SpotX 2-way Globalstar satellite messenger, Viuho Inmarsat too

I’m a longtime fan of the DeLorme inReach as a two-way messenger, tracker, and safety device for boating (and other uses), especially when we wander beyond cellular coverage. Panbo inReach coverage goes back to 2011 and I’ve tested succeeding models right up through to the Garmin inReach Explorer+.  But competition can be a great thing, and, wow, it looks like Globalstar’s new Spot X delivers.

The abilities of Spot X seem entirely different from the older Spot satellite messengers. It can not only do two-way messaging like an inReach, but it includes a U.S. phone number that should make that feature easier for your friends and family to use. And while not Iridium (inReach) global, the claimed Spot X two-way coverage certainly includes most cruising and even offshore waters.

Spot X also challenges inReach with a $250 hardware price and truly annual service plans that may fit better with how many boaters use this type of device. But I would miss the onboard wireless connection and app that makes inReach messaging easy via phone or tablet, and I wonder if Spot’s abilities to store and share tracking and other info are as fully developed as the inReach features I so enjoyed last summer.

While I hope to boat test Spot X eventually, I was pleased to find this Gear Junkie hand’s on review and Andrew Skurka’s Spot X / inReach comparison.  Globalstar is also out with a smaller, less expesive Sat-Fi2 — their competition to the Iridium GO! — and RVInternetMobile nicely covers both.

Meanwhile, say hello to the completely new Viuho satellite messenger. While I doubt that competitors are alarmed — due to factors like high cost and slow tracking rates — I notice two more general items of interest. For one, Viuho is completely app controlled, except for an SOS button, while the Spot X is standalone and the inReach can be operated either way. While I prefer having both options — and highly value standalone messaging for distress situations — removing the handheld interface completely probably does make the product easier to use in the first place, and easy-to-learn is a big deal in our over gadgeted times.

Also, if you download the Viuho brochure, you’ll learn that it uses the Inmarsat satellite network, which I did not realize possible. And which also means that Iridium, Inmarsat and the improved Globalstar networks are all capable of handheld two-way messaging and all the other features that implies, like tracking, distress comms, and even succinct weather forecasts. Hopefully more competition is in works.


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

2 Responses

  1. Dreuge says:

    The lower retail price of $250 of the SPOT X washes away when one considers total cost with a service plan. The InReach month by month service options are a big win for consumers.

    While Garmin has come out with new InReach+ devices, the Delorme devices are still available new and fully supported. I just purchased the Delorme InReach Explorer for $199 minus a 10% discount at Cabela’s online. I made the decision to drop my old SPOT2 as they wanted over $170 for an annual service of which I only need a few months of service. Yea, this year I spent an additional $110 for an active (newer and better) device, but next year I’ll save $110 using the Delorme InReach Explorer over my old SPOT 2. It’s a win even is I use the Delorme for just two years.

    And with regards to the new SPOT X, it is still not as good as either the Delorme or Garmin units, and in the long run will cost much more for service.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Dreuge, but I don’t understand how you calculate that the Spot X service “will cost much more.” Of course that’s going to vary with how the device is used, but let’s compare middle of the road plans, Spot X Weekender Annual Plan at $200 versus inReach Recreational Freedom Plan at $35 a month.

      Granted, Spot X does not offer a monthly plan like Freedom that you can stop and start easily without penalty, but wouldn’t a typical cruising season be about five months, which is $175 worth of inReach Recreational Freedom plan and just $25 shy of Spot X’s 12 month Weekender cost. Both have unlimited tracking but Spot X’s can be every 5 minutes versus inReach’s every 10 minutes.

      The inReach plan includes 40 messages per month (200 for five months), $0.50 per extra message while Spot X offers 300 messages for the whole year, $0.25 per extra. So Spot X not only offers more messages per plan dollar but also lets you use them heavily for, say, a month’s cruise to Canada.

      Spot X seems to do fairly well in that comparison, plus you could use it during the other 7 months for a trip or hike or whatever. And, by the way, the inReach annual Recreational plan costs $300 with included messages still 40 max per month.

      Again, I’ve seen great performance from inReach for years, and have not tried the Spot X at all, but I’m not getting where you see how Spot X will “cost much more for service.”

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