Delorme inReach 2-Way Satellite Communicator And Earthmate App [Review & Giveaway]


We live in a world where “staying connected” has become an integral part of our lives. Whether it’s email, text messages, or social networks, we’re constantly updating and being updated. It’s not always easy to keep that connection when we’re “off the grid.” We can’t always be within cellular coverage, and its at those times when the ability to connect could be most important. Whether you’re off hiking the Appalachians or simply casting a line at your favorite fishing spot, having the ability to stay in contact with those who matter as well as emergency services can bring a sense of well-being to any “off grid” activity.

That’s where the Delorme inReach 2-way satellite communicator comes in. Up until now, most satellite communication involved either basic satellite SOS emergency service, one-way advanced satellite messaging, or expensive satellite phone packages. Delorme’s latest product not only gives you the features of your advanced satellite messengers and emergency communicators, but is the first Iridium-based personal communicator to deliver truly global two-way communication.

The Delorme inReach 2-Way Satellite Communicator is a multifunctional standalone unit that allows users outside of cellular service to send pre-defined text messages and SOS alerts (with delivery confirmation) as well as enable remote tracking. Although the device works well on its own, it’s when you pair it with an Android device that you unleash its true potential. Since the people over at Delorme were kind enough to let me take their newest satellite communicator for a hike, we’re going to take a look at how the inReach performed, both as a standalone, and as a 2-way paired with an Android device.

Delorme inReach Standalone

As a standalone unit, the inReach can provide a great sense of security for those times when life takes you outside of your “coverage” area. The unit itself is lightweight, impact-resistant (meets Mil STD 810F), Waterproof (IPX7) and even floats. This way, no matter what the terrain or situation, you can feel safe knowing the inReach can handle it. The inReach is powered by 2AA lithium batteries that will last around 60 hours depending on use. The inReach has an easy to use push button interface with four simple buttons providing a wealth of functionality. With a simple push of a button, you can enable remote tracking (allows someone to follow your travels online), send pre-loaded text messages (which you create online at Delorme’s website), and alert emergency services with an SOS alert (with delivery confirmation).

Delorme inReach paired with an Android device and the Earthmate app

Pairing your inReach with an Android device and using the Earthmate app opens a whole new world of possibilities. Pairing your device enables exclusive two-way satellite messaging and interactive SOS. With the Earthmate app you can send and receive text messages (up to 160 characters), share location, post to Twitter and Facebook and enjoy free detailed DeLorme Topo North America maps. If an emergency should arise, you will have the ability to send detailed messages to emergency responders to ensure everyone is well informed and the appropriate actions are taken.

Field Test

To test out the Delorme inReach I decided to take it for a hike in an area that I knew lacked cellular service. I tested the device as both a standalone unit and paired with my Motorola DROID. I was able to test the majority of features minus the SOS of course. Earlier in the day I made sure to register online and set up my predefined text messages, contacts, and sharing options — I was ready to go!

I started by testing out the predefined text messages that can be sent by pushing the soft text message button on the inReach. You have the ability to send 3 separate predefined messages so I went ahead and tested all three. I had it set up to send the messages to my wife and each message found its way to her device with an average elapsed time of around 2 minutes. The inReach has an easy to see LED notification system to let you know your message has been sent or if you’re having trouble getting a clear satellite connection. This keeps you from wondering whether or not your message was sent and can help with peace of mind in an emergency situation.

Next I decided to test out the messaging through the Earthmate app and this time my wife was able to not only receive my texts, but also text me back. Having that 2-way communication in an area that lacked cellular coverage was nice and allowed me to pass information about how I was doing along to my wife. She was also able to follow my progress online ,and I was able to see where I was using the maps I had downloaded on the Earthmate app. I was impressed with the accuracy of my location and felt confident I could be found should an emergency arise.

After testing the inReach in quite a variety of landscapes, I found that it had trouble grabbing onto a satellite when large objects were around. This was frustrating at times and led to slower message relays. The good news, however, is that at least you’ll know whether or not your messages have been sent, this way you can adjust your position if you find you are having a difficult time in that particular area.

Overall, the inReach worked well beyond my expectation for being in a remote area where normally I’d have zero contact with the connected world. It also provided a sense of security knowing I could reach emergency responders if ever in an emergency situation. While I realize sometimes the goal of “going off the grid” is to get away from the “connected world,” being prepared for an emergency situation with a device like the inReach, is just sensible survival.

The inReach offers many other features, as well as tiered message plans to fit your level of need. You will need to sign up for a subscription plan in order to use the inReach so if you are interested and would like to learn more, I suggest visiting Delorme.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eu-AZK-2fE

Giveaway

We’re going to be giving one of you lucky adventurous readers an inReach of your own courtesy of the fine folks at Delorme. Since contests are tough and sometimes include social networks that you may not use, I’m going to go ahead and give you guys a multitude of chances to win. You’ll be able to enter once per entry method and each one will increase your chances of winning.

First – subscribe to our deals and giveaways mailing list found below:


Second – add +Cult of Android to one of your circles on Google+.

Third – follow @CultofAndroid on Twitter.

Fourth – like us on Facebook Cult of Android | Facebook.

Fifth – Leave a comment with a short story of how the inReach would have come in handy during a trip or experience you had or how you plan to use the inReach should you win.

Now you only need to complete the first method to be entered to win, but you will gain an additional entry for each of the other 4 methods you choose to complete. The contest will last until 11:59PM PST Sunday February 5th, and a winner will be picked and announced sometime during the week. Good luck!