Last February, GPS manufacturer Garmin raised eyebrows in the outdoor community when it announced it was purchasing DeLorme, a company best known for creating products that allow explorers, backpackers, and world travelers to stay in contact while venturing off the grid. At the time, there was a lot of interest and speculation as to what this purchase meant for the future of the products from both companies. On Tuesday, we found out.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Garmin took the wraps off its first two devices that use DeLorme’s InReach satellite communications technology. The new InReach SE+ and InReach Explorer+ both come equipped with built-in GPS navigational features, but also have the ability to connect to the Iridium satellite network for two-way messaging, location tracking, and sending SOS alerts should the need arise while traveling in a remote area. This combination of functionality makes these new gadgets a perfect option for those who need to stay in touch from virtually anywhere on the planet.
In terms of outward appearance, the SE+ and Explorer+ are practically indistinguishable from one another, and both units share much of the same functionality. For instance, both models feature highly sensitive GPS receivers which allow them to pinpoint the user’s exact location, mark waypoints on a map, track movement, and display navigational routes on their individual screens. But, the InReach Explorer+ does have a few extra features that its sibling doesn’t, most notably a built-in digital compass, barometric altimeter, and an accelerometer too. It also comes preprogrammed with detailed topographic maps, which can come in handy while trying to navigate in the backcountry.
Aside from those differences, the two devices function pretty much identically. Both models have the ability to connect to the Iridium satellites to send text messages to friends and family back home, even in areas where no cell service exists. Those who receive the messages can also respond from their smartphones and even go online to track the InReach user’s location on a map. The two satellite communicators also have the ability to transmit an SOS signal, which alerts the team at Garmin’s GEOS tracking center, which monitors InReach notifications 24/7. The staff in that command center can then communicate directly with the InReach user, determine their immediate needs, and coordinate a search-and-rescue operation should it be necessary.
If either the InReach SE+ or Explorer+ are operating within an area where cell phone coverage is available, they can also connect to compatible smartphones to tap into even more features. Using the free Earthmate app for iOS or Android, the device can download additional maps, access aerial imagery, and view NOAA charts and USGS Quad Sheets as well. Users can also access optional weather updates and hunters can view data on nearby land management units and parcels. Data can be synced between devices using a free cloud service option as well, making it easy to share waypoints and other navigational data.
Garmin says the InReach SE+ and Explorer+ will feature 100 hours of battery life in tracking mode and up to 30 days in power-save mode. As you would expect, both models are built for use in the outdoors and are rugged enough to survive accidental drops onto rocky surfaces. Additionally, both models carry an IPX7 rating for water resistance as well.
The two new InReach models are expected to begin shipping in the first quarter of 2017. The SE+ will carry a price tag of $400, while the Explorer+ will run $450. A subscription to an Iridium satellite communications package is required for the messaging, tracking, and SOS services, with prices ranging from $12 to $100 per month depending on features and length of subscription.
Find out more at garmin.com.
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