goTele off-grid GPS tracking & txt messaging radio

When it comes to GPS tracking there are quite a few options out there. Unfortunately, most of them either require a monthly plan and only work where there is cellphone coverage. Or they are able to function without cellular, but offer very short range tracking. goTele offers the best of both worlds with long range live GPS tracking as well as zero subscription fees and the ability to work off the grid without any cellular coverage.

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goTele accomplishes it’s long range off grid tracking capability by utilizing DS-SS transceiver technology with 1 watt of RF power output on the 902-928MHz ISM band. Two goTele’s are required for tracking and each is capable of tracking the other. An iOS or Android smartphone or tablet is required when tracking a goTele, but is not required for the goTele that is being tracked. As far as the physical radio system goes I would have liked to see an external antenna connection option for those users that want to extend their range even further. I also feel the app interface is a bit clunky and confusing at times. It definitely needs a redesign with usability improvements in mind.

The wireless link between the goTele and your smartphone is achieved with Bluetooth 4.0 which provided a very useful range. I was able to easily leave my goTele in an upstairs window and still maintain the Bluetooth link to my smartphone downstairs.

goTele is a great real time tracking option for those with children, elderly parents/grandparents, pets, or valuables that they want to keep safe and sound. One of the more useful tracking features is the geofence option which allows you to set a variably sized virtual circle around your location. Then if the goTele leaves that circle you receive an alert on your phone. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a way to turn off the geo fence feature, so it is stuck on and continues to endlessly notify me that the goTele I’m tracking has left my geo fence. My favorite tracking feature is the “snail trail” that is left behind the track of a moving goTele. It’s really handy to be able to see the exact route your friends took to get to their current position. Live group position tracking is also possible, however I was unable to test this feature as I was only sent two units for testing. I would have liked to have seen the option to switch between metric and imperial for the distance measurements since most Americans are not very familiar with the metric system.

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The other main feature of goTele is the ability to communicate via text messages without the use of cellular or WiFi internet. This capability is especially handy when out hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing, hunting, or other outdoor activities that typically take place where there is no cellphone signal coverage. This allows you to text message chat with individuals as well as groups of up to 30 goTele users. Though functional, the chat interface is fairly spartan with no delivery confirmation and no read receipts. Luckily there are date/time stamps for each message. Plus, there is the ability to send your location on a map via text message as well.

During my field testing I was pleasantly surprised at the effective range of these goTele devices. Even in a dense urban environment I was able to achieve a reliable range of 1 – 2.5 miles with a maximum of 4.42 miles from an elevated urban position. While testing in a more rural environment with a mix of open prairie and dense snow covered pine trees I was able to achieve a max range of 6.82 miles. One of my final tests achieved my overall maximum range of 8.35 miles. This test took place while on a bike ride with my brothers along the banks of the Columbia River on the Oregon and Washington State border. Conducting this test over mostly open water and open flat ground with very few buildings or other obstructions is what made this maximum range possible. I believe much further range (possibly double) is achievable if each goTele were placed on mountain peaks with a direct and unimpeded line of sight. While I was definitely impressed with the range of these devices I would have liked to see them utilize some form of mesh networking to extend the potential range even further. I would have also liked to see some form of “store/forwarding” technology for messaging which is really effective when two or more users are regularly going in and out of range of each other.

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Each goTele also has a very cool SOS feature with a dedicated button on the device that will work even if you don’t have a smartphone paired to it. This could be really useful for kids and elderly parents/grandparents who might need assistance on occasion. I think it’s a really great stand out feature that makes goTele stand out from the competition. Just remember that the “SOS” feature on goTele is not a true emergency beacon and doesn’t take the place of an official Satellite PLB emergency transponder beacon (Personal Locator Beacon), SPOT GPS satellite beacon or InReach satellite beacon.

Another great feature that really puts the icing on the cake is the goTele apps ability to download and store navigation maps offline. This is essential when exploring where cellular signals are scarce. It’s also especially convenient to have one “do it all” app for tracking, communicating and navigating, reducing the need to continually switch back and fourth between various apps.

Each goTele has a 1,800mAh internal lithium ion battery which is charged by a standard Micro USB cable. When fully depleted, recharging will take roughly 2-4 hours depending on the USB charger used. While the goTele website boasts up to 48 hours of battery life, my testing showed that with regular use a much more realistic estimate is around 12.5 hours. Maybe this can be improved with a firmware and app update.

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goTele has a waterproof rating of IP67 which means it is protected against dust and is water resistant up to 3 feet. It is also capable of operating in temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. goTele weighs in at three ounces and has the following dimensions: 2.95”x1.96”x0.86” inches.

I found the goTele off-grid GPS tracking devices to be extremely well built and the radio system very effective and reliable at tracking and communicating. I would definitely trust this device for tracking a young or elderly loved one. If you have a medium to large sized dog that likes to run off frequently then goTele is a must have gadget! The SOS button is especially nice for kids and grandparents who might need to call for assistance. I also highly recommend these goTele devices for people who want to stay in contact while enjoying the great outdoors and international travel.

Prices:

2 Pack: $158
3 Pack: $237
5 Pack: $380
10 Pack: $710

For more info and purchasing please visit the following web links:

http://gotele.net

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gotele-off-grid-tracking-device-for-any-adventure–4#/

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