Published on May 4th, 2014 | by Greg0
Vexilar SonarPhone T-Pod: Fishing In The Smartphone Era
We often love single-purpose gadgets here, gear that does one thing and does it well, rather than trying to be an all-around do-everything tool. But the best part of modern smartphones is that they combine the best of both worlds, taking the general-purpose computer and putting it in the palm of your hand, while also serving as the brains for a variety of accessories and extras. In other words, they don’t try to be a speaker system, but do a good job of connecting to them.
The same is true for more obscure applications as well: take fishing for example. The Vexilar SonarPhone T-Pod is a wireless peripheral that makes your smartphone into a fish diner, thanks to a cute little ball and some sophisticated electronics and a free software app. The app is available for both iOS and Android users, and Vexilar makes a wide range of marine gear including other sounding devices so they have experience in this field and a history of supporting sport fishing. The SonarPhone can work anywhere, though isn’t suggested for ice fishing, and doesn’t need cell signal in order to work- just for the ball to be reasonably near your phone.
We’ve tested another similar gadget, and the restrictions and advantages over traditional fish finders are similar. We liked that we didn’t need to keep track of any extra components (no silicone sleeve), and this bobbing little yellow guy is easily spotted in any water and seemed pretty well built. Plus, wifi can be more reliable and offer better range than Bluetooth. This pod is bigger than you might expect, a bit smaller than a tennis ball and surprisingly hard to cast out though. Water activated, you don’t need to fool with buttons and the device turns on automatically. Pairing requires connecting to a unique network, a fair bit of effort and manual pairing and requires a few steps and a password and code- a default 12345678. Once inside the app, you can set up audible alarms, and it’s a fairly simple system similar to basic fish finders, with visual indicators for possible targets and a 120 foot depth maximum. However, the menus and the interface are far harder to use than we’ve seen from others, and made every action a bit of a chore.
The battery life of the SonarPhone is good- more than four hours- and the range/accuracy were impressive, plus we didn’t have any major connectivity issues. But the app could use some work, and it lacks the social components and fish fact libraries that competitors have included. Available for around $120, though, the Vexilar SonarPhone is a pretty nifty system, and only a couple of small tweaks need to be made to the app in order for it to offer a lot of value.