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Competitor to Garmin InReach?
Its interesting to me that the DeLorme (now Garmin) InReach satellite texting device has no serious competition. Typically, when technology is useful and marketable it becomes competitive. So far, there hasn't been any serious competition.
Until now. SatPaq by Higher Ground. The device is $250 (less than InReach). It looks smaller and lighter than the InReach. The text plans are less expensive than InReach (but not unlimited). Unlike the InReach, the plan never turns off but the service runs out when you're out of messages. Also, the maximum message is 480 characters (InReach is 160). Another difference is that the InReach can operate independently or with a smartphone. Whereas, the SatPaq can only operate with a smartphone.
Is this the first real competitor to the InReach? Has anybody used this yet?
Looks interesting, I'll have to check it out closer. As far as competition to Garmin, not too long ago Spot released the Spot X which also has many of the same functions as the In-Reach.
“Point to one of our two Geo satellites”.....wonder how they get world-wide coverage? I am skeptical.
Kurt - "wonder how they get world-wide coverage? "
From the FAQ page:
Where can I use my SatPaq?
The SatPaq can be used anywhere in the 50 United States and in international waters around the U.S.
Good point Kurt. Two satellites are not a lot of satellites. The InReach uses the Iridium satellite network, which (I think) is the best of its kind. Still, sometimes messages take a few minutes to go out. I can't imagine how long a message might take with a lesser network. Is this the most important difference between InReach, Spot X, and the SatPaq?
Unless it’s on iridium it isn’t an option in my book.
The two Satellite thing sounds like a dealbreaker for me. InReach can take up to 15 minutes to get a message out, if I'm in a serious hellhole somewhere....
Permit me to answer any questions. I am the President and Founder of Higher Ground. Perhaps, we were not clear with our website: By using two GEO satellites (as compared to Iridium's LEO satellites), you never have to wait for a message to go out. The GEO satellites do not move - they are always in the same place in the sky. This means instant communications from anywhere.
A Low Earth Orbit constellation (like Iridium) takes tens of satellites in orbit because they move quickly across the sky. A single GEO satellite (which costs $300m) each is all you need to provide connectivity to the US. We lease two GEO satellites to give you redundancy. Communicating to a GEO satellite from a credit-card-sized module has never been done before. The GEO satellite is also 100x less expensive than a LEO constellation which means "no monthly fee"; typically just 35 cents per message when you need it.
Happy to answer any questions.
Rreis. Thanks for logging in to answer questions
interesting. I assumed it was on the network that spot was using which was a semi worthless. this has some promise
Do you offer a monthly fee option for unlimited messages or is the 35 cents per message the only option? Does the 35 cents apply to incoming messages as well?
rreis: THANK YOU for responding to this post. We were missing some facts.
I'd like to follow up with some questions: 1. Weight of unit 2. How long does a charge last if left on continuously? 3. Is the battery built in? 4. Is it difficult to attach to a smartphone?
elk - you can try their FAQ page. Weight is 4 oz.
There also is a reference guide only you can download and use: https://satpaq.com/reference/
A quick look in there didn't find the charging time you were looking for.
Let me answer your questions: a) Battery charge: If you don't use the SatPaq at all, the battery will last about 4 to 5 months. If you use the SatPaq, you will get about 300 to 400 transmissions between charges; or about 20 messages for twenty days. b) Solar: You can purchase a small, solar panel for cell phones which will also recharge the SatPaq. It will permit you send more than 20 messages per day almost forever. c) The battery is built in. This allows you to simply clip the SatPaq to a phone - no wire connection. The connection is by Bluetooth. d) The process of clipping the SatPaq to your phone takes about 4 to 5 seconds. Very easy. e) We will also provide a simple stand that allows you to place the SatPaq some 30 feet away. Hunters like this because they can position the SatPaq on the ground near a hunting blind and still send texts from 30 feet away via bluetooth. f) it takes about 1 hour to recharge the 850 mah battery to full charge from zero. g) we don't have an unlimited deal; But the US Army Rangers are buying message packs for 10,000 messages at a time. People like the idea of paying for the use instead of paying $25 per month whether you get value or not. h) Another huge advantage of our stationary (GEO) satellites is real time communications. You don't have to wait for a LEO satellite to come over head. This is what makes our solution of high value to search and rescue.
Happy to answer any and all questions. Thanks for the interest. Rob
Thank Amoebus and rreis. Lots of good info in the reference guide. The unit shows you the direction to point for the geostationary satellite. It also shows signal strength. The SatPaq is water-resistant, but not waterproof. I don't see this as a problem since most phones are also water-resistant, and not waterproof. Like the InReach you can share your location or choose not to. Cool features overall. I'm glad to see competition.
It is Great that rreis jumped in, and offered to answer questions. Sounds real interesting. Have a couple question...... Is the Higher Ground SatPaq, one device/iPhone specific ? Or will it bluetooth connect to other iPhones, that have the app installed ? And is it bluetooth compatible to an iPad, with app installed, that is cell/wi-fi capable for text aka iMessages ?
A couple of questions:
Is rreis a bowhunter?
Does rreis monitor Bowsite?
This looks very neat and I'm seriously considering getting one - I'm a big fan of the 'pay per use' vs flat monthly rate.
My only concern is on the FAQ section, it states the signal can't go through 'solid objects'. Has it been/anyone tested in thick tree canopies or in general not ideal circumstances? I'd like to think a signal could get through, but would really like confirmation and experiences first.
How about from a tent or in downpour rain/snow storm?
a) The SatPaq connects by Bluetooth to our app called SpaceLinq. SpaceLinq runs on an iPhone and by early March on an Android phone. b) No problem with mix and match. You can have one SatPaq connect to any phone and then connect to another phone. We also provide a family plan for messages so that a family can share the message package. c) Due to laws of physics, no microwave signal can go through buildings, metal or thick leaves. It is called 'line of sight'. No way around it for any satellite product. SpaceLinq has a neat augmented-reality viewer which allows you to look through the camera of your phone to see where the satellite is and whether it is blocked. If blocked, you simply move a bit until it is unblocked. Easy to do because the satellite doesn't move. [But, in thick forests, you may have to move around a lot. Again, laws of physics.] d) Absolutely no issue with rain, or fog or snow. e) No problem transmitting through a tent. Rob
From page 17 of the SatPaq Reference Guide
From page 17 of the SatPaq Reference Guide
Line of sight makes perfect sense. I've seen where my Cerberus or InReach wouldn't work in a deep canyon. This meant that I had to climb a bit to get a better view of the sky. It sounds like with the SatPaq it helps you to find the satellite through the camera on the phone. This would allow you to make minor movements in order to get a signal. This should help to prevent climbing up a mountain unnecessarily.
Not a chance this compares. Iridium InReach) is truly worldwide. It might work in and around the lower 48 but this to save a few $$? No way.
Is the network expanding? I also hunt Canada Alaska and Mexico. Will there be service there in the future?
It wasn't my intent to address costs, but since someone brought it up: a) Cost comparison to InReach (assumes just two years of the InReach Monthly Fee); InReach is $700; SatPaq will be about $330. Each year of additional use saves another ~$160 / yr. b) US [all 50 states] and international waters now. International version of the SatPaq end of 2019 (w trade-in). c) no waiting minutes for the Iridium satellites to come into view. Rob
An interesting looking device, I'm sure there is a market. But I can think of one (important) situation where an InReach or Spot still has an advantage, and that is the SOS/911 function. If you are hurt real bad the ability to just press a button (or two), rather than dealing with two devices and having to orient one of them might make a big difference, just saying.
Satellites always in the same place in the sky? Is that even possible?
Geosynchronous orbit. Satellite TV like Dish uses such satellites. Pretty interesting. May be in the market for a satellite transceiver in a few months. Certainly going on the list. I'll be following.
I've owned many Garmin products. In all honesty, they always seemed a half step behind the technical curve when they make something, right down to batteries and charging systems. Always seems like they could do so much more with what they had. In many ways the common cell phone is leaving them behind. I believe the Inreach was purchased from Delorme and not an in house Garmin product. I remember when it happened a couple years ago I thought "Cool! they can really integrate with and build an awesome GPS system into one unit with everything in it!" But it really never happened.
With this unit completely integrating with a smart phone..... right down to satellite position and acquisition......maybe that is the "everything"........
I will never get one of these as it is tied to a smart phone. Standalone. Would love to, but the smart phone with their limitations kills it for me. The smart phone is fragile, internal battery dependent.
A standalone unit with replaceable AA batteries available anywhere is so much better. I know it would cost more, but It is something I would be in the market for.
There is yet another alternative called the Bivystick (see link). It doesn't seem as competitive, however. It's just a smaller/lighter version of the InReach that uses your phone. Costs are nearly identical to InReach.
Comparable to InReach: cost comparable to InReach, monthly plan is confusing but seems comparable, same 160 characters, same Iridium network.
Downsides: If your phone quits the Bivystick is useless. The Bivystick can't send a message by itself nor function as a GPS as the InReach does.
I was thinking of getting an InReach ... but I think I'll hold off, again. There are just a lot of downsides to all of these devices that seem like they should be correctable in the next few years. Cost still seems kind of high, too, though the geosynchronous satellites have decreased the cost some, it sounds like. It would be nice to text home, and buddies ... but overall, I don't see the cost:benefit, other than as some sort of SHTF/911 device.
Bringing back up. Has anybody tried the SatPaq or Bivystick yet?
There is down side to not having one. Like a broken femur from fall in back country, true story on that. I did the extraction. Anyway which ever you chose, buy it and carry it. Your life isnt worth waiting for a couple years for things to get better and cheaper.
What about yearly activation fees on these things? Above and beyond the message package?