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Adventure Tech: SPOT Announces Third Generation Satellite Messenger

Monday, 29 July 2013

On the eve of the start of the summer Outdoor Retailer gear convention, SPOT has announced the release of its new third generation Satellite Messenger. The new device, which is available at retail now, features some significant upgrades over previous SPOT devices, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to travel through the backcountry more safely then ever before.

Perhaps the biggest upgrade with the SPOT Gen3 is in the area of battery life. The new model can operate twice as long between charges as compared to previous models, which were already fairly energy efficient. That extra battery life is put to good use in terms of tracking as well, allowing this new device to update its location more regularly. The SPOT Gen3 is capable of sharing its location every 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes, allowing friends and family to trace your path while out on an outdoor adventure. There is even a new mode that will allow the unit to share precise locations every 2.5 minutes, which my friends who are race directors for adventure races will surely appreciate. There is even a new mode that automatically sends tracking information when the SPOT Gen3 is moving but quits transmitting when it has stopped. This motion sensor will help save battery life while still providing regular updates on the users progress.

Speaking of battery life, the new SPOT device has improved in that department while also adding more ways to keep it powered. It can be operated using standard AAA batteries of course but the device now has the option for using rechargeable power cells or run off a direct connection from a USB power source as well. This lends a nice level of versatility to the Gen3 Messenger and means that there are more ways for us to keep it functioning while out in the field.

As with previous versions of the device, the new model allows users to send an S.O.S. message when they get into trouble or send pre-canned message to let friends and family know that they are okay. This simple, yet effective, messaging system is at the heart of what SPOT was intended for and the company claims that since it's launch a few years back, SPOT Messengers have been responsible for more than 2300 rescues worldwide.

The Gen3 model looks a bit larger than the older versions of the Messenger. It has also received a redesign that includes larger buttons and integrated loops designed to make it easer to use and carry. The unit remains waterproof and ruggedized of course, allowing it to take plenty of abuse while in the field.

I have an appointment to meet with the folks at SPOT while I'm at OR in a few days. I'll post some impressions on their new products, including the new SPOT Global Phone when I get the chance.

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