DeLorme has finally done it, announcing an all-in-one two-way satellite communicator plus GPS navigator, the DeLorme inReach Explorer.
Basically, the unit is a GPS navigator married with the inReach SE. In addition to the latter’s two-way satellite communication capabilities, you’ll get many of the features you expect from a handheld GPS navigator — waypoints, routes, a map screen, etc. The specs include a digital compass and barometric altimeter.
Yet they may not have quite brought us the holy grail. The only mention of topo maps is that they can be used on a paired mobile phone:
When paired with a mobile device, inReach owners get exclusive, unlimited access to DeLorme’s topographic maps and U.S. NOAA charts, which can be downloaded via an Internet connection prior to departure and remain available in the Earthmate app, even when beyond cellular coverage.
You can see an example Explorer map screen at right.
Which brings us to another issue – the company appears to have kept the same interface and form factor, which would mean a tiny 1.8″ display — one reason to avoid adding detailed maps to it.
And that decision was probably also impacted by power usage, since the diminutive screen size is partly responsible for the long battery life (100 hours sending a track point every ten minutes).
Pricing, plans and availability
One note on the ability to send and receive texts, etc. — while a subscription is required for satellite messaging, the company’s new Freedom Plans offer the flexibility of month-by-month options, starting at $14.95 per month.
The list price is $379, with the units slated to ship in mid-May.
What do you think? Are you interested in the inReach Explorer? Do you prefer longer battery life or a larger screen with built in topo maps?