Boat owners are happiest on their boat and second happiest when they know it is safe. Over the past year, we’ve seen many products designed to help boaters know all is well with their vessels. These gizmos have ranged from ones as simple as a motion-activated lipstick-tube camera to satellite-communication systems monitoring entryways and bilge water, maintaining a geofence around the boat and, on some, even letting you peek on board if something has gone awry.
Here are a handful of contenders to consider and the process by which we evaluated them.
How We Tested
Satellite, Cellular or Wi-Fi?
Vessels capable of cruising overseas need satellite communication to be tracked offshore. Cellular range is most economical for inland vessels, and Wi-Fi is usually useful in the marina. The devices we tested used at least two of these communication bands to offer maximum security for our test vessel. We gave three points to the products that used all three bands and fewer points for those using fewer bands.
Wi-Fi, Satellite and Cellular: 3
Satellite and Cellular: 2
Wi-Fi Only: 1
Tech Support Access
Not one of these devices is exactly plug-and-play easy to install. The good news is that tech support was easily available for them all. Some answered their tech support line instantly, and some within a reasonable wait of a couple of minutes. We awarded points as follows:
Instant Access: 3
Short Wait: 2
Unreasonable Wait: 0
Could the average, everyday, computer-savvy user set this up single-handedly?
With Tech Support: 2
An App for That?
App and Online Access: 3
Fully Addressable in an App: 3
Online Only: 2
Email, Text with Location: 3
Email, Text When Geofence Is Breached: 2