Tech Toys: Spot Global Phone bumps up remote communications on land, at sea - Vancouver Sun

SPOT Global Phone, $500

Summer sailing trips often take me off the grid and beyond cellphone range. While I have a marine radio, I have the Spot Satellite GPS Messenger for emergency communications. This summer I’m getting a chance to try out the new Spot Global Phone that bumps up those remote communications considerably. It’s easy-to-use, compact and it can be a lifesaver. Spot, which is a subsidiary of Globalstar, has created a satellite phone that slips into a pocket or backpack and gives you voice and text services wherever you are, as long as you’re in an open space where you can get satellite signals. On a sailboat, that’s not so difficult, hiking in the woods it’s like using your portable GPS, you don’t want to be completely smothered by overhanging trees when you try to tune into passing satellites. Satellite phones used to cost in the thousands. But the price has dropped considerably and SPOT delivers a phone retailing at $500, which — if you’re lost on a mountainside — may seem a bargain. The service starts at $25 a month with per-minute talk time as low as 25 cents. In an emergency, you can dial 911 from wherever you are and you’ll be connected to the nearest emergency services, whether it’s the Coast Guard, police or other emergency responders. It also lets you receive text messages up to 35 characters that senders can post free through the website. You can also use the SPOT Data Kit to connect your SPOT Global Phone to the Globalstar Data Network for sending emails and

Momentum Headphones, Sennheiser, $350

Since that occasion when my colleague Derrick Penner tapped me on the shoulder to tell me my earbuds were no longer connected to my iPhone and the entire newsroom was listening to my Rdio selection, I felt it was time to switch to some serious noise-cancelling earphones. Fortunately, just about the time of that somewhat embarrassing faux pas, I got a chance to try out Sennheiser’s Momentum headphones, which are about as far removed from my earlier generation Apple earbuds as can be. A kind of vintage look combines with great sound and a snug fit, blocking out ambient noise whether it’s on the bus, a plane or colleagues. The earpads are made of an ultrasoft leather, very comfortable if not vegan-friendly.

Samsung ATIV Q, $1,500

The latest addition to Samsung’s ATIV lineup offers a powerful and lightweight solution for those who can’t decide between a notebook computer and a tablet. With a 13.3-inch-high def display of 3,200 by 1,800 pixels, as well as a keyboard it has a stylus. A super slim 14 mm in thickness, it weighs in just under 1.3 kilograms. But the most interesting feature on this new device is its dual-operating system that lets you run in full Windows 8 mode or with Android’s Jelly Bean 4.2.2.


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