SPOT X "group messaging" feature now available

Melensdad

Jerk in a Hawaiian Shirt & SNOWCAT Moderator
Staff member
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I don't know if this is available on the SPOT Gen 4 one way communicators.

But I just noticed the feature on the SPOT X, it allows for group messaging. I had not noticed it previously so perhaps I'm an idiot? Or maybe it was included in the prior firmware update and I just never noticed it. Honestly no clue, but it MUST be set up on the web portal, then "synced" to your unit to work.

In any case it is something I had hoped they would add but just found.

With any satellite communicator the messages typically send slow and received slow. Sometimes you want to send the same message to multiple people, not necessarily and emergency message. Also not necessarily a simple 'check in' message.

SPOT X now has GROUPS, so I set up a group that includes my wife & daughter. Another group I call FAMILY which adds in some additional family members. SPOT X allows for up to 70 different 'contacts' and each group takes up 1 of those 'contacts'. My SPOT X contact list only has key people I need to stay in contact with for emergencies so I only have a small number of contacts. Adding a couple "groups" didn't really change that because the new "groups" are filled with subsets of my existing contacts so I am still well below the 70 allowed contacts.

The beauty of the GROUPs is that I don't have to type up the same message multiple times and send it multiple times. If I understand it correctly if there are 2 people in the group it still counts as 2 outgoing messages. 3 people in the group = 3 outgoing messages. But it makes it much easier to communicate with multiple people. I can now send multiple people one of my free/unlimited 'pre-defined' messages, of which I have 14 different messages allowed to be saved in my SPOT X.

I can send multiple people a 'custom' message, of which my plan allows for 120 'free' custom messages per year, if I go over 120 custom messages then I pay a small fee per message.
  • Of note, a reply to one of my messages is considered 1 custom message.
  • So if I send + receive a custom message, that counts as 2.
  • If I send one of my 14 'pre-written' message + receive a reply, that counts as 1 message.
  • To save on fees, most of my 14 'pre-written' messages include the statement "reply to my CELL # unless it is an emergency" so I will get a standard text message reply from the person at my regular cell number if I just send them a simple "Stopped for a meal break" or "Stopped for the night" type of canned message ... if I am out of cell coverage then I will receive that text next time I am in a cell coverage area.
After logging into the SPOT website, if you select your device, you then go to the EDIT DEVICE SETTINGS, that takes you to the next screen. Under the CONTACTS menu you have several options. Clicking on MY CONTACTS opens up a window. There are now 3 options. CREATE NEW CONTACT - CREATE NEW GROUP - DELETE MULTIPLE CONTACTS

If you click on the CREATE NEW GROUP you get a new window that asks you to NAME the group, then you simply select the people you want in the group. Hit the SAVE button when done and you now have a new group that shows up in your list of contacts. You have to SYNC your SPOT X with your computer at this point to get the group uploaded into your SPOT X.


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The SPOT X still seems to be the best satellite communicator/tracking device for simple communications. A satellite phone obviously would be a better tool but it would also be totally overkill for most backpacking, bicycle or motorcycle trips that include some on road and some off the beaten path adventuring.

I just did another comparison of features and costs comparing SPOT X with Zoleo, Garmin InReach and ARC BivyStick, which are the 4 major brands of compact satellite communicators. All include a simple SOS button to call in the cavalry should you have a light threatening crash, emergency, etc. All include a simple "check in" feature. Only SPOT X functions as a true fully functional stand-alone device. Garmin is capable of being used as a stand alone device for only very simple communication, but generally requires a connection to a cellphone for full functionality. Zoleo & ARC BivyStick require a cellphone for communication functionality. ARC's BivyStick, Garmin's InReach and Zoleo include the ability to check the weather, if you are off grid in a very remote area, this could be very useful; SPOT does not include that functionality. Zoleo includes the ability to communicate through either Satellite or Cellular towers but also requires your cellphone to be connected to the unit, so I don't really understand the point of sending a signal from a cell phone to a sat-com to a cell-tower just to send a simple text message ... maybe I'm missing something but if I have the ability to reach a cell tower with my phone then why would I need the Zoleo to do it for me? SPOT X also has the most economical messaging, with unlimited use of 15 different messages that you program into your unit which can pretty much say anything you want them to say if you can fit them into a SMS format. And SPOT X lets you send those FREE of charge to as many of the 70 contacts you have stored into your unit as you want. No other brand has anything that compares to that flexibility included in their basic plan.
 

Doc

Bottoms Up
Staff member
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Bob, what is the monthly fee for the SPOT X with features you mentioned above.
 

Melensdad

Jerk in a Hawaiian Shirt & SNOWCAT Moderator
Staff member
GOLD Site Supporter
Bob, what is the monthly fee for the SPOT X with features you mentioned above.
I think it is $12.95 a month.

However, if you pay for the entire year in 1 payment, you get front loaded all of your custom messages so you can use them whenever you want, which is great for motorcycle use because the season is not a 12 month season.

Please understand that it takes several minutes to send a message, not seconds. So it is not like a cellphone. 2 way text conversations are nothing like cellular texting.

I'd also point out that there are several other brands out there, depending on your use, one of the other brands may be more suitable to your needs. BivyStick from ARC, ZOLEO and Garmin are viable choices too. I'm still very happy with my SPOT X, it suits my needs.
 

Doc

Bottoms Up
Staff member
GOLD Site Supporter
Thanks Bob.

I ride back roads an very often find myself with no cell coverage. Plus I work on my 48 acres, mostly wooded. 3+ miles of trails and I could be anywhere. i start working in one area and move to another. No cell coverage for 75% of my property. Lots of steep hills though. In places there is not a clear view of the sky due to trees. If an accident happened it would save time and maybe my life if I could communicate and they'd know my position.

I saw on the SPOT X site one plan for $4.95 per month. Trying to figure out what all that gets me vs the $12.95 plan.

Have you heard of 'SpotWalla'? I'm not sure what it is or how it fits in. It came up in my search. I've also looked at the cell phone app Life360 and Find My iPhone but with those you have to have a cell signal. Life360 can show a trail of where you were and direction (steps) which gives a good clue to your location.

Here is a little more on what I found on the SpotWalla site:

Spotwalla.JPG
 

Melensdad

Jerk in a Hawaiian Shirt & SNOWCAT Moderator
Staff member
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I'm familiar with Spotwalla but have never tried it.

If working on your property and there is no clear path the to sky you may find it difficult to actually use any satellite communicator.

On rural roads it works fine.
 
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Doc

Bottoms Up
Staff member
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For now I'm going to use the free app Life360. It will show a path to where I am and all I have to carry is the cell phone. I'm not riding much now so till late March I really don't want to pay 12 a month for something I'm not using. If this works, great. If not I'll migrate to a paid gps satellite service late spring.
 
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