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A lot of people now prefer to go off the grid and disconnect from the world. They go on outdoor trips where their mobile devices have no cellular connection. This means days of no text messages, no phone calls, no social media. While this can be very liberating, it may also prove to be a disadvantage when you get lost or you get into situations where you might need help from the outside world, and you cannot call friends for help.
Enter communication devices that do not need cellular signals to work, such as goTenna Mesh and Beartooth. These devices can really help you if you get lost in the woods, or if you find yourself at the bottom of a pit unable to get out.
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goTenna Mesh lets you create your own cellular signals. Just pair it with your smartphone and it will allow you to send your GPS locations and text messages even when you are out of coverage area.
goTenna Mesh (read my full review here!) would relay your location and text from one goTenna device to another. This means that the range of your network will be dependent on how many goTenna Mesh devices are around.
Some features of goTenna Mesh are:
- Private messaging: Your location and texts stay within your network, instead of going to your cellular service provider. You can also send a group message.
- Mesh networking: You can link with other goTenna users within your area, helping you send and relay your messages for a longer distance.
- Delivery confirmation: You do not have to wonder whether your intended recipient has received your message or not because the device will send you delivery confirmation. This is useful in those times when you need assistance. Getting a delivery confirmation will give you peace of mind that help is on the way.
- GPS location mapping: goTenna Mesh connects with GPS satellites to give you the most accurate location information. You can also download offline maps for free, making it easier to create, share, and save pins.
- Relay mode: To make sure that you have comprehensive coverage no matter where you are, you can use GoTenna Mesh in stationary relay mode. You just put up a goTenna device at strategic points so that you can reliably have a way to relay GPS information and location for yourself and your group. The goTenna Mesh has a range of 6.4 kilometers in open areas and 0.8 kilometers in dense areas. Imagine being able to cover the length of more than three and a half Brooklyn Bridges!
- Secure: goTenna Mesh messages are encrypted end to end. This means that even as your message or location is relayed from one goTenna Mesh to another, nobody would be able to read it aside from the intended recipient. What’s more, goTenna does not store your messages in a centralized location.
Aside from these features, you can also subscribe to goTenna Plus, which is optional and which allows you to send and receive more detailed data and information about your current environment. With goTenna Plus, you get topographic maps, group delivery confirmation, location tethering, and trip statistics. Most importantly, you will also be able to activate the SMS network relay feature, which allows you to send SMS messages if a nearby goTenna user has cellular service.
goTenna Mesh has a gray and black body. There are four color options for the attachment straps: blue, orange, green, and purple.
goTenna Mesh comes in sets of two, four, or eight. You can buy a set of two for $179, a set of four for $329, and an eight-pack set for $579.
Beartooth has a much simpler proposition. You use Beartooth to turn your smartphone into a walkie-talkie, but still be able to send text messages and location data even without cellular or Internet connectivity. Think of it as a two-way radio and smartphone in one, even when you are off the grid.
It has a range of 8.0 kilometers for voice and 16.1 kilometers for text and GPS location sharing if you have a clear line of sight between devices. If you don’t, that range is limited to only 3.2 kilometers for voice and 6.4 kilometers for text and location information.
Beartooth can also charge your phone. It has an included charging cable that you can use to connect your smartphone to the device. It can charge an iPhone 6 almost twice. Needless to say, the Beartooth has a long battery life, lasting for days.
Beartooth promises to roll out the mesh feature in the future, where like GoTenna Mesh, it will connect to other Beartooth devices and allow you to extend the range and build your own network.
Comparing the Beartooth and goTenna Mesh
Both the goTenna Mesh and Beartooth guarantee that you will never be out of touch even if you go off the grid. You can send text messages to smartphones that are paired with either device. You can also send GPS data.
There are several differences as well. These two devices differ widely in these areas:
- Form and dimensions.
- Push to talk feature.
- Better maps offered free.
Form and dimensions
goTenna Mesh looks like an old memory stick. It measures 4.2 inches high, 1.3 inches wide and 0.9 thick.
Beartooth, on the other hand, looks like a playing card, measuring 2.4 inches wide, 4.0inches high, and 0.5 inches thick. It is much bulkier than the goTenna Mesh, and a lot less portable as well.
Push-to-talk voice feature
Push-to-talk technology is what makes Beartooth a two-way radio killer. You can send voice messages to another smartphone that is paired with a Beartooth. Much like a two-way radio, you only need to press a button to communicate with the recipient. goTenna Mesh does not have this feature.
Beartooth offers more extensive coverage than goTenna. Here is a comparison table that shows just how Beartooth wins in this category. With a clear line of sight, Beartooth covers an area that is thrice as expansive as the area covered by goTenna. The difference is much more pronounced in denser areas where goTenna Mesh can only cover 0.8 kilometers, while Beartooth can work in an area that is eight times as wide.
|Range with clear line of sight||16.1 kilometers||6.4 kilometers|
|Range with no line of sight||6.4 kilometers||0.8 kilometers|
goTenna Mesh uses a rechargeable LiPo battery that lasts for a little more than 24 hours. Meanwhile, Beartooth’s battery lasts for four days. Furthermore, you can use Beartooth as a power bank. It has 3,000mAh of power, allowing you to fully recharge your smartphone once.
Mesh networking feature
goTenna Mesh allows you to extend your range by using other goTenna devices within the area. As such, all goTenna devices that are within reach with each other are able to relay an SMS or location message to other goTenna devices. This helps goTenna get more coverage.
Beartooth promises that the mesh feature would be available soon, but right now, they do not have this feature. Beartooth is also silent on whether you can use the device on relay mode, which is one of the more important features of goTenna Mesh. You can leave a goTenna Mesh and it will act as a signal repeater that will help relay your message to the intended recipient.
Beartooth more options and more discounts than goTenna Mesh. You can buy Beartooth in 2-, 4-, 6-, 8-, and 12-pack packages starting at $249. You can only get a 2-, 4-, and 8-pack goTenna Mesh package.
Below is a table of how much you would expect to pay for each pack:
No matter what set you are planning to buy, it is evident that goTenna Mesh is much more budget-friendly. It is worthy to point out that as you get a higher pack, the less you pay per device.
A goTenna Mesh would cause anywhere from $76 to $90 per device, depending on the package you choose. Meanwhile, Beartooth costs anywhere from $104 to $125 per device. In general, goTenna Mesh is around 30% to 40% cheaper than Beartooth.
goTenna Mesh vs. Beartooth: The Final Word
Both the GoTenna Mesh and the Beartooth aim to replace your old bulky two-way radio as the go-to device when you expect to be in an area where there are no cellular coverage or no way to get onto the Internet. Both Beartooth and GoTenna Mesh have SMS and GPS capabilities, encrypted messages, better point-to-point range and smaller than your walkie-talkie.
Each device comes with its set of strengths and downsides. Beartooth has a broader range, push-to-talk voice messaging, and superior battery life compared to the goTenna Mesh, but it is also significantly more expensive. It also does not currently offer mesh networking.
On the other hand, goTenna Mesh is more affordable, and currently offers mesh networking capabilities. It does, however, suffer from very poor range and short battery life. Plus, you cannot use it as a power bank to recharge your phone.
Another thing to consider is that mesh networking is only useful when you have a lot of devices in the network. goTenna currently has a lot of users participating in it mesh network, something that Beartooth really cannot claim.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!