In the wake of securing $7.5 million in funding, goTenna announced that their off the grid communication product will now be available through REI–the only retailer beyond goTenna themselves allowed to sell the product. Lightweight, weatherproof, and easy to use, goTenna turns your phone into an off the grid communicator, letting you text and share GPS locations on detailed offline maps for free.
Using a cognitive digital radio, goTenna creates its own signal and coordinates with other units within range so you can chat 1-to-1 or with a group, or broadcast openly to any nearby goTenna device. Using Bluetooth Low-Energy (BTLE), the device wirelessly pairs to your phone in order to communicate–as long as you keep your phone within a 20-foot range. Within the accompanying app, you can send and receive messages from other goTenna users as well as share your location on a map. For peace of mind, you get confirmation that your message has been received by the other party and you can even encrypt messages if you are worried about them being read by someone other than the intended party.
The range is comparable to other 2W VHF radios and depends on terrain and elevation–up to 1 mile in urban settings and 4 miles in most outdoor terrain. To maximize performance, goTenna suggests you attach the device externally (not inside your backpack) and as high off the ground as is practical. The device comes with nylon attachment straps.
The rechargeable lithium polymer battery lasts 24+ hours on standby. The device features flash memory for hundreds of messages and status indicator lights to let you know what is happening.
goTenna is available at REI for $199–they are sold in pairs to ensure you can stay connected to at least 1 friend when there’s no cellular coverage or Wi-Fi available.
I am curious about your thoughts on these off the grid communication devices–worth approximately double the price of standard walkie talkies? And what about Beartooth which offers off the grid voice, text, and map services for the same price as goTenna?