This tiny satellite communicator wowed me during an off-grid adventure, and it’s now $50 off

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Testing the Garmin Inreach Messenger Satellite Communicator

Testing the Garmin Inreach Messenger Satellite Communicator

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

What are Black Friday deals?

Garmin Inreach Messenger is on sale at Best Buy Black Friday for $249 ($50 off)Makes one of the best off-grid communication devices even better value

Why this deal is ZDNET-recommended

I’ve been using and testing the satellite messaging and emergency SOS system long before Apple added the feature to the iPhone 14. There are no end of devices that will allow you to connect to your nearest satellite to communicate with the world.

Also: The best early Black Friday deals

And while we’re far from satellite communications, anywhere as easy or convenient as using Wi-Fi or a cellular network, they can be invaluable in providing peace of mind to family and friends who choose to go on adventures beyond the reach of a cellular network. carries and becomes a lifeline when something goes wrong.

I am testing its capabilities Garmin Inreach MessengerA puck-shaped, pocket-sized device that can connect to the Iridium satellite network.

Now, you can read the specs and even test the device from the comfort and safety of your backyard like I did, but there’s nothing like taking it on a little adventure before taking it on the big ones.

Garmin In-Rich Messenger Handheld Satellite Communicator

Recommended by ZDNET

Garmin in Rich Messenger

A two-way messaging device that dials into the Iridium satellite network for connectivity.

So, that’s what I did as the hottest day of the year so far. I set the tiny InReach Messenger to track my location, throwing the tiny device into it A pocket in my hydration pack And started walking.

A pocket in my CamelBak hydration pack was the perfect place for Inreach Messenger to get a good view of the sky.

A pocket in my CamelBak hydration pack was the perfect place for Inreach Messenger to get a good view of the sky.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

I wanted to test a few features of the Inreach Messenger, the first being the device’s ability to lock onto my location as I moved through varied terrain, from open grasslands to forests to hillsides to coastlines. The area has varying cellular coverage ranging from strong 4G, patchy 3G to none at all.

Stopping tracking is a matter of enabling it via the Garmin Messenger app installed on a smartphone (iOS or Android) or enabling it in InReach Messenger itself. It requires a reasonably clear view of the sky, and I found it perfect to have in my hydration pack.

It sends my locations every 10 minutes and uploads them to Garmin’s MapShare website, where you can give friends and family a special URL (and optional password) where they’ll be able to see your location on a map in near real-time.

Also: Motorola’s simple Bluetooth device adds satellite messaging to your smartphone

Tracking using InReach Messenger, whether I have a cellular signal or not

Flawless location tracking using InReach Messenger, whether I have a cellular signal or not

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

It worked perfectly, not only showing my location on a map but also recording speed, course, altitude and device battery status.

You can also allow visitors to your map to message your InReach Messenger directly from the map (messaging is part of your permission, or it costs a fee) and find your current location as well.

I can see this feature giving you peace of mind at home.

Also: Someone made the first voice call to satellite with an everyday phone

The next thing I wanted to know is how easy it is to send and receive messages using InReach Messenger. For this test, I wanted to rely solely on the InReach Messenger unit and not interface with it using an app on my smartphone.

Again, I had no problem using the device to send email messages to contacts using only the satellite network. In an age where we’re used to instant communication, it’s easy to take this for granted. But I was quite fascinated to see that this little device in my bag was sending messages to and from satellites in space.

Along with the message, you’ll get coordinates and a link that takes you to a map that shows where the message was sent.

Examples of messages that Inreach Messenger sends

Examples of messages that Inreach Messenger sends

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

That’s so cool!

As for battery life, the unit lived up to my expectations. The Specs promise 28 days from the battery with tracking enabled to send a location every 10 minutes, and my testing confirms this. It will crash your smartphone in a long, long time. Remember to charge it before you adventure!

Also: This rugged Android phone is so huge that you can even use it as a power bank

Finally, there’s that SOS button that you can press in an emergency. Obviously, I can’t test this feature, but I have no doubt that it works as effectively and efficiently as the rest of the device.

There it is, just in case.

ZDNET’s buying advice

The Garmin Inreach Messenger It’s an expensive device, and even a basic subscription adds significantly to the cost. But if you need to be available and visible to others outside of Wi-Fi or cellular network reach, you don’t have much of a choice. It’s pay-total-box-satellite-price or nothing.

But if you choose the satellite communicator route, you’ll be very happy to know that you’ve chosen a gadget that’s extremely reliable and easy to use, and will give loved ones peace of mind and a way to access. touch with you

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