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SPOT II?

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SPOT II?

Postby BSquared » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:41 am

Have the SPOT II PLBs been out long enough for people on this board to have experiences they'd like to share? I've read all the reviews at REI.com but wonder what people here think. The REI reviews are interesting: they're mostly either five-star or one-star reviews, with the one-stars coming from people with obviously defective units (or units that broke with very little abuse, which seems like a defect to me). From the experiences of people with defective units, it sounds like their customer service is really terrible, but that's often hard to judge from one-shot comments (as opposed to give-and-take, which is so good about a forum like this). People who had units that worked properly generally liked them very much.

Anyway, comments about SPOT II? I'm seriously thinking about getting one of these beasts. Used a friend's earlier version on our aborted JMT through-hike two years ago, and once I figured out it had to be on its back, it worked great.
—B²



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Re: SPOT II?

Postby PatrickQuin » Thu Oct 28, 2010 11:54 am

Hey B, I got one of these this year, so it hasnt seen a ton of service as far as construction is concerned. I for one think it is a great tool. My mom bought it for me, and more so for herself, and it really gives everyone involved peace of mind. Since a majority of my backpacking is a solo endeavor she wanted me to have a better emergency response plan than, "Don't trip". I just turn on the Spot everytime im moving and let it track me, when i get to camp i let it run for a half hour or so so she knows thats my place for the evening and i shut it down till morning. She has a certain amount of fun and reassurance everyday watching my steps. I feel better about being alone and like the idea folks are at home watching me tramp through the woods. It is cool to look over your tracks when you get home as well.
I just put the spot in my top pouch of the pack and it does a good job sending signals, i think there are a number of missed signals but through the day it gets them out just fine. I have never had trouble sending a signal if i have the device in my hand and think it would do fine transmiting in an emergency situation, but there are times it does show limitation... But as noted in some rei reviews, such is the nature of a satellite device.
Its expensive and you have to pay too much for the services in my opinion but especially after having used it for several trips, the peace of mind is worth the dent to the wallet.
And as far as construction i keep it in the little case, you don't do too much with it. Its still like brand new, and i have yet to swap batteries...i dont for see any problems at this point.
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Re: SPOT II?

Postby oldranger » Thu Oct 28, 2010 12:26 pm

Bill,

I'm sure we had a thread on the first version of spot. I'd be interested in hearing from people who have used both. We always keep ours (original)with us even when traveling in the car as it is set up to request a tow truck. This is a great feature when traveling in remote areas of the west that have little cell coverage and few fellow travelers.

I think I mentioned on the aforementioned thread that the son of a friend of mine actually used the 911 function in Mexico and it worked just as advertised.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: SPOT II?

Postby BrianF » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:40 pm

I have had one for about 6 months, so no comment on durability. I have sent OK signals as a test from many areas in my local backcountry and even in narrow canyons had no trouble getting out the signal and getting GPS. I have also done the same in several areas of the Sierra with same results. So far so good!
I used to carry an ACR PLB which I am sure is bombproof, but it weighed 12oz. and had no message sending capability, just a help signal. The spot is a great improvement over that.
Last edited by BrianF on Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Re: SPOT II?

Postby maverick » Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:24 am

Sounds good BrianF, the first generation had some negative reviews concerning the
signal being able to get out in deeper canyons or heavily forested areas.
It seems they have addressed some of the major issues with this newest model that
may make it be something worth considering now.
Hopefully someone will chime in who has had the first generation too, and give us
there thoughts.
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Re: SPOT II?

Postby BrianF » Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:49 am

One note on use: the first time out of the box I didn't leave it on sending the OK message long enough and that message didn't go through from my backyard. But since then I have been leaving it running while sending for about 20 minutes and that works great.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher
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Re: SPOT II?

Postby BSquared » Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:02 am

Brian, we made precisely the same mistake withe the SPOT I we took on the JMT trip two years ago. We watched the "sent" light, and when it flashed on, we turned the unit off and packed it up. When we got to Tuolumne and called home, our "team" told us they'd received hardly any messages (we also made the mistake of keeping it upright instead of on its back); I'm embarrassed to say that it wasn't until we aborted the trip and I had a few minutes to browse the Internet before the next trip that I learned how important it was to keep the thing on for its entire "cycle" (the 20 minutes you mention). It even said that in the instruction manual, so I have no one to blame but myself.
—B²
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Re: SPOT II?

Postby maverick » Fri Oct 29, 2010 1:30 pm

Has anyone tried the ACR Electronics SARlink 406 Personal Locator Beacons which
are $399.95, with no yearly fees involved or being tied in for 2 years.
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Re: SPOT II?

Postby LMBSGV » Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:19 pm

I had the SPOT I and this year upgraded to the SPOT II. My wife likes me to have it when I go out solo. The new version is a definite improvement. Along with better satellite reception. the addition of the Custom Message feature allows for telling those at home there's been a change without causing the same level of distress as the Help button. So in September when I broke my toe and so didn't make it into Kaweah Basin, I sent the prearranged "I'm changing my itinerary" Custom Message. My wife knew something serious had caused the itinerary change, but not to worry. When I got home, she had a pretty close idea of what had happened.

My one major complaint is that the SPOT customer support people are clearly unthinking corporate drones. They goofed on my billing (billed my twice) and getting them to understand how they'd screwed up was time consuming and frustrating. They follow the corporate script and are obviously told they will be in deep **** if they actually use their own brain.
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Re: SPOT II?

Postby maverick » Sat Oct 30, 2010 12:13 pm

LMBSGV, that is the number one knock in reviews on the Spot, and was my
number one reason for dropping Globalstar (Sat Phone) several years back.
I will wait to see if they do anything about there customer support/service side
otherwise forget it.
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Re: SPOT II?

Postby rlown » Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:09 pm

figured I'd include a pointer to gdurkee's Spot user responsibility checklist as well:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5103&p=31511

I think most on this thread have already seen it, but just to be complete..
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Re: SPOT II?

Postby BSquared » Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:42 pm

Somehow I had missed that link, Russ: thank you! It's a great checklist, as one would expect from George.
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