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DeLorme and SPOT Combine Tech


See our DeLorme PN-60w page for the newest information.

It is a marriage that people have been wondering about for quite some time. I mean really… who didn’t think that the two most Orange products in the GPS industry were not meant to be together? All color-coded kidding aside, this is an idea I’ve been waiting to happen ever since the SPOT messenger came out. Next week at the CES Show, DeLorme and SPOT will announce a new product that combines DeLorme’s “serious tool” GPS with SPOT’s satellite communications and messaging.

DeLorme PN-40DeLorme’s handheld GPS devices are known most for their unmatched mapping abilities. $30 gets you unlimited USGS topo maps, DeLorme vector topos, color aerial photography and NOAA marine charts with a few clicks. Their devices are also popular among geocachers with the new Cache Register plugin that allows paperless geocaching. Their desktop software might not be the easiest thing in the world to use, but it isn’t short on power and flexibility.

spot-messengerSPOT on the other hand delivers a unique satellite messenger that lets you send a message back home letting people your trip is “OK”. Should you find yourself in a life threatening situation you can ping 911 and your GPS coordinates will be sent to an emergency response center.

The full details are still a bit sketchy at the moment, but the combined product is described as a handheld GPS with custom satellite messaging. We like the sound of that and hope that this allows room for a few more cereal bars in my backpack.


Caleb Mason from DeLorme has provided a few other tidbits of information in the DeLorme Forum:

The big new thing is users will be able to type short freeform messages, which they cannot currently due using SPOT, as it has no interface. So the first time the young dad takes the kids off hiking, he can reassure family back home that they arrived safely and all is well. Or request some forgotten meds be brought by someone joining them later. As well as perform the 911 emergency and tracking-to-the-Web services (facebook, geocaching.com, twitter, spotadventures, etc.)

There will be other very interesting wireless PN functionality coming as well, using new very low power 802.15.4 technologies. I imagine Chip will start posting soon on his blog. Meanwhile, many of us will be off for CES to see how this all flies. Release is still months away.

5 Responses

  1. Has the GPS reliability of the SPOT been addressed with this pairing? SPOT has been notorious (in the Northern hemisphere/continental US (at least with several of my traveling friends/acquaintances) for NOT functioning at all in many instances. I have read several reviews (personal and professional) indicating the same. This was attributed to the use of ‘aging’ GPS satellites with a poor coverage footprint, and non-continuous coverage instead of ones that are newer and cover the continental US better.
    Or have I been fed erroneous info about this??

    Richard - January 3rd, 2010
    • GPS isn’t an issue. The GPS satellite network is about as strong as ever and continues to be improved. Coverage is 100% of earth so long as you have a reasonable sky view. What I think you probably saw was references to the device’s ability to communicate back with the communication (not GPS) satellites to send your location. The device receives signals from the GPS satellites, processes your location, and then sends it back through a different set of communication satellites. The latter part is where there are sometimes issues.

      I drove with the SPOT for about 600 miles having it transmitting my location every 10 minutes. With all of those transmissions, it only missed one. Of course that is with a good sky view on highways, but I use it a couple of times per month in the wilderness as well. I’d say 90-95% of the transmissions go through. Not perfect, but in an emergency I’d rather have a 90% chance of sending a signal than a 0% chance.

      Tim - January 3rd, 2010
  2. Also…will it be bluetooth capable? Bike riders would LOVE to be able to HEAR the directions in a headset, instead of having to look at the screen!

    Richard - January 3rd, 2010
    • None of the current DeLorme GPS devices have voice prompts.

      Tim - January 3rd, 2010
  3. Further details if you missed them:
    DeLorme PN-60w & SPOT Messenger
    DeLorme Pn-60w, Digging Deeper

    Tim - January 11th, 2010

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