• Richard Weremiuk

SPOT Tracker vs inReach vs LTE/GSM Tracker

We recentley conducted a field test using three devices, all of which we hire and sell. The devices used in this test were as follows:

  • SPOT Gen 4 (transmitting every 5 minutes)

  • Garmin inReach Explorer+ (transmitting every 10 minutes)

  • Queclink GL320MG LTE/GSM Tracker (transmitting every 15 seconds)

We took them on a 4-mile walk in a semi-rural area, consisting of fields, light and medium density woodland and an urban housing development.

The three devices work in different ways. Whilst all triangulate their position from stationary orbit satellites, they transmit their location to the tracker servers /internet very differently.

The LTE/GSM transmits on any available mobile phone network, using either 2G or 4G. The SPOT transmits using the Globalstar Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. There are currently 24 satellites in that constellation. The Garmin inReach transmits using the Iridium LEO satellites. There are 82 satellites in that constellation.

You can see the full video of the test here.

The LTE/GSM transmitted reliably every 15 seconds, and displayed a "live" location to the tracking website. The breadcrumb trace below shows the tracker faithfully recorded the route in detail every 15 seconds, with no outages or delays.

The SPOT Gen 4 worked reliably until the route went through a large wooded area. It then suffered a complete outage for 15 minutes, until we emerged into clear ground, and also missed a later data transmission due to a smaller wooded area. The trace below shows the transmitted data points, and the locations where the tracker did not transmit its location.

The inReach Explorer+ transmitted all data points, even in the wooded area by virtue of the larger satellite constellation, but at times there was a 10 minute delay in the data being displayed on the Garmin website. The breadcrumb trail / data points are shown in the below trace.

A summary of the findings was as follows.

  • The area of the test has good GSM coverage, this meant the GSM/LTE tracker outperformed the other two devices

  • The SPOT did not work under tree cover at all, but when in open ground it did send data every 5 minutes

  • The inReach was reliable but sometimes slow to share the location data

We will be conducitng a similar test in one of the most remote areas of the UK, the Cairngorm's in Scotland in mid January 2022. Look out for the next part of this series then.

Follow the link for GPS Tracker Hire if you are looking to hire or buy any of the devices featured

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