My company recently purchased 14 of these devices which offer some services (though at a price) above SPOT and other EPIRB devices.
Navigation, SOS, Tracking but most notably SMS for 2 way comms.
Interested to hear from others more technologically minded and also owners on their experience so far. My experience managing multiple devices on their website seems like they have some teething issues (Garmin recently merged with Inreach) and so far without much joy from Garmin support.
I've had the Explorer (no navigation) for about three years. Once you get it set up its great. But I agree that the Garmin website and support leaves a bit to be desired.
I use the SMS function on every tramp (to tell the family we are are at the hut and OK). And I've inadvertently tested the emergency function once - I received an SMS message asking if I was OK and my wife received a phone call (as she was the emergency contact).
I had a bit more time to tinker with the units. Yes, Garmin explorer+ merges features of both navigation functions and satellite 2 way messaging of inreach. Though navigation only works after the device is activated i.e. a cost depending on the plan chosen. I'm led to believe you can cancel an SOS within a set period of time. For companies with multiple devices, you can set up an Enterprise account allowing the appointment of an admin to control device/user set-up. It also allows advising on what GEOS does in the event of an SOS been triggered e.g. contacting company appointed SAR primary responders to allow the event to be managed internally using internal procedures planned for such an event.
Messaging and tracking features are easy to use by blue toothing with a smartphone and using the smartphone to message rather the Garmin keyboard. There is also track share which allows users in a group to view the messages and positions of fellow users.
GEOS is the same used by SPOTs. The biggest advantage with the Explorers over SPOT is the ability to have a 2-way conversation. But it comes at a price. I think a SPOT annual subscription is about $140. My company is paying about $100/month for the privilege of the Garmin (and 14 devices!) but the line of work is remote and I guess justified. They also carry satellite phones as a 1st option. For the personal user, one can deactivate and reactivate as needed. I already own a SPOT Gen 3 and navigate via topo map, compass and altimeter and carry mountain radio for updating position, weather reports and logistics. So for me, on personal tramps and having already a SPOT and subscription I'd stick with my system and wouldn't rush out to buy a Garmin.
As an Enterprise user with 14 devices, its been a self-learning process as Garmin told us this group feature was still a month or so away. So still a few teething problems I guess to iron out.
Basic inreach subscription is currently $23 a month. Goes up & down like a (choose your metaphor). Dropped as low as $10 a year or two back but crept back up again.
Thats for 10 free messages and no free tracking. Gets more expensive when you start tracking rather than just messaging.
Been using the old black inreach brick for 7 years or so. Bulletproof. Great piece of practical technology. Work use the fancy newer ones with screens and use a different web interface (trackme?) to the default garmin/delorme one I get. Theirs seems easier. They are also set up to notify RCCNZ direct if an SOS whereas mine is rhe default if inreach's global coirdination centre in the US.