That looks great, but an epirb, even a "personal" one, for $200 just seems too good to be true. Are there real life instances of these things actually working?
The SPOT models are almost all under $200 as well. The simple fact is that the equipment inside these devices costs about $20, and several companies have realized there is a market for people who don't want to be lost at sea but aren't rich either. Because of these companies, very soon you will see even the high end mountable/self deploying/floating GPIRBS come down significantly in price. I'm guessing a $600 GPIRB will be halved in price in two years.
In the meantime, people use these PLBs all the time. If you are really worried about battery life, just bring spare batteries! A benefit of these PLBs is that they use regular off the shelf batteries, so you can keep plenty of spares on board. That being said, the previous owner of my boat had a SPOT, and he reported monthly battery changes because he has the tracking feature constantly on.
I'm ordering a spot. For $169, you can't go wrong. Yes, there is the obligatory service contract, but for a lot of people it's more affordable to pay a little bit at a time. Also, I guarantee I won't be keeping it ten years. Within a few years something better and probably cheaper will be available, and I'll be upgrading.
Found this, not sure how accurate it is:
"The unit requires three AAA lithium batteries that should last for several years in a stored SPOT 2. ... if left in tracking mode, SPOT 2 will work for about 8 days. In the SOS mode that you would use for a real emergency, it is specified to work for about 6 days."