Tuesday, July 21, 2009

SPOT Improvements

I've carried a SPOT on my flight deck for 18 months now. It has never saved my life, but it has always been there, waiting to be activated if need be. In March I resubscribed for the 2009 season using a promotion that basically gave me a free SPOT unit for the cost of subscription (around $150). I also consider the $8/yr. GEOS SAR subscription a valuable bit of insurance that appeals to my sense that SAR service fees should be the responsibility of the adventurer who gets himself into trouble. To that end, I am taking the responsibility by insuring myself.

A new SPOT promotion is now available that will, again, provide the present SPOT hardware essentially free for the price of the services. The rub is that SPOT is now asking for a 2-year subscription to qualify for the $150 rebate. Should you make the commitment at this time? Well here's my take on it. . .

The present Spot unit is quite adequate. I use my SPOT unit in three circumstances:
  • as a form of 'catastrophic insurance' to send out an SOS, with GPS coordinates, even where cell service is unavailable. and,

  • as a means of communicating with my retrieval team when flying XC or in a competition.

  • SPOT-Tracking

  • SPOT is about to offer a "NEW" SPOT unit that is smaller, lighter, and integrates some improvements that those of us using SPOTs have requested. Improvements include a more robust GPS chipset and antennae, lighted buttons, additional message options, and a dedicated SPOT-Tracking button. In addition are some much appreciated indicator lights that indicate GPS acquisition and message sending lights.

    These improvements address some of the 'limitations' of the 'old' unit. I, however, believe that the old unit is adequate for the basic catastrophic insurance that is my primary reason for carrying a SPOT.

    So, should you upgrade to the new unit?
    If you are a 'gadget-guy' who needs to have the latest & greatest - maybe.
    If the unit is much better at sending messages under a canopy of trees - probably.
    If the unit price isn't too much more - (I think the price point is $150 to $200)

    Will I? Not for a bit. If you don't have a SPOT yet and have decided to get one, I'd think about the 2-yr. FREE SPOT Deal. I imagine that you will have the option of applying your subscription to the new unit in the future if you decide later to upgrade.

    Hopefully I'll get to try one out when they become available.

    Fly Safe -
    Tim

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