Touted as a simpler, subscription-free alternative to the Delorme inReach, the Text Anywhere is a portable, satellite-powered hot spot that adds virtually unlimited text-messaging range to your phone. If your work or play takes you to remote regions of the world out of mobile phone range, this device can keep you in touch with the folks back in civilization.
The Text Anywhere unit pairs with compatible Wi-Fi-equipped computers, smartphones, laptops and tablets. However, unlike some other satellite pairing devices, the Text Anywhere works via a Web app rather than relying on an OS-specific app, giving users a little extra device flexibility. Just like the inReach, it works on the Iridium satellite network, providing global coverage – with the exception of some countries where it is currently disabled, such as Cuba and North Korea, and in places with no clear view of the sky, such as canyons and under thick tree canopies.
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To use the Text Anywhere device, you simply select it as your Wi-Fi network on a compatible device and open the browser-based application. You can then send 160-character text messages or text-only emails. It is a two-way device, so you can also receive text messages and text-only emails, and other functions include social media integration and location sharing.
Unlike the inReach, the Text Anywhere is not designed as a rescue device. While you could theoretically use it to contact a friend or rescue agency via text or email, it does not connect you directly to a global rescue coordination center the way inReach and SPOT satellite beacons do. Its location-sharing feature is also not designed as a rescue pinpointing tool. This is really just a device to keep you in touch with friends and family while out of mobile phone range, not a satellite rescue beacon.
The Text Anywhere measures 4 x 4 x 1.5 in (10 x 10 x 4 cm) and weighs 7 oz (200 g) before you pop in the four AA batteries. The device can also be powered by a vehicle's electrical outlet with the included 12-volt adapter.
An advantage of the Text Anywhere is that it doesn't require an annual or multi-month package subscription contract. As I personally learned with the SPOT messenger, annual subscriptions for such satellite beacons cost a lot of money (especially when they lock you into an auto-renew) for very little usage. Most users will only need them for a couple of weeks or months out of the year, so a flexible, no-subscription model is an advantage.
Text Anywhere offers a monthly package for US$29.99, which includes 100 messages. The overage rate is $0.27 per message, and there is a one-time activation fee of $35. The device itself costs $399.
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