inReach satellite communicator for smartphones by DeLorme
$249.95 at inreachdelorme.com
Itís summer, time to get away from it all -- but not too far away. In case youíre planning a road trip thatíll take you out of cellphone range, Maine-based mapping company DeLorme offers the inReach, a communications gadget that keeps users in touch no matter how far they may roam.
The inReach is a chunky, ruggedized device powered by a couple AA batteries. But thatís enough power to send SMS text messages into outer space, where they get picked up by the Iridium satellite communications network and relayed to friends or family.
A built-in Bluetooth radio lets you link the inReach to Apple or Android smartphones, with help from a free app that talks to the inReach device. Just launch the app, pound out a text message and hit send. The recipient even gets a Web link to a map that uses the phoneís GPS to display your current location. The recipient can also holler back, because inReach supports two-way texting.
The satellite service is rather pricey -- a $24.95 annual fee covers just 40 messages. But how many do you need to say youíve spotted a bear? And if the bear attacks, thereís an emergency SOS button. Hold it down, and rescue agencies are notified of your location and asked to send help. Itís just the thing for people who want a taste of life in the wilderness, but prefer to avoid a fatal overdose.