There’s a hot new communication method available to boaters and fishers, because DeLorme and SPOT not interface to allow text messaging from afar, be it on your boat in the middle of the ocean or a mountaintop lake. SPOT satellite messengers have required you to pre-program your texts up to now, but the Earthmate PN-60w is the first handheld GPS to interface with the SPOT, via a wireless connection. You use the Earthmate’s internal keyboard to type out your message, and the SPOT shoots it on to the satellites overhead.
This broadens the capabilities of a SPOT in a big way – now you can communicate unlimited messages and won’t have to rely on the few snippets you’d programmed into the SPOT previously. Since they go out via satellite your message will go out from virtually anywhere in the world, and since both of these units are watertight and rugged (yes, they are – I’ve tested both extensively and found them to be essentially bullet-proof), you can use ‘em in all kinds of conditions.
In emergency situations the SPOT still sends out your SOS with GPS coordinates included, and family or friends can still keep tabs on your location via Google Maps, so there’s no real down-side to this system. Just remember that the DeLorme comes out of the box more attuned to land use then marine, and to have the chartography we mariners need you’ll have to pony up a bit. Still, that’s a minor detail considering how much flexibility this new text messaging ability provides.
The system is being introduced this week so I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but stay tuned. I’ll try to line up a test and review to bring you more in-depth details. Until then, excercise those text-enabled fingers! Here’s what the units look like: