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May 19, 2014

New Advances in Personal Rescue Beacons

Nonemergency communication with personal satellite transmitters augments essential SOS functions.


No Frills
While it’s a different class of device, even the venerable personal locator ­beacon — in particular the ResQLink+ from ACR Electronics — has taken on some aspects of a communicator, though there are notable differences in function from the DeLorme and SPOT ­devices.

“Ours are one-way communication ­devices,” says Nichole Kalil of ACR ­Electronics.

ResQLink does offer a function that allows you to test the 406 mHz emergency transmitter and the integral GPS, and send a position via text or email to yourself and up to five other recipients. To activate the modified test function and take advantage of its capabilities requires registration with an online service, 406Link.com. Limited to the number of tests you can do — 220 normal and 12 GPS tests over the life of the device — the ­ResQLink also has safeguards built in that disallow the battery level to fall below the 24-hour reserve for emergency transmitting.

The 406Link.com account monitors and records the tests, as well as battery life remaining on your PLB.

“This is an enhanced safety feature for peace of mind, not for communication,” says Gabriel Roura, ACR marketing coordinator. “It is not positioned as a communicator or a tracker.”

Standard 406Link.com service, at $39.95 a year, allows for standard self-tests (no GPS), and sends results to you and one other address. The Plus level allows for multiple recipients and GPS through-satellite tests for $59.95 a year. And with no plan at all, the ResQLink is still performs as a fully functioning emergency beacon.

“The 406Link.com is nice to have, but the ResQLink+ works fine without it,” says Kalil.