ACR ResQLink View Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Reliability and long track record of COSPAS/SARSAT, no annual fees, simple operation
Cons: Larger and heavier than closest competitor
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The ACR ResQLink View uses proven technology, a comprehensive network, and bomber compact electronics to provide the user with reliable, primarily emergency, communication to the outside world. It's an excellent emergency SOS communicator and little to nothing more, but if all you need is emergency messaging directly to SAR resources, the ACR works.
Using the international and government maintained COSPAS/SARSAT satellite network and communication protocol, the ResQLink View taps into a system that is as effective as anything available. All satellite communications have limitations. For example, every single transmission involving satellites requires a clear view of the sky. The View and its relationship with the COSPAS/SARSAT network is no exception. The limitations on emergency communication are mainly terrain and satellite-related and have less to do with the device itself.
If you have a life-threatening emergency, and push the power button on the ResQLink View, a "Y'all come" message will make its way to the best possible local resources. The response takes some time (hours, at minimum), and the length depends significantly on weather, terrain, and local SAR resources. With this device, though, you should have few concerns about the first variable in securing help. The service that monitors COSPAS/SARSAT for emergencies and communicates to local SAR resources depends on the country you register your device in, but that monitoring and communication is free. You need to register your ResQLink, and you may need to pay for the on-the-ground response, but you will never pay a fee for emergency messaging.
Explicitly, the ResQLink View has no option for non-emergency messaging. The design and intention of the COSPAS/SARSAT network is for emergency use only.
There was a time that you could test these devices for functionality using the COSPAS/SARSAT, which involved sending a non-emergency message from the device to the network. For a subscription fee each year, via ACR's 406Link service, they would send notification of a successful device test to one email address and one cell phone of your choosing. They call these "self-test notifications." For a higher subscription fee and a slightly different test procedure, you could include up to five emails and cell numbers. You could also customize the message, which would contain a link to a map showing your location.
However, as of March 2020, this service is suspended. It's all a moot point at the moment. ACR includes 406Link promotional materials with each device, and on the web, so we hold out hope of the service returning.
ACR was also clear that this messaging "hack" was not the intended use of this device and service. They never called this a messaging service. It was a service for confirming the functionality via the device's test procedure, nothing more.
The COSPAS/SARSAT network used by the ResQLink View is world-wide. As with all satellite communications, there are localized terrain limitations and interference issues that stem from device orientation, other electronics, forests, and buildings.
Ease of Use
In its designated function, the ACR View couldn't be easier to use. Initial registration requires some online form-filling. Then you're good to go. In an emergency, you deploy the antenna and push the on button. If 406Link service is resumed and you're interested in using it, you'll need to do some further research from the company itself and familiarize yourself with the most current information.
The ResQLink View is the latest in ACR's multi-decade evolution. Our lead test editor used one of the original ACR beacons in the early 2000s. Fifteen years ago, a device performing this function was four times the size of the View. In this historical perspective, the ACR is tiny and light.
However, as compared to the other options available nowadays, the ACR is twice the size and about 140% of the weight. In many contexts, this is not a big deal. However, for ultralight backpacking and trail running, the weight and bulk will be noticeable.
Value is an important part of the personal locator beacon discussion. When you truly need the attributes of an emergency communication device, it doesn't matter what it costs. However, you don't always need it. Most will not use the emergency communication attributes of any device. Therefore, value the device like you would any insurance policy. The ACR View has an initial purchase price greater than most, but it has no subscription service requirement. It is, for what you could conceivably get out of the deal, an incredible bargain. That said, there are other options with the same functionality that are smaller and less expensive.
Educate thyself on exactly what you are getting with any given locator beacon purchase. More than in most other categories we test, every single product we assessed has its place. The differences are, on one level, subtle. On another level, some of these products couldn't be more different from one another. The ResQLink View is a clever product that rewards the discerning and educated user.
— Jediah Porter