Reasonably affordable two-way satellite communication – Garmin inReach Explorer+
Garmin recently launched two new products, the Garmin inReach Explorer+ (link to Amazon) and the Garmin inReach SE+. Both products come with a ton of new exciting features and improvements in the Garmin’s product line. Among them, two-way communication. It comes to mind the RINO series (link to Amazon), which allow us to communicate within the radio range. Well, the inReach provides all new level of communication. It consists of a feature that makes the inReach series very unique as it enables users to communicate with other people without having to depend on a radio or mobile network range. It relays on a direct satellite communication. That means it may be used to communicate from almost any place in the world. Garmin claims that it has 100% global coverage. Just as a quick note: the inReach products actually come from the acquired by Garmin company DeLorme earlier this year. You can read more about the purchase in the Garmin Newsroom here.
While both Explorer+ and SE+ come packed with new and amazing technology, the Garmin Explorer+ comes with preloaded TOPO Maps and consists of a barometric sensor, electronic compass, and accelerometer.
The Garmin inReach Explorer+ is a device targeted for those who love outdoor adventure, for both fun and work. Especially in places where there is no regular mobile coverage (very rural areas, deserts, seas etc.). The device is basically used to track one’s location, navigate to certain points and also to communicate with other people via 2-way text messaging from any place in the world.
For all the advanced features that the device comes with, one would think that the Garmin Explorer+ is a lot bigger and heavier than it’s predecessors. Well, it slightly is. Weight: 7.5 oz (213.0 g) -VS- 6.7 oz (190.0 g).
4.5” H (5.83” including antenna) x 2.46” W, 1.04” D (1.34” including belt clip) OR 11.5 cm H (14.8 cm including antenna) x 6.3 cm W, 1.6 cm D (3.4 cm including belt clip) -VS-
(Explorer+) 2.7″ x 6.5″ x 1.5″ (6.8 x 16.4 x 3.8 cm) with keypad and SOS door bump.
The device comes with a 2.3inch diag (5.9 cm) screen and 200 x 265 pixels resolution that provides a pretty nice display. It might be quite small for some people though.
The new Garmin inReach Explorer+ doesn’t depend on the AA batteries for power. The device comes with a rechargeable internal lithium ion battery. The battery can power the device for up to 100 hours (10-minute tracking intervals) of use and up to a staggering 3 years in idle mode.Those of you who might need more battery life would have to move with a solar charger (link to Amazon), like this one (best seller; Amazon doesn’t ship this item to Thailand):
The following Amazon ships to Thailand:
The Garmin Explorer+ is the first handheld satellite communication device and GPS navigator that has 100% global Iridium satellite coverage. This means that it is the first device of its kind to enable users anywhere in the world communicate with other people without having to use the mobile network (GSM).
Users are able to send text messages to any mobile phone number or e-mail address. The device automatically includes a link that shows the user’s current location in the sent messages.
Users are also able to send an SOS distress call in case of an emergency.
Users are required to choose a service plan while setting up the device online. Choosing a service plan is a must if you are planning to use the global Iridium satellite network for live tracking and sending messages. The more expensive the plan, the more data packages can be sent.
The plans range from $11.95 per month to $99.95 per month (pay annually).
|TRACKING INTERVALS||10 minutes +||10 minutes +||10 minutes +||2 minutes +|
|TRACKING POINTS||$0.10 ea.||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|LOCATION PINGS||$0.10 ea.||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|BASIC WEATHER||1 Text Message ea.||1 Text Message ea.||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|PREMIUM WEATHER||$1.00 ea.||$1.00 ea.||$1.00 ea.||$1.00 ea.|
|ANNUAL/CONTRACT||$11.95 /mo.||$24.95 /mo.||$49.95 /mo.||$79.95 /mo.|
|FREEDOM PLANS||$14.95 /mo.||$34.95 /mo.||$64.95 /mo.||$99.95 /mo.|
Users have to choose from four plans that include the Safety Plan, The Recreation plan, the Expedition plan and finally, the Extreme Plan.
Garmin Earthmate is an online portal where you are able to control and setup your Garmin inReach device. The portal is a welcome innovation that helps you manage various aspects of your device.
On the portal, users are able to plan routes, view their live tracks, edit or add emergency contact details, manage their messages, set pre-set messages and do a lot more.
Garmin also developed an Earthmate mobile app that provides the same functionality and features that the online portal offers. Users are able to connect the Garmin inReach Explorer+ to their smartphones or tablets via a Bluetooth connection.
With previous Garmin devices, the best way to plan routes was with the Garmin Basecamp. But that is not the case here, as mentioned earlier, users of the Garmin inReach Explorer+ are able to plan routes using the Earthmate app or online portal.
The Garmin inReach Explorer+ comes with a ton of new useful tracking features. Unlike the previous Garmin devices, the Garmin inReach Explorer+ comes with the live tracking and even lets you share your location publicly on a website known as Mapshare.
For those of you who are not familiar with Mapshare, it is a website that lets users share their trip progress and exact location with family members and friends.
The device automatically sends location updates to Mapshare and the frequency of the updates depends on the service plan the user is subscribed to.
On the beginner Safety Plan, users are charged per track point. On the Recreation and Expedition plans, users get unlimited track points that are made every 10 minutes. On the more expensive Extreme Plan, users get unlimited track points that are made every 2 minutes.
The Garmin inReach Explorer+ comes with an optional weather forecast service that sends timely updates to the device and to the paired smartphones and tablets. Users are able to request for weather forecasts for their current location or for their destination.
PROS AND CONS
- Battery life
- Ability to publish your location at regular intervals
- Nifty Online Portal
- 100% global satellite coverage
- Ability to send messages in places without cell towers or phone service coverage
- Ability to pair with mobile devices
- Built in Digital Compass, barometric sensor, and accelerometer
- Weather Forecast auto updates
- Compulsory service plans (paid annually – not monthly!)
- More expensive than predecessors
- Online Portal and App could offer more functionality and needs some improvements
The Garmin inReach Explorer+ is a device that has been eagerly awaited by many, and now that it is here, it is not hard to understand what all the hype was about.
The device comes with a ton of new features. From the ability to send text messages to phone numbers and e-mail addresses, to the live tracking abilities and to the amazing battery life, the Garmin inReach Explorer+ not only justifies it’s price tag (reasonably affordable for the peace of mind during “out of range” adventures), but considering all the loaded features, it rather seems more like a bargain.
There is a barrage of GPS navigation and satellite communication devices out there, but it is fair to conclude that the Garmin inReach Explorer is easily the best among them and also, the one that just might save your life.
Garmin Earthmate (iTunes)