2bike Retired! Cranky Old Fart

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    Thanks for taking the time to do this comparison. I've been using Spot Gen 2 since they came out. The 4 messages that I can preload have so far covered me.
    Me and a few others have been looking at Sat phones for use in the back country. The SPOT X with unlimited text seemed to be a cost effective solution.

    My questions

    Have you timed the latency between the message sent and actual receipt on each side? X to phone, Phone to X Maybe do the same for the InReach.

    You indicated an app for the phone. Did it allow you to use the phone to do your text input?
    #15
  16. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    Consider a PLB if all you want is SOS. No fees after the purchase price.
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  17. 250senuf

    250senuf Long timer

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    Please clarify, I think you meant to type "SPOT" in place of one of these "inReach"
    #17
  18. HalcyonRider

    HalcyonRider peaceful, prosperous, carefree

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    Nice catch! I'm guessing from the context the second one is the SpotX. More presses.
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  19. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    Yes, thanks for the catch. I did mean Spot X. I've updated the post to fix that.
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  20. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    Sorry, I missed your second question. If you really just need SOS capabilities, then by far the best option is a PLB. I have an Acr PLB but if I was buying one now, I might by one of these: http://oceansignal.com/products/plb1/

    The benefit of the PLB is that it's extremely reliable and it's inexpensive: there's a one-time purchase cost and that's it. There's a sealed battery which last several years, after which you buy a new PLB.

    For me, the downside of a PLB for just an SOS device is that you can't send a signal that distinguishes between you needing rescue and someone else needing rescue. If I send an SOS, there's a good change it's going to be for someone else and I'd hate for my wife to get a call from the SAR center, telling her I've pressed the SOS button. There'd likely be several hours while she didn't know whether it's me at the bottom of a ravine or someone else.

    Personally, I like the option of having both a PLB and a two-way satellite communicator. If I'm alone, the PLB will stay in my jacket pocket and the satellite communicator will stay on the bike.
    #20