Satellite Communicator

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4x4tripping

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I did use satelite messenger at 2012 for my transafrica, and later at 2015 too for south america.

It can do more than just be a emergency communication device.

You can bring livetracking to friends / family or public Blog,
You can use email 2 Blogpost - to update your Blog
You can use 2-way messaging, what can be helpful

I would recommend these for travelling out of cell coverage. You have 2 Network Options - Spot or Iridium - and different Companys who offers the hardware and Apps.

I did a comparison of spot vs garmin(delorme) - where you can see the coverage of the networks: Spot vs Garmin (inReach) - 2 Weg Satelliten Messenger

The device you did mention, is using the irridium network.

trippin
 
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Kerner

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We've got the Zoleo and have been really happy with it. Haven't used it a ton, but the way it switches between cellular, wifi, and satellite is really nice. One thing I would add is that we don't need any of the automatic, follow me tracking. It would be nice but it's not at all essential for the way we travel.
 

MarioT'sCJResto

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Buy it with your discount at the Overland Bound Store: Zoleo Satellite Communicator
It's on my list for this year, and only from our Team Store.

I actually use GPS trackers that my friends and family can access with an app to see my locations at all times, but I really like the ability here to send out ER text messages if needed.
 
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FishinCrzy

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Still seems like a decent deal just for the emergency function and out of cell capabilities. Reviews online were about how ya'll are describing. Think I'm gonna pull the trigger on it. I was going to get mapping on a yet to be purchased gps tablet like a Galaxy S8. Thanks!
 
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Road

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Anyone used one of these? Looks like a good price for what it does. If it werks.
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Hey man, I know you're asking for opinions from those who have used a Zoleo, and I haven't, so my opinion here doesn't really mean squat as far as hands-on experience.

I'm interested, though, in what else you find out.

...

For what it's worth, here's my long-winded take, after considering Zoleo for my own adventures:

- It's down to $149.95 right now on Amzn, REI, & Cabela's; which beats more established sat device pricing all to hell.

- The user comments from verified purchasers in the 1, 2, & 3 star reviews are concerning enough though, especially for an SOS device, to make me hold off until it has more time under it's belt and more long-term users. I waited with Spot, too, and am glad I did.

- Too many Zoleo users complain they felt roped into a registration fee and a non-refundable 90 day term before they could suspend monthly payments. Hard to swallow for those who wanted it for just the next week-long trip. You're planning a longer adventure than most, so that may be a moot point.

- The oldest end-user review I could find for Zoleo was only just over a year old, because it is so new to the market. All but one of the article reviews I could find are from when it first came out, too. Next to none were written by anyone who used it for more than a short review period. I've learned to not pay much attention to adventure site or outdoor zine reviews on products unless they profile longer-term end-users. Otherwise the reviews often lean more to hype and "game-changer" statements than fact or real experience over time.

** More importantly--at least from what I can tell--Zoleo has no continuous tracking to relay up-to-date coordinates in a timely fashion to intended recipient. Meaning, when you tap send (to partner/family/whoever), it may or may not send your current coordinates, but those it last recorded. For some users it did not send any. May have been user error, but the impression is it was frustrating for too many. If purchasing primarily for location updates and SOS situations, I'd like to know it is consistently more current and is more idiot-proof.

** There is no way to see how many messages you have left for the month on your chosen plan. Or whether msgs were sent via cell or sat connection or both, which for users has affected monthly pricing and sometimes their cell data plan. I also read too many comments that if you're sending a msg to more than one person back home at the same time (partner + parents, or whatever other combo) it may ding you the cost per msg for each person, even though sent at the same time, and a fee for sending through both cell and sat simultaneously; incurring more charges than expected. The advertised .50/msg became 2.00/msg pretty quick for too many users.

** It has no on-screen mapping; Zoleo is messaging only. Meaning you'll need another device for maps and on screen-tracking, if that's your desire.

If I'm away from my vehicle in back country situations--like overnights in canoe, on my bike, or on foot, whether emergency or recreation, I'd rather have one device tethered to me that provides GPS mapping, up-to-date coordinates, and SOS capabilities when needed, not two or more to achieve the same functionality.

Those are my first impressions. All of which look at potential use in worst-case scenarios; which is the primary reason I'd get an SOS device plan in the first place. As an everyday communicator, to just keep friends/family up to date on a regular basis on one's whereabouts, too many longer-term users have felt duped by Zoleo's "hidden" fees and lack of up-to-date, accurate, tracking.

That said, Rob, I've had a Garmin Inreach Explorer + since July 2017. I'm certainly not the most experienced explorer out here, by far, though have been all over hell and back on numerous long-term solo adventures and have never had to use it for emergency mapping, SOS msgs, or regular satellite messaging. Nice to know it's there for an emergency, though to date it's mostly been an expensive gadget I haven't really used.
.
 
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FishinCrzy

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@Road , thanks for the reply. Your experience in all things related to remote travel is greatly appreciated. I don't recall too many/or any that have spent more time in the wild than you....and maybe Jerimiah Johnson! LOL! And JJ isn't on the interwebs. I will continue to refine my needs and I'm not too sure what exactly those are yet, but time is ticking down and I really need to commit to and emergency locator at least. There aren't but a few people, and the government of course, that I really need to keep in the loop and that's a pretty loose loop since they will be many miles away. Since I have the vaccination chip installed the government can find me if I get to owing them more money :astonished:. I think I would like to keep maps in addition to some paper maps in a tablet for occasional reference. Getting semi-lost, broke down, injured, etc., doesn't seem so bad if I can push a button and there is a 90%?? chance they will find me before I'm deaded. There are numerous choices on the market. Maybe an EPIRB is all I need? Last time I looked they weren't too cheap either but the chances of getting help may be higher and, I can think of some times on the water it might be useful as well.

I'm not planning to go very far into the wilderness alone without something that gives me a chance to communicate. And, a weapon to send immediate signals! :grinning: Seriously, Before I go drifting down a canyon or something like that I shall let somebody nearby with some incentive know when I am supposed to be out so they can collect there reward for my safe return. In other words, I may have to pay somebody to give a shit where I am! I'm ok with that. I don't plan to be a statistic. I plan to cover the bases as best I can until I feel just enough anxiety to make it interesting. Hell, I never though I would git this far! Thanks again for your interest and advice.
 
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oneleglance

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I started with the Spot but switched to the Garmin/Delorme InReach a few years back and have used it around the world and love it.
Very reasonable price and plans, I can message to a cell phone, email or another InReach if we are both out of coverage.
The tracking makes my friends and family enjoy living through my trips and keep an eye on me.....which means no stopping at places I shouldn't along the way :)
 
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DRAX

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- Too many Zoleo users complain they felt roped into a registration fee and a non-refundable 90 day term before they could suspend monthly payments. Hard to swallow for those who wanted it for just the next week-long trip. You're planning a longer adventure than most, so that may be a moot point.
I would argue that it's not Zoleo's fault they didn't read the terms that are clearly laid out on the website showing the plans, pricing, and terms. If it's a general "I wish I could" complaint, ok, but to say they feel roped in or surprised by the activation fee and not being able to suspend service within the first 90 days is not Zoleo's fault and they shouldn't be dinged. It's like the 1-star Amazon reviews where they complain about something that was clearly mentioned in the product description as not being included.

My wife has a Garmin inReach Mini with slightly different terms. It also uses the Iridium network, but has a $30 activation fee and $35/yr maintenance fee to be able to suspend service when not needed. Say you use the device 2 months a year...

Garmin's cheapest flexible plan for the first year would be $30 activation + $35 maintenance + $15/mo x 2 = $95 for the first year, then $65/yr after that.
Zoleo for the same would be $20 activation + $20/mo x 3 + $4/mo x 9 = $116 for the first year and then $80/yr after that ($20/mo x 2 + $4/mo x 10).

That also doesn't include the current $200 price difference between the inReach Mini and Zoleo, that right there would pay for basically the first 2 years of Zoleo's basic service based on using it 2 months out of the year.

I am very tempted to pick up some sort of satellite communicator for myself, there have been times where my wife is out backpacking and I'm camping, I don't have cell service to stay in contact/receive updates, and either the terrain or distance prevents radio communication. It's one of those things where the cost causes hesitation but it would take just one incident to make it worthwhile. It's insurance. Sucks to pay for but glad you have it when you need it. The generally-positive reviews on the Zoleo and the sale going on makes it tempting to pick up and hold onto until I was a good time to activate it.
 

Road

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I would argue that it's not Zoleo's fault they didn't read the terms that are clearly laid out on the website showing the plans, pricing, and terms. If it's a general "I wish I could" complaint, ok, but to say they feel roped in or surprised by the activation fee and not being able to suspend service within the first 90 days is not Zoleo's fault and they shouldn't be dinged. It's like the 1-star Amazon reviews where they complain about something that was clearly mentioned in the product description as not being included.

My wife has a Garmin inReach Mini with slightly different terms. It also uses the Iridium network, but has a $30 activation fee and $35/yr maintenance fee to be able to suspend service when not needed. Say you use the device 2 months a year...

Garmin's cheapest flexible plan for the first year would be $30 activation + $35 maintenance + $15/mo x 2 = $95 for the first year, then $65/yr after that.
Zoleo for the same would be $20 activation + $20/mo x 3 + $4/mo x 9 = $116 for the first year and then $80/yr after that ($20/mo x 2 + $4/mo x 10).

That also doesn't include the current $200 price difference between the inReach Mini and Zoleo, that right there would pay for basically the first 2 years of Zoleo's basic service based on using it 2 months out of the year.

I am very tempted to pick up some sort of satellite communicator for myself, there have been times where my wife is out backpacking and I'm camping, I don't have cell service to stay in contact/receive updates, and either the terrain or distance prevents radio communication. It's one of those things where the cost causes hesitation but it would take just one incident to make it worthwhile. It's insurance. Sucks to pay for but glad you have it when you need it. The generally-positive reviews on the Zoleo and the sale going on makes it tempting to pick up and hold onto until I was a good time to activate it.
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They make the 90day no refund clearer now, yes. Like any new product a company puts out, there is a time frame in which they respond to valid end-user comments and complaints, or not.

They still do not make clear, however, that the .50/msg fees past 25 in the Basic Plan are often billed at .50 to each party and for each service, with users saying that what is claimed to be .50/msg has often been billed at 2.00/msg. You also cannot see how many msgs you have left on your plan before potentially going over.

Not really a fair comparison with the Garmin inReach Mini, which can do a lot more than the Zoleo. It can access downloadable maps, NOAA charts, aerial imagery, weather forecasts.

The point is, based on the number of negative end-user experiences in this product's first year, limited functionality, but most importantly that it is not consistent in sending current location in SOS situations but last recorded, I personally find it worthwhile to wait until they iron out a few more kinks.

It may well suit some folk's purposes for the occasional trip.

It doesn't for me; not yet.
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DRAX

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.
They make the 90day no refund clearer now, yes. Like any new product a company puts out, there is a time frame in which they respond to valid end-user comments and complaints, or not.

They still do not make clear, however, that the .50/msg fees past 25 in the Basic Plan are often billed at .50 to each party and for each service, with users saying that what is claimed to be .50/msg has often been billed at 2.00/msg. You also cannot see how many msgs you have left on your plan before potentially going over.
Strange regarding the messages being per-party/service, not sure why that would be or why that would only be the case once you go over your allotment. I'll have to take your/their word for it happening, but indeed there is nothing in their ToS about that. With the Garmin service you can easily track how many messages have been sent and of which type, the account info updates in near real-time and not nightly so when my wife was testing initially she was able to see how many messages she used up. There was some confusion initially about preset messages vs preset content vs test messages as well. Garmin allows unlimited preset messages but those are limited to 3 different messages with static contacts. There are messages you can select from a preset list and then select which contacts to send it to. Those are not "preset messages" and count towards the allotment.

Not really a fair comparison with the Garmin inReach Mini, which can do a lot more than the Zoleo. It can access downloadable maps, NOAA charts, aerial imagery, weather forecasts.
That's an app limitation, not device. According to Zoleo's website you can get weather forecasts in the app and I cannot find any costs associated with getting them other than "weather messages" count, Garmin charges a fee for both the basic and premium weather reports. Indeed, the Earthmate app gives access to maps but the inReach Mini itself offers no such map or navigation ability on its own. The reviews for Earthmate are awful as well, so I don't see having access to maps as part of buying the device as a bonus when the app sucks and it's specifically for use with the inReach. If maps are important then there are better options out there and you don't need an inReach or other external GPS device to use them since your smartphone will have a built-in GPS, not to mention using the external GPS via bluetooth will drain both devices faster and what good is an emergency communicator with a dead battery? So I'd counter that maps are a worthless feature here.

The point is, based on the number of negative end-user experiences in this product's first year, limited functionality, but most importantly that it is not consistent in sending current location in SOS situations but last recorded, I personally find it worthwhile to wait until they iron out a few more kinks.

It may well suit some folk's purposes for the occasional trip.

It doesn't for me; not yet.
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It looks like most of the negatives/complaints you're referring to are based on a single bad review on Amazon? 92% of the reviews are 4+ stars, so I don't get the "number of negative reviews" you're talking about? Not that it matters. The inReach Mini has the exact same percentage of 4+ star reviews; 92%.

Don't get me wrong, I get what you're saying when it comes to functionality, reliability, and clearly-defined costs and surprise costs/charges and no refunds, etc is definitely going to generate a poor user experience.

If your main concern is emergency use then you should be looking at PLBs instead anyway. Satellite messengers are multi-purpose devices that aren't perfect and have compromises. PLBs have a single purpose, are reliable, and there are no subscription fees. You just can't use them for non-emergency communication.

Gotta pick your poison.
 

Road

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Road
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Strange regarding the messages being per-party/service, not sure why that would be or why that would only be the case once you go over your allotment. I'll have to take your/their word for it happening, but indeed there is nothing in their ToS about that. With the Garmin service you can easily track how many messages have been sent and of which type, the account info updates in near real-time and not nightly so when my wife was testing initially she was able to see how many messages she used up. There was some confusion initially about preset messages vs preset content vs test messages as well. Garmin allows unlimited preset messages but those are limited to 3 different messages with static contacts. There are messages you can select from a preset list and then select which contacts to send it to. Those are not "preset messages" and count towards the allotment.



That's an app limitation, not device. According to Zoleo's website you can get weather forecasts in the app and I cannot find any costs associated with getting them other than "weather messages" count, Garmin charges a fee for both the basic and premium weather reports. Indeed, the Earthmate app gives access to maps but the inReach Mini itself offers no such map or navigation ability on its own. The reviews for Earthmate are awful as well, so I don't see having access to maps as part of buying the device as a bonus when the app sucks and it's specifically for use with the inReach. If maps are important then there are better options out there and you don't need an inReach or other external GPS device to use them since your smartphone will have a built-in GPS, not to mention using the external GPS via bluetooth will drain both devices faster and what good is an emergency communicator with a dead battery? So I'd counter that maps are a worthless feature here.



It looks like most of the negatives/complaints you're referring to are based on a single bad review on Amazon? 92% of the reviews are 4+ stars, so I don't get the "number of negative reviews" you're talking about? Not that it matters. The inReach Mini has the exact same percentage of 4+ star reviews; 92%.

Don't get me wrong, I get what you're saying when it comes to functionality, reliability, and clearly-defined costs and surprise costs/charges and no refunds, etc is definitely going to generate a poor user experience.

If your main concern is emergency use then you should be looking at PLBs instead anyway. Satellite messengers are multi-purpose devices that aren't perfect and have compromises. PLBs have a single purpose, are reliable, and there are no subscription fees. You just can't use them for non-emergency communication.

Gotta pick your poison.
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Good grief. Sorry you are taking issue with everything. Buy it for yourself; you don't need my approval.

Amzn is not the only place to read reviews, and there is more than one negative review even on amzn.

Again, my concern is not only emergency, though thank you for the advice thinking that's all I'm after. What I prefer for my money is a more diverse tool that includes proper functionality.
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DMS1

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I had a spot, got rid of it last year and got the Garmin Montana 700i - Full GPS and InReach all in one device. So far it works great.