DeLorme and SPOT join forces for GPS receiver with satellite messaging

GPS and mapping firm DeLorme has teamed up with SPOT to develop the PN-60w handheld GPS. The PN-60w is the first combination GPS unit / SPOT Satellite communicator on the market. We reviewed SPOT back in 2008, and if you missed that review, SPOT is a GPS enabled satellite communicator designed to transmit your position and relay messages.

The SPOT system has evolved since then, with the most notable difference being a smaller device. With the new DeLorme PN-60w, the SPOT system gains Type & Send text messaging, allowing you to send messages when you are well outside the reach of cellular networks.

The system is subscription based, and in addition to text messages, users can even type and send messages to individual email addresses, buddy lists, and social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Fire Eagle,, or

In case of emergency, SOS messages can be sent with the user’s GPS coordinates embedded. In addition, family and friends can track a user’s progress via Google’s free online maps.

The GPS unit itself is equally impressive – offering topographic and street level maps of the U.S. and Canada. Additional maps and charts can be added using the included desktop software.

The rugged PN-60w is a 2-piece system, and the handheld communicates wirelessly with the SPOT transmitter, which means you can place it somewhere that will ensure a clear view of the sky.

The new system will be introduced at the Teva Mountain Games this week, and will be available for purchase in July.

New device will let you text, twitter from remote places

The Consumer Electronics Show has been going on in Las Vegas the past few days, with a host of new gadgets and gizmos being announced, including everything from new digital camera, ebook readers, and even 3D LCD TV’s. One product that was announced, and may be of interest to travelers heading to remote places on the planet, is the Earthmate PN-60w, a hand held GPS device from DeLorme and SPOT, that will allow adventurers to more effectively communicate from locations that are not covered by cell service.

The new device pairs one of DeLorme’s GPS units with SPOT’s next generation Satellite Communicator, to send custom message from the backcountry. The Earthmate wil have all the regular features you’d expect from a GPS, including base maps, in this case covering the entire world, navigation, electronic compass, and so on. But it will also wirelessly pair with the Communicator, allowing the user to type text messages and send them to friends and family back home via satellite.

For its part, the Satellite Communicator allows for adventure travelers to call for help, should the need arise, from nearly anywhere on the planet. It also lets the user to share tracking information and custom messages that can easily be interfaced with Twiter, Facebook,, and SPOT’s own

The Earthmate PN-60w will be available later this spring, but pricing, for the device and the communications service, have not yet been announced. If DeLorme and SPOT stay true to form however, you can expect global communications to become available and affordable for the average consumer.

Gadling’s Top 25 travel technology products of 2008

Welcome to the Gadling top 25 travel technology products of 2008.

It has been a great year for gadget loving travelers, and I have come across some really fantastic products that have helped make my own trips much more enjoyable.

It was not easy keeping the list to just 25 products, and there should be something for everyone in this lineup. So, without any further delay, I present (in no particular order), the 25 best travel technology products of 2008.


Boingo is the only thing listed in the top 25 that isn’t a physical product.

Boingo provides a service that lets you pay a single monthly fee to get access to over 103,000 different Wi-Fi hotspot locations around the world.

For $59 you get their global traveler plan, which offers unlimited access to any of the locations in the Boingo network.

If you have traveled the world, you’ll have probably stayed at one of the many hotels using Wi-Fi as another source of income. Think of Wi-Fi as the new minibar. With daily rates as high as $30, using Boingo makes perfect sense. Business travelers will certainly appreciate the ability to use a single logon and not have to worry about a different expense for each connection they setup on a trip.

Why it matters to travelers: Saves money and makes getting online around the globe much easier.
Price: From $7.95 for a US only PDA plan, $59 for a global plan
Gadling review: Coming soon.

T-Mobile Blackberry Curve

With all of the mobile phones popping up this year, you’d probably expect me to pick the new 3G iPhone as the most travel friendly phone. Sadly for Apple, it’s actually a Blackberry that is still my favorite pick. The Blackberry Curve on T-Mobile has one very important feature that makes it the perfect pick for global travelers; Wi-Fi calling. The technology is called UMA, and it allows the Blackberry to roam onto a Wi-Fi hotspot signal and behave just like it would on a regular cell tower.

You could be in Japan on a Wi-Fi signal in your hotel, and your Blackberry will be able to make and receive phone calls and text messages just like back home. Of course, because you are not roaming on an international network, you can even make these calls for the same rate as a normal call back home, without the insane roaming rates involved.

Why it matters to travelers: Cheap calls, email, Internet browsing and travel applications.
Price: $99.99
Where: or any T-Mobile authorized dealer
Gadling review: October 15th 2008

Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot

Several years ago the big development in wireless technology was the availability of broadband 3G wireless access. If you keep your eyes open next time you are at an airport lounge, you’ll see loads of people working on their laptop with a little antenna sticking out the side of the machine.

To me, the biggest development in wireless data this year, came from the Cradlepoint PHS300 personal Wi-Fi hotspot.

The PHS300 turns your 3G modem into a Wi-Fi hotspot. The battery powered device creates a wireless signal ready to use by one person, or an entire conference room. By moving your wireless card out of your laptop, you also save battery life, plus you can move the Cradlepoint router closer to a window to pick up a better wireless signal.

Why it matters to travelers: One modem card can be shared with others, reduces the load on your laptop.
Price: $179.99
Gadling review: August 25th 2008

Eye-Fi wireless enabled SD memory card

Nothing in the photography world has made life easier for me than the Eye-Fi wireless memory card. The Eye-Fi card is a regular SD card, with a built in Wireless adapter.

What this means to anyone taking photos is that they can take a photo and within seconds it will be uploaded to their computer or a photo sharing site of their choice (as long as you are in range of a wireless network).

The card was released last year, but 2008 brought several major updates to their lineup including the Eye-Fi Explore. The Explore adds hotspot access to any Wayport locations, as well as basic Geotagging of your photos.

I’ve become so used to offloading my photos using the Eye-Fi card that I actually lost the USB cable of my previous camera.

Why it matters to travelers: Send your photos home before you leave your destination.
Price: From $79.99
Gadling review: Coming soon

Panasonic Lumix TZ5

In picking my favorite digital camera for 2008, I went through almost 15 different models. When it comes to a camera that is suitable for travelers I looked for several things; it had to be small enough for traveling light, and it had to offer something invaluable for making decent shots.

I’ll admit right away that I am a horrible photographer, I’ve played with digital SLR cameras, but never managed to quite master the art. Since I’m convinced the same applies to many other traveling consumers, I’ve picked the small Lumix TZ5 for this lineup.

The TZ5 is a 9.1 megapixel camera like many other point and shooters on the market. What makes the TZ5 different is its 10x optical zoom and the ability to shoot basic HD video clips.

Why it matters to trav
10x wide angle optical zoom, HD video clips, special “travel” mode for sorting your photos.
Price: $329.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Lenovo Ideapad S10

Every several years something big happens in the computer world. 3 years ago we saw a big shift from desktop PC purchases to notebooks. 2008 was the big year for the Netbook.

This new generation of ultra portable (and ultra affordable) computers has forced every major manufacturer to bring at least one machine to the market. What started with a single design from Asus has now morphed into about 30 different machines. I’ve tried almost every single one of them, but eventually there was just one clear winner for me; the Lenovo Ideapad S10.

This 10″ Intel Atom powered Netbook is perfect for business travelers as it is available with Bluetooth and it has an Expresscard slot (for expansion cards). The Lenovo S10 has a very sleek design, and incorporates the reliability Lenovo is known for. In my personal opinion, the S10 is also the best looking Netbook of the year.

Why it matters to travelers: Size, looks and performance.
Price: From $399
Gadling review: coming soon

SeV Quantum jacket

When you are on the road a lot, you learn to value the importance of pockets. It sounds pretty quirky, but the combination of travel and carrying too many gadgets means you always need more ways to carry them. The SeV Quantum jacket is a stylish jacket made of breathable material. Hidden away all around this garment are 28 separate pockets, including some large enough to carry a water bottle or even a small laptop!

Almost every pocket is linked to the others using the SeV patented “personal area network” which allows you to route cords inside the jacket. The Quantum even features 2 special pockets with clear plastic which allow you to have easy access to your iPod or mobile phone.

Why it matters to travelers: Pockets, lots and lots of pockets.
Price: $250
Gadling review: September 29th 2008

Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer

After years of making our lives miserable, the TSA actually used 2008 to help bring some common sense back to the checkpoint. One of their accomplishments was the creation of some better rules for how they treat your laptop. In the past, they were so scared of laptop computers that they wanted every laptop on its own going through the X-Ray conveyor. The new rules allow you to keep it inside an approved bag.

The Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer was one of the first checkpoint friendly bags to ship. The bag is made in the USA and features an ingenious folding laptop portion. The bag is very well made, and is full of great little touches like waterproof zippers.

Why it matters to travelers: Every minute saved at the checkpoint is valuable.
Price: $225
Gadling review: October 7th 2008

Altec-Lansing iM237 Orbit MP3 portable speaker

The Altec Lansing Orbit MP3 speaker is the perfect companion for your iPod, iPhone or other music player.

The speaker works off three AAA batteries and allows you to store the audio cord in the bottom.

The Orbit MP3 produces an amazing amount of sound, and despite its tiny size, you’ll easily be able to fill a decent size hotel room with your tunes.

Why it matters to travelers: Room filling audio from a pint sized speaker.
Price: $39.95
Gadling review: October 29th 2008

Creative Labs Aurvana headphones

I’ve had the Creative Labs Aurvana X-Fi headphones lined up for a review for some time, but I’ve been using them so often that I never got around to giving you a full review. The Aurvana X-Fi headphones feature the highly rated Creative X-Fi system for improving the sound quality of your digital music as well as a special mode for creating virtual surround sound when you listen to a movie.

The headphones are even $50 cheaper than that “other” brand of popular noise canceling headphones.

The Creative Labs Auravna X-Fi headphones are quite simply the best noise canceling headphones I have ever used. Included in the package is a sturdy carrying case, adapters for most headphone jacks and an extension cord.

Why it matters to travelers: Combines amazing sound quality with amazing noise canceling features.
Price: $249.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Duracell PowerSource mini battery pack

I like power. Sadly I don’t have much of the influential kind, so I compensate by collecting gadgets that can keep my other gadgets working. The Duracell Portable Power Pack is such a device.

This small rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack features a folding USB connector, a second female USB connector and a battery life indicator. A fully charged Duracell battery pack holds enough juice to recharge most of my gadgets at l
east three times.

Why it matters to travelers: Because a gadget without power can be really depressing.
Price: $39.99
Gadling review: coming soon

Peek Email device

Back in September we posted the first ever review of this personal email device.

Peek is a handheld wireless emailer which runs off the nationwide T-Mobile network. For $99 (priced at $79.99 till the end of the year) and a monthly service charge of $19.99, you get unlimited access to your email on the go. There is no contract, and no paperwork involved. You simply give Peek a credit card number, and you are all set.

I like Peek because it delivers on its promise; it does email, and only email, but it does that one thing quite well. Peek was recently voted “best gadget of 2008” by Time magazine.

Why it matters to travelers: Provides simple and affordable email on the go for anyone.
Price: $99.95 ($79.99 till December 31st)
Gadling review: August 26th 2008


The Chargepod by Callpod has completely changed the way I charge my gadgets on the road. In the past I had a complicated array of chargers, cables and splitters. The Chargepod powers off one AC adapter, and can power 6 gadgets at the same time.

Chargepod offers an impressive list of power adapter tips for anything from your Bluetooth headset to the latest portable gaming console. I have yet to run into a gadget that can’t be powered off the Chargepod.

Why it matters: One charger instead of 6
Price: $39.95 for the base unit, or $79.99 for the bundle pack with a selection of power tips
Gadling review: August 28th 2008

Otterbox cases

As gadget prices go up, so does the disappointment when a gadget breaks. Anyone who is on the road a lot will subject their gadgets to all kinds of abuse.

Otterbox produces a lineup of cases that provide several levels of protection. They vary from basic bump and scratch protection, to full water and shockproof protection.

Otterbox cases are available for all iPods as well as most Blackberry smartphones including the recently released Blackberry Bold.

Why it matters to travelers: Take your gadget to the beach, or up a mountain.
Price: From $19.95
Gadling review: September 10th 2008

Amazon Kindle

It’s almost impossible to list “best gadgets” without mentioning the Amazon Kindle. This electronic book reader launched in November of 2007 and has been one of the top selling electronic devices on ever since.

The Kindle was not the first electronic book on the market, but it does something no other eBook can do; wireless downloads of books.

No longer will you have to jump into the book store at the airport to buy another overpriced book, nor do you need to stock your carry-on with magazines and newspapers.

The Amazon Kindle offers it all, in a slick and easy to use package. The usability is slightly questionable, and the page changing buttons are a nightmare to use, but at the end of the day, nothing beats the ability to download a book right before takeoff. In addition to books, the Kindle also offers wireless access to select newspapers, magazines and RSS feeds.

Why it matters to travelers: Never worry about running out of something to read on the road, reduce the weight of your carry-on.
Price: $359 + the price of your reading materials
Gadling review: coming soon

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Product review – SPOT satellite messenger

Today I’m going to give you a closer look at a gadget that isn’t just fun to play with, it’s something that could actually help save your life.

The SPOT satellite messenger is part GPS receiver and part satellite locator beacon. The device receives your location from GPS satellites and relays it through even more satellites back to ground stations. It all sounds horribly complicated, but the SPOT messenger couldn’t be easier to operate.

The device is about the size of a small digital camera and only has 4 buttons (help, on/off, OK, 911). Naturally the on/off button is for powering the device on or off. The OK button sends an email or text message to a predetermined recipient (as well as activating the tracking feature) and the help button sends a “help me” signal with a personalized message to people you have added to your SPOT account. And finally, the 911 button actually alerts a global rescue organization that you are in trouble and need immediate assistance.

This emergency assistance is provided by the GEOS Alliance, an organization underwritten in London which provides search and rescue services. SPOT accounts optionally include up to $100,000 coverage per year for rescue resources (including helicopter, aircraft and private search teams). When GEOS receives an alert message, they will first try to contact you and your emergency contact numbers. By holding down the 911 button for 3 seconds, you can cancel your alert request.

The buttons are fairly easy to press, which also means you run the risk of pressing them by accident if you pack the device in your luggage, so pay extra attention when stowing it. The SPOT messenger weighs 7.4oz/209 grams and is made of impact resistant orange plastic with a black rubber bumper. SPOT rates their product waterproof in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The device also floats, which is handy if you find yourself falling overboard, just be sure to attach a lanyard to the opening in the back.

I’ve been using the SPOT messenger for several months, and it’s become just another gadget that I’d never leave home without. As I mentioned earlier, there is a less serious angle to this device, as you can share your current location with anyone back home. Your position can be sent via email or text message whenever you press the “OK” button. If you enable the tracking feature of the device, the SPOT messenger transmits your location every 10 minutes, which can be viewed on a Google map overlay on the SPOT site.

GPS and satellite reception is more than adequate outdoors, but you can’t rely on the device to function indoors. I’ve also had a hard time getting a GPS signal inside a car. So, if you had dreams of using this device to track your luggage, I’ll have to disappoint you; it won’t work. The device has just 4 indicator lights, and these don’t really provide enough information to figure out what the device is doing. You will need to read the manual and learn the various blinking codes. Of course, by not adding more lights, or a display, they have managed to make battery life quite impressive.

The SPOT messenger operates off 2 AA batteries, but SPOT strongly advise against using regular (alkaline or rechargeable) batteries and claim that the device operates best off non rechargeable lithium batteries (around $5 per pair). The batteries are installed in the device behind a plastic cover attached with 2 screws. To remove the back cover you also need to unscrew the belt clip. Full batteries can keep the unit powered for up to 2 weeks when in SPOT Tracking mode (with messages every 10 minutes) or for manually sending up to 1900 OK messages.

The SPOT messenger relies on access to 2 different satellite constellations; the US government GPS satellites, and the Globalstar network. GPS satellites cover almost every corner of the globe, but Globalstar is only available in select regions.

A coverage map for Gloablstar satellites can be found here. As you can see, there is no coverage in places like India, Hawaii and most of Africa. If you plan to purchase the SPOT messenger, be sure to check the local coverage before you leave.

The SPOT messenger costs $169 with service starting at just $99 a year. The basic service package includes unlimited 911 alerts, OK and help messages. This basic service does not include the progress tracking add-on which costs an additional $49.99 per year.

The GEOS search and rescue service is $7.95 per year when purchased upon activation (or $150 prior to activation). Bargain hunters can find the SPOT messenger through various vendors on for as little as $127.

Let me close with a warning; I’ve done a lot of reading about the SPOT messenger, and personal distress locator devices in general, and the experts on these devices make it clear that the SPOT messenger is not a replacement for a true emergency beacon. Don’t buy a SPOT messenger to replace your existing equipment if you plan to sail around the world or if you are off on your own climbing a mountain. In my opinion, it’s a great device for someone that normally would not carry a product like this or for someone who would like an affordable way of relaying back to their friends and family that they are ok. It’s also a fun way to keep your friends and family updated on your location. Imagine your kid logging on to his or her PC every morning to see where Daddy is. Make no mistake though, the SPOT messenger is a reliable emergency locator, and their “true stories” rescue pages have some great stories of how the device helped with rescue operations.