Iridium trackers – getting real

[This post will get out of date quickly. However the respective device pages (under the "Devices" menu) will be updated regularly with the latest specifications and reviews.]

A clutch of new,  Iridium based trackers is now starting to ship. Last week we saw DeLorme ship their inReach units, while this week Yellowbrick in the UK will ship their YB3 tracker. The Cyberlink units are  expected  before the end of the year. We’ll do our best to keep our respective “device pages” up to date with links to the manufacturers’ latest information, as well as to any substantial product reviews and industry comment.

Here is our overview of the different approaches taken by these manufacturers:

DeLorme [info page]has taken a minimalist hardware approach with the inReach, going head to head with the established market leader, SPOT[info page], which single-handedly created the market for low cost satellite tracking.

DeLorme is leveraging its position in mapping  and GPS units and has been careful not to burden the inReach with features which would drive up the price and make it uncompetitive. A major advantage against SPOT is its two way messaging when used with an Android phone or DeLorme’s PN60 GPS unit. IP67 water resistance is another attraction for many users. The US$250 price tag is pretty compelling. A basic subscription plan (minimum 12 months) is US$9.95 per month

Yellowbrick [info page] has taken a different approach from DeLorme in  the design of their tracking units, focusing on versatility. Its YB3 unit comes in four (!) versions with the ability to upgrade between versions. It features a small display screen to allow for basic messaging without pairing it with a phone. It has a high capacity (up to a year depending on update rate) re-chargable battery and the ability to attach an external antenna. Inevitable it costs more than the inReach unit, starting at around US$640 for the basic unit.

Pairing with Android as well as iOS phones and tablets is to be available.

The company offers an unbundled pay-as-you-go subscription and fee structure without requiring a 12 month contract (much more attractive than its pre-release plans indicated).

Cerberlink [info page] is the dark horse (devil?) in the race. Its design and marketing are consumer oriented, although its pricing seems uncompetitive (around double the inReach pricing) without the additional features offered by Yellowbrick. It promises to connect to Cerbertouch, an app for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android and Blackberry devices, although no shipping date for that is currently available. Interestingly, the units will be available for rent or purchase, attractive for a “one off adventure”. Limited shipping of the Cerberlink units is expected before the end of the year.

 

  • satellite phone

    these are the best trackers available so far, though the prices were that expensive.