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

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

  1. dad2bike

    dad2bike Retired! Cranky Old Fart

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    I went back and reread your brain dump. Seems you had already answered my question. Both are in the few minutes or less time frame.:thumb So near real time?
    In your opinion a good alternative to SAT phone?
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  2. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    The Inreach is much faster at sending messages. The Spot X can take several minutes to send a message. That's probably not a big enough difference to really matter. However, one thing I haven't really tested yet is how local conditions affect the ability to send a message. I do that my Inreach was able to send a message when it was completely inside my house. That's not a feature I directly care about but it does suggest the Inreach doesn't need a clear line of site to a satellite. The Spot X seems to be more picky and certainly from what I've read other people say, the Spot devices handle obstructions less well.

    I think both devices are probably good alternative to a satellite phone. I've got a sat phone and the problem with it is that it's quite large and the monthly plan cost is high. There's currently a bundle of an Iridium 9555 phone plus a 200 minute prepaid SIM. The cost is $1590 and and minutes expire after six months! You'd really have to feel that making a voice call was essential to pay that much.
    #22
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  3. dad2bike

    dad2bike Retired! Cranky Old Fart

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    Yeah that was my reasoning in trying to avoid the SAT phone. The SPOT x seems to be just a $40/ year increase for me and then the device cost.
    I've always noticed big gaps in my SPOT tracks.
    My wife likes to follow me along on the computer. The rule is not to worry when no track points. It's when there is a ton of points at a single location. THAT"S where you send the rescue forces.
    Canyons seem to be the biggest blockage to sat view in this area.
    #23
  4. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    I did some pricing comparison this morning and the results are interesting: for me, both devices will cost about the same over the course of two years. Here's the data:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TEhJ1iDEcKsBQ3jAeIUwVOe6EZNelnPqn5Pv99J5VOo/edit?usp=sharing

    I'm comparing the Garmin Recreation plan with the Spot Weekender plan. The Spot plan is the basic one; the Garmin plan is a step up from their basic plan. That's because the basic Garmin plan charges for tracking points; Spot doesn't. If you don't care about tracking, then you could tweak my numbers to use Garmin's cheaper plan. Personally, I like the idea of people - including me! - easily being able to look at a map and see where I've been. Definitely not an SOS-type feature but cool.

    Garmin has an option to only have the device activated for the months you'll need it. The plan is a bit more expensive per month if you do this and they charge a yearly fee but it's still a good option for people who don't need the device active year round.

    If I assume that I'll have the Inreach active for four months each year, then the total two year cost for the Inreach will be almost $700; it'll be $670 for the Spot X. If the Inreach will be active for three months, then the Garmin price drops to $630 for the two year period, while the Spot price stays at $670. These prices don't include taxes.

    I need to get more details about how easy it is to manage activating and deactivating the Inreach. If it's a hassle, I suspect I'd just use the full-year plan. Ultimately, the costs - regardless of which unit you pick and which plan - aren't crazy and I don't think the differences are enough to outweigh other technical differences between the units. If you really want to have an SOS device but want to keep the cost down, just get a PLB. A good one is about $250 and there are not recurring charges at all.
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  5. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    My experience so far suggests you won't have gaps in an Inreach Mini track. I've got to do more testing 'though (mostly because I'm curious; a gap-y track isn't a big deal).
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  6. krussell

    krussell Long timer

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    In the event you have a problem that prevents you from being able to SOS, either because you are not able, or because you are in position that prevents the device from reaching the satellite, that track becomes extremely valuable, it can narrow down the search dramatically.

    That's my approach. ACR 375 PLB in my jacket, Inreach (Currently Delorme SE) on the bike, always tracking.

    Attached Files:

    #26
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  7. HalcyonRider

    HalcyonRider peaceful, prosperous, carefree

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    So, I'm fairly certain that I am going to switch over to the inReach. Now with the Explorer currently marked down to only $25 more than the mini, it seems I should just go that route and get the extra battery life. Any thoughts?
    #27
  8. krussell

    krussell Long timer

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    I think it's really important to have your phone setup with the corresponding app so that if you need help and are able, you can easily send very detailed messages. On any of the InReach devices using just the device to send a message is going to really slow you down, especially if you are injured. I bring this up relative to battery live because you either have to be able to power the things you need, or have enough power remaining at the time of the event to communicate as required until you've gotten the help you need. If you are pairing with bluetooth to your phone, that quoted battery life is likely to be even less.
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  9. krussell

    krussell Long timer

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    FYI, the SE+, which is more comparable feature wise to the mini, is available for $25 less than the mini at REI through the 16th.
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  10. HalcyonRider

    HalcyonRider peaceful, prosperous, carefree

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    Yeah, I figured the Explorer had topo maps which may be worth the extra 25. Although makes you wonder if the sale means a new model will be releasing soon.
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  11. krussell

    krussell Long timer

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    I've been waiting for them to get marked down, and the current discounts are very tempting. I like the size of the mini, and was glad to see @fhammond sharing some hands on experience with it. If the mini had a powered mount, I'd be all over it. Without it, I think I'll end up with the SE+ or Explorer+. As soon as I pull the trigger on any of them the price will be dropped 50% and they'll be discontinued. :-)

    The good news is my Delorme SE is running great, so I'm not in any hurry. I do fantasize that Garmin will deliver a full featured GPS with sat comm technology. A combination of the Montana + InReach Mini in a single unit would be fantastic. I was hoping that is what the Explorer+ would be, but it falls far short on the GPS side.

    I guess the other option is phone + gps app + inreach mini. I have a friend that uses only the delorme app on his phone with his inreach se for all of his navigation. I'd just have to be more diligent about charging / powering the thing off.
    #31
  12. krussell

    krussell Long timer

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    Thanks for sharing the spreadsheet, makes it really clear how you came up with everything.

    Curious, what happens at the end of two years? If you plan on upgrading the device, I've found the inreach devices hold their value much better than the spot devices. Something to keep in mind.
    #32
  13. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    I’m not sure. Probably keep using the Inreach, in which case the three cost difference would be greater (though still not huge). Iridium is currently upgrading their satellite network, so I could see buying a new device in two years if there was some compelling reason to do so.
    #33
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  14. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    Wow, that’s a really good point that I hadn’t considered. Thank you! I’m going to do some more track accuracy testing today and I’ll update this thread with the results.
    #34
  15. Pavman

    Pavman n00b

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    Thanks for doing this review!

    I have the Spot X, and posted a negative review on REI about my issues with the Spot which led me to this posting. My main concern with the Spot X is that from my experience, and from what I was told by their tech support is that the Spot system cannot send more than one recipient a message every 20 minutes. I discovered this by sending myself a check in and text message, then followed it up with a text message to my wife. She never got the message. I then noticed several messages I send in the Spot with a question mark by the receipt conformation, so I assumed they would eventually go out, but they never did or will. A round trip reply and follow up response may take 60 minutes. Not being able to communicate when you are in a situation and not knowing if your message even went is a deal killer to me and why I am going to send it back and go for the inreach explorer+.

    Have you had any issues with being able to send more than one message to more than one person with the inreach?
    #35
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  16. dad2bike

    dad2bike Retired! Cranky Old Fart

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    Well thank you very much!

    So SPOT has a forced latency of 20 minutes for outgoing. That pretty much knocks it out of contention as a possible cost effective replacement for a SAT phone.

    @fhammond have you noticed anything like this with the InReach?
    #36
  17. Pavman

    Pavman n00b

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    The initial message goes out pretty quick, actually in a matter of minutes, the follow up's are what is unknown. Spot told me that if their system sees more than one message in a short period of time it gets jumbled and tossed out of their system.
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  18. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    The Inreach definitely does not have that problem. I just did a test: one message sent via SMS and another sent via email. I sent both within a few seconds of each other and probably within 5 seconds of that, I heard the Inreach make its message sent chirp - twice, as both messages were sent at the same time. Another ten seconds or so after that, I received both messages; see the pictures.

    At pretty much the same time, I did the same test from the Spot X (that is, two messages, one via email, one via SMS). I just received the message I sent from the Spot X to my email address. It took about five minutes to send and receive. However, I have not received the text message yet. I'll update this post when - if? - I do.

    At this point in my testing, I can't see a reason for me to buy the Spot X. In fact, I'd go as far as saying I can't see why anyone would buy the Spot X. I think the only two scenarios where it could make sense are:
    1. You want the device active the whole year but you want to spend as little as possible.
    2. You want to be able use a keyboard to type free-form messages but you don't want to use a Bluetooth tethered phone (and you can put up with the Spot's keyboard being awful!).

    Neither scenario seems very realistic. Barring those, I believe the Inreach is the superior device in every way. I'm going to keep the Spot X for another week then make a decision. Right now, my view is that the Inreach is easier to use, better designed, better built, has more features, uses a far superior network, and is from a company I have more faith in and who's tech support is excellent.

    Update:
    I got the text from the Spot X to my email address about 20 minutes after I sent it. However, even after both messages were sent, the Spot X is still displaying that there's a message waiting to be sent - almost half an hour after I hit Send on both messages. Not good.

    IMG_1109.jpg

    IMG_1106.jpg IMG_1107.jpg
    #38
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  19. Pavman

    Pavman n00b

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    Thanks for the follow up.

    Now what will work is if you send the initial message to several recipients, however, if all of them respond and are coming to help you, you need to make sure you respond to all of them in a single message again or it will take hours to get a response to them all and you will not know if they even got it.
    #39
  20. fhammond

    fhammond Been here awhile

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    Yeah, that's not good. I did read your REI review a few days ago. I noticed that the REI reviews for the Spot X are mostly bad and the ones for the Inreach are mostly good.
    #40
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