A Review of the DeLorme PN60 and SPOT Communicator

Image hosting by IMGBoot.com

Before I begin I want to inform everyone that I am a long time user of DeLorme products. I cannot compare the DeLorme product line with any other brand because I simply don't know enough about Garmin and Magellan products.

The new PN60 and the SPOT Satellite communicator are the latest offering to the DeLorme handheld GPS product family. The increased functionality of the PN60 allows the user to take their hobbies and interests well beyond hiking, biking and geocaching. This is not your grandma's GPS. Yes, you can use it for all the basic activities but if that is all you need it to do I say save your money and use your iPhone.

First, let's talk about the SPOT Satellite communicator. When one is an avid backpacker they often find themselves in out-of-the-way places that don't have many cell towers. An accomplished backpacker will be prepared for anything and most likely won't get themselves into trouble. However, every single backpacker has some sort of paranoid relative who sits at home being a worrywart. If you are the worrywart please quit whining and kvetching, and buy the backpacker in your life this product. I won't lie to you, the SPOT is a bit cumbersome to use but it will allow a hiker to communicate through satellites from anywhere on earth, and send a 40 character message through email or a Facebook post. There are more communication options but those are the 2 that I use, check the specs for more information. The beauty of the SPOT communicator is it is one-way communication. The backpacker can send messages out, the worrywarts of the world can't send annoying messages back. The message receiver will also get a Google-style map with the exact location +- a few feet of where the hiker is. Oh, and if the hiker gets into trouble in the outback they can get help by sending a distress signal to the US Air Force, though my mother could care less about that feature as she just wants to know that I'm alive and be able to keep tabs on me.

But now let's talk about the good stuff. By good stuff I mean Digital Globe Aerial Imagery. We are talking 30 cm aerial imagery on the screen with a green arrow showing exactly where you are. It is all about the imagery. Think about the clarity of the imagery you see on Google Earth, this is almost as good. I would say that the GE imagery for my urban area is 20 cm, though I'm guessing. The Digital Globe imagery is available for most of the entire globe, which means everywhere. If you don't live in the United States don't dispair. The PN60 will still work very well for you with these new aerial images although you are out of luck if you reside on the Afghanistan/Pakistan mountain border, everywhere else is available. So if you are in the woods and are looking for an old foundation or an artifact then most likely you'll be able to see it on the screen of your PN60 and it is fast. For all you history buffs this is the device for you.

I don't wish to get long-winded with this review. The PN60 works much like the PN40. There are a few new features I would like to mention. First, the new Sync window that works with DeLorme TOPO9.0 Software. The Sync Window uses the power of the Internet to automatically connect with DeLorme's Netlink Server. Sync will take care of all the firmware updates for your PN60 as long as your PN60 is connected to your computer. There is no more fooling with downloading zip files and trying figure out how to update your device. A feature worth mentioning is that it has become abundantly easier to organize waypoints in files, and the PN60 will store them as gpx. The device will hold a lot of waypoints, for the exact number you'll have to check with DeLorme. I have yet to fill my PN60 to its waypoint capacity. Lastly, a feature I have used that his been helpful to me is the ability to calculate the area within a track line while standing anywhere. This little-known feature might be of use to insurance adjusters, farmers and anyone in the landscaping business.

Here is a list of helpful links.

Click here for General Information about the PN60 and SPOT Communicator. There is a tab near the top of that page for product specifications.

Click this link to learn more about the Digital Globe subscription.

Here is a review I wrote years ago about the PN40, which goes into more detail about the features available on that device. The PN 60 is very similar to the PN40.

Here are two interesting blog posts that I have created using the PN60. These are good examples of how to use a handheld GPS device for more than just geocaching and hiking:

Ghosts of Leakin Park site This site allows the user to learn about forgotten artifacts that can still be found in a popular and expansive urban park. This site took me months to create but has proved to be quite popular.

The Famous People Buried at Green Mount Cemetery site This site allows one to find the grave markers of several notable people buried in the cemetery. One may use the site to transfer the placemarks to any brand of GPS or phone so they may easily find the graves that interest them.

No comments: