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A GoTenna Mesh Review (MSRP 179.99)

     Most people become somewhat anxious when their smartphones canít find a service provider signal or a WiFi connection. This lack of connectivity often happens when people go hiking in remote areas where you are not near cellular towers and no one is providing free WiFi near your location. This also happens to tourists when they go abroad and keep their smartphones in airplane mode to avoid large bills from their service provider.
     I decided to test GoTenna Mesh on a recent trip to the British Isles. Before leaving the USA I downloaded the GoTenna software from the Apple App store onto my wifeís iPhone and the Android Play Store for my Samsung Note 8. I pretested the technology in New York and found that it made it possible for my wife to stay in communication by sending texts using the app when we were a few miles apart. For the test we both turned off our WiFi and placed our phones in airplane mode. Pretesting was short since my main goal was to see if GoTenna could provide the service while traveling outside of the USA while our phones remained in airplane mode.
     When we got to Europe things did not go smoothly. For a quick moment we turned off airplane mode so our phones could identify the time change and their location in London. The GoTenna app on my phone indicated it was changing the radio frequency to match my location and using free WiFi at our hotel I downloaded the United Kingdom maps.
     Our phones couldnít connect with each other. Using WiFi I contacted GoTenna by email and their suggestions didnít solve the problem. While we were on the cruise of the British Isles I decided to remove the app from the iPhone and then re-download it using the local free WiFi in a nice department store in Dublin. The app properly switched radio frequencies to match Europe and I downloaded the proper GPS maps. For a while they worked as advertised and then when we were in Scotland I went to use the goTenna local map on my Samsung Note 8 the phone showed that I was in Florida while I obviously was still in the British Isles. I could excuse the original problems with the iPhone but there is no excuse why my phone which worked perfectly with GoTenna for a number of days suddenly changed the working frequency back to the USA and even then why the GPS mapping feature of the app would suddenly indicate I was in Florida? The fact finding for the review was sadly complete on a rather negative note.

Pro
     While my Samsung Note 8 was not able to communicate with my wifeís iPhone the GoTenna app GPS mapping feature did a good job helping us navigate some of the streets in London as we found our way from the Hop on Hop Off sightseeing bus to specific sites we wanted to visit. In London, see screenshots, the map showed a lot of detail and the topographical features of the area with us as a moving dot. Using it was somewhat similar to using a Waze map and watching how the dot that represented us moved on the map. We could not, nor did I expect to be able to requesting directions to a specific location.

Con
     The company indicates that GoTenna Mesh can relay texts and provide GPS locations without a WiFi or Cellular signal. Not clear why but once I left the USA the units had trouble staying on the proper frequency for Europe this made the communication they promised not available. 
Each person you wish to communicate with needs to wear
a GoTenna and have the app on their smartphone.
Day 1 of  the Trip
Even though we are standing next to each other GoTenna can't find my wife in London.
Day 2 of  the Trip
We can't communicate using texts but the GoTenna GPS location system works, we are the blue dot, and it helps us find where we want to go in London. In London the map had a great deal of detail.
Day 8 of the Trip
We are in Scotland
BUT
GoTenna has us in Florida

My Samsung Note 8 worked properly for mapping until we were in Scotland. It suddenly changed the working frequency back to the USA. If you look closely you will see Lauderdale, Oakland Park, and Dania Beach all locations in Florida.
By Alan J. Pierce EdD
pierceaj@techtoday.us