Iridium GO! Review: Should You Buy It?

Sailing the world sounds enticing, but how do you stay connected to the world back home? This is a question that 4.1 million people participating in sailing must answer.

Iridium GO! is sold as a combination satellite phone and internet hot spot. Users have the ability to make calls, check their email, update social media, and stay connected with loved ones back home. 

Iridium Go in the Box

When purchasing an Iridium GO! device, it will come as part of a kit that includes everything you need to get started. The first item you will notice is the actual device.

Next is the battery. Then a whole mess of cables including an AC travel charger, USB charging and data cable, international adapters, and an AC car charger.

A protective cover comes for storage and to keep the device safe. There is a ton of paperwork for the user manual, legal information booklet, and GEOS Emergency Services Brochure.

Cost

The device is for sale at a price of $700. Look to places such as Amazon for deals. 

Once purchased, users can access Iridium GO! internet for free through apps. There are costs associated with using data for other tasks.

400 minutes cost just over a thousand dollars. A thousand minutes will cost almost $1,500.

Monthly plans are available through third-party providers. Plans range from 5 data minutes a month to unlimited.

Expect to pay about $50 a month for the minimum of five minutes. Unlimited plans are going to cost $135 to $200 a month.

The Pros

The Iridium GO! gives users the ability to choose whether they opt for fixed installation or keep it as a mobile device. The rugged build and easy set up make it perfect for those who may not be tech-savvy.

Durable

The device is ruggedly engineered with military-grade durability. It has an ingress protection rating of 65.

Ingress protection ratings measure how well the seal of an electrical device protects it from things like dust and moisture. A 65 rating means the device is "dust tight" and protected against water projected from a nozzle. 

Easy Set Up

To get started, put up the integrated antenna. The battery-powered device then connects to the Iridium LEO satellite.

The device is now connected. The WiFi hotspot created is ready for access by smartphones and tablets.

GPS Tracking

GPS capabilities are for tracking location and movement progress. Tracked coordinates can also aid in an SOS situation. The Iridium GO! will act as a beacon broadcasting location data.

Accessories

Looking for more accessories or replacement parts? International adapters, cables, protective covers, wall mount brackets, and a carrying bag are all for sale on the Iridium website. 

Wide Radius of Coverage

Once active, there is a 100-foot radius for WiFi connectivity. Up to five mobile devices can use the hotspot at a time.

Connectivity

Iridium uses 66 low earth orbit satellites. With this kind of coverage, users don't have to aim and hunt for a connection.

Online Resources

Simply going to the website will show the extensive library of downloadable resources. Everything from brochures to troubleshooting is in listed in one place. 

The Apps

Users have access to twenty different integrated apps. Weather routing, forecasts, satellite imagery, email, and GRIB files are all available.

The AeroPlus Aviation Weather App is available to assist pilots. The app provides hard to get data about cloud formation, turbulence, rain, and airport data.

The iNavX app provides one-touch access to all of the marine charts anyone could want. Charts are available from eight different providers.

The GeoPro Web App provides employee check-in, emergency alerting, and monitoring. The app increases safety and reduces the time required for decision making.

The GRIB Explorer Plus app combines GRIB weather data and ocean data. The data is overlaid on images of the earth to give insightful images of the surroundings.

The Cons

As with any satellite-based internet provider, the cost is a deterring factor. Other negative factors relate to features that Iridium is lacking. 

No GPS Repeater

Other internet options provide a GPS repeater, Iridium GO! does not. A GPS repeater lets users see their boat location on a variety of software and devices.

By using this software, many boaters pilot their boat by using the GPS signal and their iPad. This is not an option for Iridium GO! users.

Iridium Email Only

Iridium promises that users can check their email through the apps. This isn't wholly true.

Iridium specific email addresses can send an receive email through GO. If the service is canceled, the account is deleted.

There is no spam protection for these emails. If users want to send and receive email through their own email they will have to sign up for a separate service.

Device Limitations

Iridium GO! is only available for use with smartphones or tablets. Computers and laptops are out. An additional purchase of XGate gives the ability to use a laptop or computer.

Slow Bandwidth Speeds 

The internet provided through Iridium runs at 2400 baud. That is twenty-five times slower than dial-up internet. 

Streaming movies, Skype, and intensive web browsing are out of the picture. Iridium limits browsing to mobile site lookups only.

Expensive

There are free apps that are fully integrated with Iridium GO!. They limit internet use to compression email and web browsing over satellite.

You can only use your Iridium airtime with it. This is the case even if you have access to free WiFi or cell coverage that you would rather be using.

The bandwidth speeds are extremely slow. The only logical option is to pay for the unlimited plan. The 5 minutes a month plan is not enough for any extended or regular use.

Iridium Go Review: The Verdict 

The Iridium GO! offers durability and portability. It lacks in some of the modern features other remote WiFi options provide.

For boaters looking to do quick tasks and navigation, this is a great option. Plan usage carefully to avoid expensive usage fees.

Head on over to our blog for more great articles on boating accessories.

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