Sunday, August 31, 2014

DeLorme inReach SE 2-Way Satellite Communicator, first impressions and short term review

After having many failures of my SPOT messengers and after SPOT raised the subscription price (they call it free tracking) I decided to dump SPOT and give the Delorme InReach SE a try.

First impressions of the Delorme unit

#1.  It's expensive!  $300 for just the unit
#2   It does a lot of stuff that SPOT does not do
#3   It weighs the same as a SPOT
#4 the USB port cover looks flimsy and the mini USB charging port might   become a problem after repeated use.

The Delorme unit is nicer to use and gives you the ability to send and receive free form text messages, but there is a price.  I signed up for the annual safety plan, that plan gives me unlimited preset check in messages but charges me 50 cents for every free form text message.  The first ten message per month are free, but I found that if I send the same message to my spouses cell phone and email I get double charged.  The free form messages added up much faster than I expected them to before I figured this out.

The Delorme can only be charged via a mini USB port.  The port cover looks very flimsy and mini USB port in general seem to be a weak link in many products.

The Delorme can be synced to your computer so you can program it via the Explore Delorme website.  I'm pretty sure that you have to use the website to select recipients for pre set messages and to type in preset messages.

Syncing the Delorme has been somewhat problematic for me.  About every other time I go to Sync the device there is a required upgrade that I must install.  Sometimes the upgrade is easy to install and other times it is not.  Then after the upgrade is installed sometimes my computer can not see my Delorme and I have to reboot the computer a couple of times to get it to see the Delorme.  So I try to avoid syncing my device very often as the process of upgrading and then syncing can take over half an hour just depending on how well my computer handshakes with the Delorme on a given day.

The battery life of the Delorme is not what I had hoped for.  I have to leave the unit off most of the time or the battery just drains.  I don't use tracking and I dread to think how fast the battery must drain with tracking on.

After about three months of use my Delorme Inreach product began to display an error message.  I was 23 miles in on the PCT with 23 miles to go and my delorme began to display a message that said it was damaged and could no longer send or receive messages. The device said that I needed to contact customer support.  Great, just great.  So my spouse sat at home worried for three days because he was getting no messages from me.

When I used the SPOT he know that the think was very prone to breakage and if he did not get messages he would know that the SPOT had broken yet again.  But we did not expect the Delorme to be so fragile, so he was worried.  Now we know.

I ended my trip early because the Delorme broke and a few other reasons.  When I got home I called Delorme customer support and after spending about 20 minutes on hold I got through to a human.  I told the Delorme rep what had happened, he apologized and said he would rush ship me a new unit.  No questions asked, the new unit arrived after about 4 days.  Setting up the new unit was easy enough and now I'm on my way again.

I hope that the new unit lasts longer.  I fear that the Delorme device may be just as flimsy as the SPOT.  What will happen if this new one breaks in just a few months?  Will the Delorme customer service still be just as good or will they do like SPOT did and accuse me of being too hard on the units?

Note that I carry the same GPS, Digital Camera and IPod on all of my hikes and none of those deviced have ever broke.  I take good care of my gear, it's not my fault that the SPOT kept breaking and it's not my fault that my Delorme has already broken.

I'll keep you all posted and let you know how long this second Delorme unit lasts.  I beginning to think that satellite messengers fry their circuits just a little bit every time they send a message and are maybe only good for about one hundred messages each.

The first bill I got from Delorme was shocking, taxes upon taxes upon taxes, nearly 50% of the first bill was tax.  I was gobsmacked!  The montly bills are not taxed at the same rate, but that first bill was a real shock.

 I thought my inreach would have an adress that I could give to people, but it does not.The only way someone can send a message to my Inreach is to reply to a message that I sent to them or to go to my map page.

The Inreach is does have more sucess sending out messages than my SPOT unit had and sometimes it sends my messages out within seconds.  I have found that in the evening the inreach has more trouble finding satellites as they sink below the southern horizon.  Like the SPOT the Inreach might work better at more southern latitudes.

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