Thought we'd just start a new SPOT thread dedicated to reports from actual use in Alaska. Anyone who's been using a SPOT, feel free to share your actual results here including areas where it does and doesn't work.
I received one for Christmas and have been using it ever since, running "tests" here and there. So far I've used it in the Kenai and Valdez areas and along the road in between. I recieved the unit with a 1/2 off discount for the tracking feature, so I signed up for that to see how well it worked.
Using the HELP (as a test msg) and the OK (check in) features, I've been 100% successful in getting these messages with accurate coordinates sent. Not a single failure yet. I've set the interface up so that it sends a txt msg to my cell phone as well as to several email accounts. It is literally ~5 seconds between the sending msg indicator on the SPOT to the location report arriving on my cell phone. This is with both the check in and help messages.
Now, the results of the tracking feature are not quite as pretty. Note that when the tracking feature is activated, the unit sends a single message every 10 minutes with the location at that moment. These track logs are not sent to your email or text message contacts, they are only viewable on a website that you set up via your SPOT account. You can provide this web link to others and they can view your progress remotely. They would only be able to see what you allow them to see (track logs, messages, or both) and you can password protect the access if you want. They can't access any of your other SPOT account info or features.
I've recently been in Valdez and using the tracking feature over there while driving around, I was getting about 75% transmission of the track points. Yesterday, I drove from Valdez to Soldotna. I sent a check in msg as I departed and then turned on the tracking mode and left SPOT on my dashboard the entire trip. I sent one more check in msg upon arrival. Over the 9 hour and 20 minute journey, it sent about 55 track points. Only 33 of them arrived, which is a 60% success rate. The areas where the track points didn't get through included Keystone Canyon, most of Thompson Pass, and a section of the Richarson Hwy through Copper Center. Granted, I was north bound in these areas with the SPOT on my dashboard. The comm sats would be behind me and the truck cab could have reduced the success rates. The couple other gaps in the track log were at times when I had tall mountains to the south including Matanuska Glacier area, Eagle River, and Turnagain arm. There was a gap around Skilak lake also. Over all, it would have been pretty easy for someone to follow my progress, even with the missing track points here and there.
Another item to consider is that the GlobalStar sats are also moving, so over a 9 hour period that constellation would also have been changing. On my next trip over to Valdez, I'll repeat the experiment while traveling the other direction to see if there is any alignment between the gaps that might indicate geographical blocking of the signal.
I've attached a picture pulled from the Google map showing my track points and the start/end OK points (it is zoomed out quite a bit). Note it is a typical Google map, so you can zoom in, view satellite terrain images, etc. Clicking on any of the SPOT track points would show you the exact coords of that point along with the exact date/time it was sent.
Will post more as I accumulate more data, but would like to hear actual field reports from others as well.