A worthwhile update in Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) technology thanks to the inclusion of a small LCD display, the ResQlink View offers a quick and reassuring status check. Rupert Holmes puts it to the test
Price as reviewed: £330.00
As far as we know this is the first Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) to incorporate an LCD screen to improve the interface, which fundamentally changes the user experience. In particular the precise meaning of different sequences of flashing LED lights don’t have to be committed to memory.
The distress signal is activated by pressing the central power/on button for two seconds. To prevent accidental activation this is concealed until the antenna has been unlatched from around the unit and swung away from the body. This operation has clearly been thought about carefully and is easily done with one hand, even when wearing gloves.
To assess the usefulness of the on-screen messaging if a self-test fails I initially tried doing so indoors. The message saying the unit was trying to acquire a GPS signal, along with a reminder to check the antenna had a clear view of the sky was reassuring.
When trialling the unit outside, but with the sky still partially obscured by trees and buildings, it scored an almost instant successful result. The display is illuminated for ease of reading in the dark and characters were clearly discernible.
The screen also shows GPS coordinates when the unit is activated, with updates varying between 30 and 60 minute intervals depending on how long the unit has been activated (and therefore the remaining battery life). Other features include both a high-intensity strobe light for location at night and an infra-red strobe for night-vision search and rescue devices.
Although the unit is buoyant, like all PLBs it needs the antenna to be held in the air manually and the body of the unit must be supported out of the water for the GPS antenna to work. This, plus the need for manual activation, are arguably the
biggest weaknesses of PLBs in general.
The ResQlink View is supplied with lanyard and brackets. One is for attaching to the oral inflation tube of a lifejacket – although the unit is quite bulky, so you’d need to check the jacket could be repacked with it fitted. The second bracket has a more conventional clip, plus a hook and loop fastened band for attaching to your arm or belt.
A similar unit, the ResQlink 400, is available without the LCD display. However, I think the benefits of the display are easily worth the additional £50 cost.