Great Device -- I Love It!!!
I bought the Inreach SE in early July 2013 for my son to carry on a solo through-hike of the 500-mile Colorado Trail. He is 1 1/2 weeks into the trip. It was purchased for SOS rescue capability and two-way text communication.
Bottom line--It works GREAT!!! Setup was quick and hassle-free. We used the free test messaging from home prior to the trip to insure everything worked. We are now reliably sending text messages back and forth from the trail, summits of Elbert and Massive, etc. It is fantastic to know his location, what is happening, how he is feeling, etc. We also expect to use this near the end of his trip to coordinate pickup details.
He used a SPOT on a recent John Muir Trail Trip, which worked as advertised. But the two-way messaging of the Inreach SE is truly valuable and remarkable. I recommend the Inreach SE over the SPOT.
Battery life has been great. He uses 10-minute tracking when he goes off trail to climb 14ers. Otherwise he turns the Inreach on only to send and receive messages or locations. The Inreach SE has a function that allows the user to check for messages on demand, rather than waiting for the usual 20-minute check interval. (When tracking is turned on it checks for messages as each track point is sent, default is every 10 minutes.) After 1 1/2 weeks his battery is at 90% charge. It will easily last without charging for the full 500 miles using this mode of operation.
He is carrying an Iphone 5, which connects easily via Bluetooth to the Inreach SE. He carries the Iphone primarily as a GPS, using the Delorme Earthmate app; and also for occasional cellular calls when in range of cell towers.
He posts to Twitter directly from the Inreach SE for public messages, and sends private messages to the family. We have shared the tracking map URL with friends who are following his progress. The interface is a little clunky, but it works well once the user has learned it.
We are using the Recreation Plan which provides 40 customized messages/month. We are using about 2-3 text messages/day. He also sends free pre-set text messages and occasional track points for additional location-type communication.
We programmed the three pre-set messages to: "Things are going great!", "Stopping here for the day to camp." and "I'm at a really great location." We use the regular text messages for any additional communications.
I am transferring all messages/locations to Google Earth so he will have a great record of his trip route and personal messages.
My only complaint is that Delorme is still refining their associated website. The sync capability is not yet working so you cannot transfer pre-set messages, contacts etc. from the website to the Inreach SE. This is not a huge problem, but it has an annoying side effect. Email addresses or phone numbers entered in the Inreach SE's contacts use part of the 160 characters allocation for each message. For example, a 10-character email address subtracts 10 characters from the message character limit, leaving only 150 for the actual message. Delorme says they will fix this "soon". But for now, Delorme is falsely advertising the ability to send 160-character messages.
All in all -- I love this device. There is no other affordable device with its capabilities. And it works simply and as advertised!
LIke it so far...
I just picked up and activated the inReachSE - so far, great. The unit has performed the basic tracking and message sending/receiving, including publishing tracks to the online, sharable map. The setup/activation step included a fairly standard registration process, followed by billing and a mandatory firmware update - all worked fine, with no problems or odd behaviors.
As a bit of background I have just come from 4+ years of using the SPOT1, followed by (2) SPOT2 GPS Messenger units (one died mid-trip). I decided I wanted the messaging feedback that the inReachSE provides, plus usage of the Iridium, vs Globalstar satellite network.
Like many reviewers even though I've used the SPOT units for many, many trips, I still am never quite sure if a message will go through, nor after what delay periods. I'd say 95% of my thousands of messages/tracks have gone through just fine. But it was the unpredictable behavior that drove the desire to switch to the new inReachSE product.
The inReachSE is easy to use, but perhaps that's because I've become very familiar with the way these things are supposed to work after years of SPOT. The shared map is fine (although only one "shareable" map is available, vs many with the SPOT). The iOS app works fine so far with my iPhone5 and iPad Mini. In fact I'd say the ability to cache Delorme maps on the iOS devices is pretty neat - once the maps are cached, the iOS device mapping feature of the inReach app works fine even without cellular/WiFi coverage. I may be able to sell one of my handheld GPS units, or at least carry one less GPS device for basic GPS/location needs.
The user interface on the inReachSE is fine. Easy to use and read. As of writing this review, the "sync" feature is not yet active yet. Once it becomes available (soon, according to Delorme), it will be possible to download contacts, etc into to inReachSE unit. As it is now, manual entry of email/SMS addresses prior to outgoing messaging is necessary if no iOS/smartphone is available. Not a big deal. And if a smartphone/tablet is paired, then the app pulls from the native smartphone address book - sweet. The smartphone/tablet can be in "airplane" mode, with BT re-activated and it will still work.
I've only done a few tracks, and in urban areas. No review yet on performance under cover/brush. Based on other reviews elsewhere, I predict the GPS portion of the reliability will be as good or better than the SPOT2 and new SPOT3. The big benefit is Iridium vs. Globalstar, plus the ability to have real message confirmation plus two-way basic messaging.
The inReachSE has microUSB recharging - worked great from my GoalZero Guide10+ unit. The unit is bigger than SPOT - about the size of a handheld GPS unit of a few years ago.
Very, very good
This thing just makes sense. If you are off the grid and something happens, how are you going to get out? Who's going to come get you? How will you let someone know you need help? How much time do you have before a broken leg goes from painful annoyance to life-threatening? Do you need full-on search and rescue evacuation, or just a buddy to come in and help you limp out? These are the questions that prompted me to buy this thing and so far i am very pleased. I have tested this thing extensively around home while on the grid and off-grid for the first time last weekend on a backpacking trip in the canyons of southern Utah . Set up was fast and simple and worked perfectly. It did prompt me to do a firmware upgrade when I first logged in. That took about 5 minutes and was completely uneventful. Using this in the field is simple and intuitive. The txting interface is a bit cumbersome (versus what we're all now accustomed to with smartphones) but it works fine. Sending messages is a little slower than a smart-phone. When I would send a message it took 2-3 minutes to get a send confirmation - but I was also in canyons so that likely impacted the time it took to hook up with a satellite. Unlike Spot and emergency beacons, the ability to have 2-way txt communication is great. There are lots of situations to communicate between "I'm OK" and "Send a helicopter now!" The inReach allows you to explain exactly what kind of help you need and guide folks in accordingly. I suppose the one thing I don't like about this thing is that now I am not truly off the grid anymore. While I'll miss the sense of complete disconnection, the peace of mind this thing gives me is worth it. If you look at the reviews you'll see people either love this thing or they hated it. The negative reviews all seem to be attributed to initial set-up of the unit. All I can tell you is that my set up was easy and hassle free. One other thing worth mentioning about this unit is Search and Rescue insurance. Who is going to pay (sounds awfully expensive) for backcountry helicopter extraction? The answer is you - unless you make prior arrangements. DeLorme partners with GEOS for SAR coordination. For $18 a year you can purchase insurance from them that will cover $100K of search and rescue costs should you ever need them. Seemed like an absolute no-brainer to me. A long-winded review, but I am overall very pleased with this unit.
Finally, a great satellite communicator!
This is the 3rd satellite communication device I've owned. First was a Spot generation one. It was quite reliable, but limited because you could only send one of three preset messages, plus SOS. And of course you were transmitting in the blind.
Second was a Spot Connect. It enabled me to create messages in the field, but had serious shortcomings. First, the Bluetooth interface with my iPhone was very clunky and frequently unreliable. And if it didn't pair with the phone, it couldn't send messages (other than SOS). Second, it had terrible "vampire" battery drain when the device was supposedly off -- batteries would go dead within days if left in the device. I had to put batteries in and take them out each time I used it. Finally, it still had the problem of being a one-way device -- you send a signal in the blind and have no idea if it was received.
I got my new InReach SE just before Christmas. It solves all the shortcomings of the Spot Connect. First, it is very easy to use, and is a stand-alone device -- it does not require pairing with my iPhone (although the iPhone can be easily paired with it whenever you chose, enabling faster typing of messages). Second, while I haven't used it enough yet to determine how long the battery charge lasts while sending messages, at least when it is turned off there seems to be no battery drain. Finally, it is a two-way device, and can receive messages from others. Now I KNOW my message was received. Also the InReach messages can have over 3 times as many characters as Spot Connect. The world-wide coverage of the InReach is also a plus compared to the primarily North America coverage of the Spot. Physically the device is quite light, relatively compact, and seems well made.
Initial set up, which some reviewers have complained about, was pretty smooth. I ran into a hitch with getting it to synch with my computer, but a call to InReach resolved the problem (for some reason my Internet Explorer browser was thwarting the software download; at the suggestion of the InReach tech I downloaded and used Google Chrome browser and from there everything went very easily).
Time will tell, but so far I am VERY happy with the InReach SE.
Does Everything It's Supposed To
The SE is the smaller form factor of the original inReach I was hoping for. It works exactly as advertised. On the second day after activating my subscription, I took a motorcycle ride along the Angeles Crest Highway near Los Angeles. The road is 70 miles of remote mountain road to the north of L.A. Intent was to test ability of the device to communicate in mountains with occasional shields to north and south satellites. This same road causes my XM radio signals to drop out when on certain north faces. In the case of the inReach, it is able to send track points on both north and south faces. I had to complete the last half of the route in the dark. In the last 10 miles, I had to negotiate a rock debris field across the road. Guided my front tire through okay, but rolled a large rock under the motorcycle oil sump. Well, in a half mile, the oil light came on. Immediately pulled off in a turnout and watched the remainder of my oil drain out. NO cell phone coverage. It was getting late, cold, and stranded on a remote stretch of road. In the next 30 minutes I did not see another car go by. Used the text messaging directly from the SE unit to summon my son to come get me. Within 2 hours I was headed off the hill. The two-way messaging is fantastic as is the confirmation that a message was received. My son acknowledged receiving the request for extraction and gave me an update along the way to let me know he was starting up the hill. Saved me from spending a cold night at 7500 ft. One great thing is inReach uses the Iridium satellite network. I can't be more specific, but it is the most secure, most robust and reliable of this type of system out there. The free maps that go with the service subscription are great too. When you send a "map share" message, the receiver gets the same detailed map with tabbed choices of aerial, topo, or roads. Good job DeLorme.
So close to perfection...
The InReach SE is close to perfection. My only knock with it is for a feature request I knew it didn't have when I bought it. Everything the inReach SE claims to be it is...
*Super easy to send texts as a standalone device or through BT paired smartphone
*Battery life is fantastic
*Online account and contact/data sync works as advertised. Mapshare option is a great way to send messages or update your location viewable to multiple people while only being charged for 1 message
*Highly functional and useful smartphone app with detail-rich, downloadable topo maps
*Standard microUSB charge/sync connection
*Reasonable service options that cover multiple intended uses
In short, everything works as advertised and any moderately tech savvy person can choose an appropriate subscription plan, activate the unit, sync via the online interface, and send texts/location updates to anyone and everyone.
So why 1 star short of perfection? Well, I might be different than most but I don't own a GPS and I hate trying to read topo's from a small screen. For that reason I always have a full-sized paper map wherever I'm hiking/backpacking. The inReach would be the perfect device if it simply added a menu option to view current coordinates. While viewing coordinates is possible with a paired smartphone, I don't want to be anywhere near my phone when I'm backpacking.
Perfection for me would be to call up my location on the inReach if needed, then find my exact location on a paper topo. Hopefully a future firmware update will add this feature. When and if it does, we've reached perfection.
Love my InReach
I used the InReach on a 65 Day expedition across Baffin Island this summer firstly to send daily communications to basecamp letting them know we were ok and our location. We also used it to write status updates to a facebook page that includes an interactive map. It was also handy to send and receive messages to emails or cell phones- our satelite phone was difficult to keep powered up and took longer to receive txt messages, so we just used the InReach more. Lastly it was always there for SOS emergency, thankfully we didn't have to use that function. Paired with the Iphone it also works like a GPS with detailed TOPO maps and is easy to send or receive messages to anyone in my contact list. The battery life was long and was easy to keep going 65 days in the arctic with a very small solar panel and was very quick and effective at sending and receiving, I have had trouble with other companies similar devices not being able to send even an ok signal especially in deep river canyons and the arctic! The only thing I wish the inreach could do was send photographs. It streamlines all communication from the field and literally replaces the need to have Satellite phone, GPS, emergency beacon, and updating communication device. it held up well with exposure to water, drops on rock and the cold.
flawless communication device
I run an adventure tourism company based in the canadian arctic, offering trips to the north pole, south pole, crossings of greenland etc. So we use the In reach as a way of communicating with home base current locations with short messages, communicating two way important messages and just in case of an emergency as an SOS emergency beacon. Some clients even use this product to update their Facebook page with custom messages and share their location on social media sites. The InReach is more reliable and quicker transmitting than other products in its class, north of the arctic circle or in deep canyons or gorges we have had trouble getting the spot device to even send an "ok" message, But thats not the case with the InReach. In extreme northern latitudes and deep canyons the Delorme InReach still is able to perform all functions and send any message/communication needed. The battery life is great and easy to keep fully charged with a small solar panel. I am sold on the many uses of this lightweight, durable GPS Communication device. I would totally recommend this to anyone looking for real piece of mind anywhere in the outdoors.
PLB/Texting/Location Tracking Goodness
Simple set-up, sending and receiving messages in less than 5 minutes out of the box. Pairs with one device at a time and retains pairing when powered off and on. Codeless bluetooth pairing is much appreciated and quick. Provides GPS information to apps on WiFi only iPad (MotionX, Gaia...). Satellite locks were quick, less than a minute. Paths were smooth and consistent with 33 foot accuracy indicated by device. Battery life stated as "100s of hours per charge". I operated for 2 days straight and still had 60% power remaining. Message confirmation indicator lights and sounds make for easy monitoring. Composing messages with the d-pad is tedious, but doable, simple with smart phone or pad. The device's display is bright and easily read in daylight. Buttons depressions are crisp and SOS button sufficiently protected with sliding lock. It, thankfully, does not try to be a GPS mapping device, just location services.
Since it has many uses beyond emergency SOS calls means I'm more likely to keep it charged and with me.
If it had a solar panel on the back for self charging, I'd call it perfect!
I recently switched from a spot second generation to this unit due to poor reliability of the spot message getting through and no response from Spot after contacting them several times.
This unit gives you confirmation the message was sent and you can also receive text message replies. After 2 trips in all kind of weather and terrain this unit has performed flawlessly. Every message I have sent has gone through and every response has come through to me. The tracking feature is great and easy to use. So far battery life has not been an issue but it would become one on longer trips. I used it for 5 days and used @50% of the built in rechargeable battery. I have not looked in to chargers yet so I do not know how well they work. So far I am 100% more impressed with this unit over the spot unit and the customer service has been great so far.