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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

SPOT Connect makes Smartphones personal satellite communicators

11

January

Have you ever been in place where you needed to be able to communicate but there was no cell signal? Maybe you go sailing to the Bahamas or drive MINI Coopers in the mountains? Well there's one way you can almost always be sure to make a connection and that's through a satellite. And now with the SPOT Connect device you can turn your Smartphone into a satellite communicator capable of a connection to the world from almost anywhere you can see the sky.

connect_prod.pngThe SPOT Connect is a small module you pair with your Smartphone. Using an app (Android already available, iPhone coming soon) you make the connection to a global satellite network that lets you send messages and GPS coordinates from virtually anywhere on the planet. Once connected you update Twitter and Facebook, send email and text messages or request non-emergency help from professional service providers. And when things get critical you also can send an SOS message for emergency assistance. You also can track and store your progress using Google Maps or your SPOT Adventure page.

A few years ago my brother-in-law used a SPOT Personal Tracker, a standalone device sold by SPOT, as he sailed to the Bahamas. We were able to track his process all the way and the device was so accurate that even when he moved his boat to a different slip in the marina we could see it. With no way to communicate with him while he was sailing in open waters, it was great to know where he was in case something went wrong. The device had an OK button he could push periodically to let us know he was OK. The Spot Connect has this feature too.

The device has a list price of $169.99 and you need a basic service plan ($99 a year) to activate the unit. Some additional features cost extra.

Communication of this type isn't needed by everyone but if you're a sailor, mountain climber or world-traveler it can provide a good measure of safety and piece of mind. That is, if you remember to turn it on and leave it on when you're in a place where you think you may need to be found.

 

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[Last modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 5:57pm]

    

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