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Garmin GPS w/ satcom

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Oh dang! Didn’t know Garmin had purchased DeLorme! This could be good…

DeLorme have been quietly “rebranding” for a while, but this seems to be the first product released under the Garmin name.

Yes it could. The current DeLorme inReach products work well as satellite communicators, but the basic GPS facilities are weak. For example there is no backdrop mapping or support for national map datums or coordinate grids. There is obvious potential for bringing in Garmin’s expertise in these areas. From the photos of the new products, it looks like they have incorporated mapping at least. I hope it hasn’t compromised battery life too much - my DeLorme Explorer uses about 20% of its charge on a typical day out whereas my Garmin GPS is lucky to get through the day without a battery change.

There is of course a risk in this takeover. DeLorme struck me from the outset as a small, strongly focused company. Customer service and technical support has been excellent. Whenever I’ve had an issue, it has been easy to get in touch with somebody who can deal with my problem efficiently and does not treat me like a complete idiot. There is an obvious risk that the technical experts will be firewalled behind a generic Garmin helpdesk and getting support will become the frustrating experience that it so often can be with large companies.

Of all the companies that could have taken over DeLorme, Garmin is probably the best we could have hoped for. Let’s just hope that they don’t lose the plot.

Martyn M1MAJ

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I bought a deLorme inReach very recently primarily for SOTA spotting and attempting to summon the cavalry if things have drastically gone wrong while in the wilderness. I dispensed with a Sat phone subscription in deference to deLorme.

While I laud Garmin for trying to stay competitive and relevant I find using the eTrex20 and BaseCamp to be a user experience from another era. Clunky, tough and painful are the words that spring to mind. Mike (KX6A) who is a S&R member made me aware of https://www.gaiagps.com and their products that run on a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and I’m amazed at the utility and exceptional user experience not to mention the minimal cost. For example, Garmin wants $100 for 24K topo maps for most US States and this can get super pricey if you aspire to being a Mountain Explorer of some stature. Gaia’s pricing is essentially simpler and far less expensive and much to my surprise maps are available at no extra cost for a recent trip to the UK.

So bottom-line, while I wish Garmin well I think that an iPhone or Android mapping/GPS is better longer term and Gaia has certainly addressed the power consumption issue as my iPhone 6+ hardly gets below 60% from full after 6 hrs of hiking (and tracking).

Paul

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Good stuff. I’ve started using my phone as primary nav GPS, and a Garmin GPS watch as a backup (and I use it for recording the track). And if I’m really remote, I have a compass and map as a backup to all that.

I agree: Garmin software and firmware is playing catch-up.

This is good news indeed. Delorme used to have some kind of JV with the maker of the Spot beacon. I have a spot in case of emergency. It works well as long as you do not have a canopy above your head. Delorme had an InReach product but no base map behind it, just a blank screen with an arrow. The InReach SE+ will be similar to that and you will have to link it to a smartphone if you want some kind of decent map. The InReach Explorer+ will have the background maps like a regular GPS + the 2-way satellite texting capability.

InReach uses the Iridium Satellite network which is probably better than the LEOs used by Spot. It looks like they have a tie-up with GEOS as well just like the Spot beacon used to have (along with Delorme).

So I think this is great news in general in terms of the development and will help with SOTA spotting. The one thing that is a bit sad is that it kind of kills the competition. Let’s hope there will be no price gouging on the horizon. I am also wondering what is going to happen to the company making the Spot beacons since they also had a tie-up with Delorme and now Garmin is clearly a huge threat to them.

Time will tell I guess.

I can’t argue with the global coverage offered by this system for texting (or even phoning) whether to place spots or contact friends and family from areas outside normal GSM coverage. However I am slightly wary of combining my ‘I’m in deep trouble alerting system’ with too many other battery draining systems e.g. Sat nav, routine comms etc. For the foreseeable future I think I will continue to carry a nav system plus back up and an entirely independent plb (no monthly charge and a couple of hundred £ for 5 years or so peace of mind including homing facility). I don’t think I need the guaranteed comms facility enough to fork out £11 or so a month. But each to their own and as a self-confessed tech fan, I’ll keep an eye on this development.