I’ve always carried a satellite phone (satphone) with me since we started travelling solo through the outback. Recently though, I’ve had a change in circumstance and I started looking for an alternative, enter the Zoleo Satellite Communicator.
The satphone has always been more of a fall back for the what ifs and I’ve only ever used it once when we did a wheel bearing on a trailer on the Birdsville Track.
I’ve also carried a personal locator beacon (PLB) just in case the proverbial, you know what I mean, hits the fan.
Why did I look for an alternative to these devices?
We’ve recently moved back to Kings Canyon and I’ve gone back to rangering for awhile in country we love so much. Kings Canyon, in Watarrka National Park, is by the shortest distance a bit over 300km from Alice Springs.
There is little mobile coverage out this way until you get closer to Alice Springs. Given both Amanda and I have to travel to Alice I decided it would be nice to have a few options in the one device.
The Zoleo Satellite Communicator offers this ability and it means I only need the one device. The Zoleo pairs with an app downloaded to your phone and enables a simple interface to communicate with.
If I need help I can activate the SOS function and this also includes a cancel function if accidental or unwarranted assistance is required. I can also send an email or sms to contacts or to a pre-determined emergency contact person.
On top of this I can quickly send a check in message to a contact to say that everything is ok. What, you want more?
Well, you can also access weather forecasts and share your location with others.
So, what do you get with the Zoleo? To see an unboxing of the device please see this little clip I did right here.
All too often with devices like these little issues arise with downloading, upgrading firmware or the like but I was pleasantly surprised that after charging, setup was effortless and just worked. Bravo Zoleo!
I also got the Zoleo Universal Mounting Bracket so I could fit it in either of our 4wds so it was nice and easy. I’ve had the ram mounts before and have found them to work perfectly well in all sorts of conditions.
You can also simply use the supplied carabiner to attach the Zoleo to your belt or backpack or whatever.
How does it work? The Zoleo Satellite Communicator sends and receives messages via the Iridium global satellite network when you’re outside of mobile range.
Though the ZOLEO app works over the satellite network it also seamlessly messages via your mobile network or Wi-Fi when its available. So, you’ll never miss a message even if your Zoleo device isn’t on.
- Dedicated SMS number and email
- Long messages of 950+ characters
- Familiar texting experience
- Tiny and lightweight you’ll never consider leaving it behind
- Superior protection from dust and water (IP68)
- Send an SOS alert with 24/7 emergency monitoring and dispatch included (provided by GEOS)
- Check-in with one touch, to let others know you’re OK
- Get DarkSky™ weather forecasts
- Share your GPS location with others
Is it worth buying?
I’ve used the Zoleo a few times now, more so out of convenience rather than need. I was up on top of Kings Canyon recently and was taking photos of flows in the creek and I used the messaging function just to let my wife Amanda know I was taking my time.
I’ve also used the weather function because I could and I can see how this would benefit users about to head off across uncertain country and found out weather was coming in. A story about a single vehicle trying to cross the Simpson Desert late in the season comes to mind where they were bogged for days and had to be rescued from their plight.
I’ve always been pretty independent but I have found that taking the device with me or sending the wife off to Alice Springs solo just makes me feel more comfortable.
Things to Consider
I don’t see this device as a substitute for a satphone. In my humble opinion there is nothing like being able to talk directly with someone.
There is a subscription fee to think about. While you can get a quite reasonable plan for low use you can also upscale for high use.
You can see more info about the plans here. You can also suspend your plan when not using it.
I see the Zoleo fitting in with our style of travel however. It means we can send a SMS or an email using the simple to use phone app and save our satphone for important conversations.
All in all I’m rapt with this device. It just works which is something that just doesn’t happen regularly with technology these days.
It will certainly find a place in our normal day to day travel but it will also accompany us on our outback trips as well. Well done Zoleo!