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Hands-On: Spot Satellite Personal Tracker

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

You know the drill: “Hey Mom and Dad, make sure you call when you get there.” So you drive all day, set up in the RV park, and the last thing you want to do is get on the phone. The Spot Satellite Personal Tracker can make sure your kids know you made it to your
destination safely – and it can do much more.

Although such a device might be construed as standard issue for extreme adventurers, it’s actually more versatile for RVers.

The compact orange unit looks like a two-way radio, but it’s basically a waterproof housing with four buttons. Using satellite technology – not cell-phone support, which can be unreliable in certain locales – the Spot Tracker works hand-in-hand with a powerful Web site that allows anyone you choose to know where you’re at, within around 30 feet. It can also call for assistance should a breakdown occur (linked up with emergency road service) and, in personal emergency situations, send help and/or pluck you out by helicopter.

While the benefits from such a device are robust, simplicity is the theme here, with clearly marked buttons for activating the various functions. It takes only minutes to become familiar with the Spot’s features.

When you sign up for the service, you’ll get access to your own
personal space on the Web site. From here, you can designate friends and relatives as
recipients to your whereabouts, and contacts in the event of a breakdown or emergency. Once you get to your destination – or whenever you feel like letting everyone know where you’re at – you simply push the ok-check button. The Spot unit sends the signal to the satellite and your designees are informed via e-mail or text message on their cell phone. From there, they can link to a site that shows your location.

The device retails for $150 and basic
service for one year is $100, which allows you to check in with your contacts manually and
call for help; for an additional $50, you can upgrade service so your contacts can track
your progress every 10 minutes. The aforementioned GEOS search-and-rescue feature
(underwritten by Lloyd’s of London) can be added for the amazingly low price of $7.95, but
only at the time of registration. Regular cost is $150 a year. This service provides up to
$100,000 of coverage (two incidents a year at $50,000 of expenses per emergency).

The Spot
device runs on two AA lithium batteries and can operate for about one year on stand-by.
These same batteries will give you up to 1,900 manual location/help messages, signal an
emergency for up to seven consecutive days, or be in tracking mode for 14 days. LEDs inform
the user of the operational modes, and indicate the need to replace the batteries.

It’s fun to use when the trip is going well – and your kids will appreciate the consideration – but its ability to send help when mechanical or human body parts break down make it a very inexpensive investment for peace of mind.

And you don’t have to climb Mount Everest to use it!

For more information, call (866) 651-7768, or go to the company’s Web site.

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