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ACR ResQLink View Review

An excellent emergency-only (with one debatable caveat) personal beacon
ACR ResQLink View
Photo: Acrartex
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Price:  $365 List | $364.95 at REI
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
Manufacturer:   Acrartex
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 3, 2020
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • SOS/Emergency Messaging - 30% 9
  • Non-Emergency Messaging - 25% 1
  • Signal Coverage - 20% 9
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Portability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The ACR ResQLink View is a compact, full-function personal locator beacon from a long-standing company. Like all the devices that use the COSPAS/SARSAT communication network and protocol, the explicit function of the ResQLink View is limited to emergency SOS transmission. Its closest competitor offers access to the same service (our Buying Advice article has a breakdown of all the networks in use). Identifying the ACR's application is as simple as describing what it does. If you need a device for remote environment emergency search and rescue summons, and you are interested in researching the functionality of ACR's "406Link" subscription service as a sort of messaging option, this is your best bet.

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ACR ResQLink View
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ACR ResQLink View
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $364.95 at REI
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$350.00 at REI
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$349.95 at Amazon$350 List$304.95 at REI
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Pros Reliability and long track record of COSPAS/SARSAT, no annual fees, simple operationSmall, two-way textingCompact, great network, on-device basic controlsSmall, affordable subscription options, proven satellite and dispatch networks, simpleReasonable initial purchase price, no paid subscription, uses proven global network, compact
Cons Larger and heavier than closest competitorComplicated to compare costs, texting on device is very slowNo on-device message viewing or composition, USB-C chargingOnly supports SOS on the device itselfNo non-emergency messaging
Bottom Line An excellent emergency-only (with one debatable caveat) personal beaconEmergency and routine text communications from the backcountry, in a tiny packageA small, light, and full-function two-way messenger that competes closely with the top of the heapCompact, simple, two-way satellite communications using proven technology and relatively affordable subscription optionsThis device provides a compact and affordable “help me” button in your pocket
Rating Categories ACR ResQLink View Garmin inReach Mini Bivystick Blue Somewear Global Hot... Ocean Signal rescue...
SOS Emergency Messaging (30%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Non Emergency Messaging (25%)
1
9.0
8.0
6.0
1
Signal Coverage (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Portability (10%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Specs ACR ResQLink View Garmin inReach Mini Bivystick Blue Somewear Global Hot... Ocean Signal rescue...
2-way Messaging? No Yes Yes Yes No
2-way Messaging Available via Cellular/Wifi? No No No Yes No
Custom Messaging Viewable and Composable on Device? No Yes No No No
Passive Tracking (turn on and forget about it - viewers at home can watch your progress on the web) No Yes Yes Yes No
Weight w/ Batteries (ounces) 5.3 3.5 3.6 4.1 4
Battery Life (hours) 28 Up to 50 Up to 120 Up to 1000 messages 24
Waterproof Rating 16.40 ft (5m) @ 1 hr IPX7 (splashes & weather proof, nonsubmersible) IP67 IPX7 Up to 15 meters
Pairs with Smartphone? No Yes Yes Yes No
Satellite Network COSPAS/SARSAT Iridium Iridium Iridium COSPAS/SARSAT
Dimensions (inches) 4.4 x 2.0 x 1.4 3.9 x 2 x 1 1.9 x .9 x 4.5 3 x 3.6 x .8 3 x 2 x 1.3
Cubic Inches (LxWxH) 12.3 7.8 7.7 8.6 6.8

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.

Performance Comparison


The ACR ResQLink View is an emergency only, reliable, messenger for...
The ACR ResQLink View is an emergency only, reliable, messenger for all kinds of human-powered adventures. On a trip where weight doesn't matter a ton, you might bring this in a big group as a back up to your two-way primary messenger.
Photo: Jediah Porter

SOS/Emergency Messaging


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.

The ResQLink View screen indicates some things about the function...
The ResQLink View screen indicates some things about the function. In this case, the screen notes that the device passes its internal self test.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Non-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.

That being said, you can test these devices for functionality using the COSPAS/SARSAT, which involves sending a non-emergency message from the device to the network. For a subscription fee each year, via ACR's 406Link service, they will 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 can include up to five emails and cell numbers. You can also customize the message, which would contain a link to a map showing your location. Further understanding of the "off label" use of 406Link for non emergency communications requires fully versing yourself in ACR's materials.

The ResQLink View, set up to send its signal through the included...
The ResQLink View, set up to send its signal through the included, folding antenna.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Signal Coverage


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.

The ResQLink View, stowed and ready for carry as an emergency...
The ResQLink View, stowed and ready for carry as an emergency back-up communication plan.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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. For 406Link service you'll need to do some further research from the company itself and familiarize yourself with the most current information.

You register your ACR beacon with the US national weather service...
You register your ACR beacon with the US national weather service. They provide a sticker to record your information.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Portability


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 (in an even more rudimentary fashion) 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


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.

A subset of the tested satellite messengers. The ACR ResQLink View...
A subset of the tested satellite messengers. The ACR ResQLink View is second from the left on the top row.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Conclusion


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