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Old 25-01-2023, 19:14   #1
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SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

We are looking to do a 10 day passage in the S.Pacific from NZ to Fiji and need email for gribs etc. I am weighing up the options in terms of mail clients (no starlink available).

Our hardware is Iridium Extreme and PactorIII.

SailMail : Can use with both PactorIII and iridium Extreme
XGate: Can use with Iridium - not sure about PactorIII?

XGate certainly talks a good game about being optimised for email (compression), and blocking big files etc. Could not find any information on how much if any SailMail also compresses data?

Does anyone have any real world comparison of the two? With costs starting to mount (Sailmail $200 or so USD) and the various bits for the Iridium I am tempted just to go with one or the other (rather than having both, with one as a backup).

Finally has anyone bothered with a RedPort? Did it make any difference on top of the Xgate compression?
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Old 25-01-2023, 19:53   #2
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

When we had an Iridium 9555 phone we used the UUPlus client on our MacBook (also works on Windows and Linux). We email requested gribs from Sailmail (no cost) and they would come back an hour or so later. We connected the phone 4x per day for two grib requests per day and any emails or SMS that we bothered to send to family and friends and their replies. Worked just fine.

We looked at xGate but UUPlus offered monthly subscriptions while xGate wanted annual only.

Once we got to the islands we stopped using the Iridium and used local mobile networks - good enough for the SW side of Fiji and pretty much all of Tonga.

We also had a PW Standard subscription that we kept active for the entire period for weather routing and GPS tracking.

Regarding email compression, UUPlus does that too. However, our Iridium phone was connected to a RedBox and that does compression as well for everything going through the sat phone connection.

Now we just use an Iridium GO. The Iridium email client isnít fancy but it works well enough for data and emails. The GO application is good enough for phone calls and SMS.
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Old 25-01-2023, 20:23   #3
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

Sailmail is also compressed, there should be little or no performance advantage with X-gate or UUPlus. As far as I can tell, X gate gives you some ability to *maybe* browse the web (at additional cost), or use a more sophisticated modern email client. But there should not be a performance difference for email and grib downloads.

If you plan to keep cruising for a few years, airtime plans on the Go! are cheaper than on the Extreme. But for 10 days, it isn't worth the expense and hassle to change.
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Old 25-01-2023, 22:09   #4
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

Sailmail is currently US$275/year
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Old 25-01-2023, 22:23   #5
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

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Originally Posted by wholybee View Post
Sailmail is also compressed, there should be little or no performance advantage with X-gate or UUPlus. As far as I can tell, X gate gives you some ability to *maybe* browse the web (at additional cost), or use a more sophisticated modern email client. But there should not be a performance difference for email and grib downloads.

If you plan to keep cruising for a few years, airtime plans on the Go! are cheaper than on the Extreme. But for 10 days, it isn't worth the expense and hassle to change.
Go! plans? I didn't realize that the sim could be locked to only with with a Go?

I understood that a plan which is connected to a sim IMEI would work in any iridium device.
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Old 26-01-2023, 11:14   #6
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

We also use UUplus with an Iridium Extreme (9575) phone. One advantage of UUplus is it takes advantage of Iridium’s RUDICS data optimization service. (Not available on GO data plans.) The result is much briefer handshakes during connect, and quick data transfer.

This is quantified from use since 2014- including a year of comparing to the GO.

UUplus will be your best short contract option with monthly plans. We find it pays for itself in Sat minutes saved.

FWIW

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Old 28-01-2023, 23:42   #7
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

Could I use just the sailmail client (without a sailmail subscription) to connect to Iridium mail service?

The reason being AFAIK Iridium mail service only supports clients on IOS or Android (annoying).
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Old 29-01-2023, 19:34   #8
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigAl.NZ View Post
Could I use just the sailmail client (without a sailmail subscription) to connect to Iridium mail service?

The reason being AFAIK Iridium mail service only supports clients on IOS or Android (annoying).
No. The sailmail client (called Airmail) only works with a very select few services, namely winlink (which it was written for) and sailmail (which was modeled after and close resembles winlink). These services use a custom email protocol called B2F (compared to POP3 or IMAP used for most Internet email). B2F is compressed and optimized for slow links.

The Iridium mail client uses it's own proprietary protocol, which I know nothing about. Only working on mobile devices is by design. The Iridium mail service/app is provided by X-Gate, and they want you to subscribe to them to get the full suite of features. (I know I have read that somewhere, but can't find the information right now)
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Old 29-01-2023, 20:05   #9
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

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No. The sailmail client (called Airmail) only works with a very select few services, namely winlink (which it was written for) and sailmail (which was modeled after and close resembles winlink). These services use a custom email protocol called B2F (compared to POP3 or IMAP used for most Internet email). B2F is compressed and optimized for slow links.

The Iridium mail client uses it's own proprietary protocol, which I know nothing about. Only working on mobile devices is by design. The Iridium mail service/app is provided by X-Gate, and they want you to subscribe to them to get the full suite of features. (I know I have read that somewhere, but can't find the information right now)
Thats a great reply - thank you.

I am at a cross roads and as I see it have two options:

Iridium Extreme (which I can borrow free)
Don't need a working cellphone
Free
Would get Sailmail Subscription so that Extreme can check mail
Will get GRIBs via PredictWind offshore app on PC (probably cant transfer them to plotter (Raymarine Axiom)?)

IridiumGo
Need to buy one
Don't need a mail client as it comes with one (but would still probably get SailMail)
Will work with Predict WindOffshore app natively on our plotter (and PC)
Much easier to Text on SmartPhone

It appears both do voice - although the Go! needs a smart phone to do this.

I am leaning towards the Go at the moment...
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Old 30-01-2023, 00:30   #10
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

We now have a Dragon Pactor IV modem which is substantially better (faster, more reliable) than the Pactor III we had for years. We use it for Sailmail, PW forecasts, routing etc and we still pick up weather faxes from Au BOM and NZ Met.
In ports as someone said we use local SIM card in the cell phone.
I'm certainly not interested in internet or phone calls at sea and the HF radio solution is still far cheaper than any satellite system - although I keep looking at it, hoping the costs will come down....it's not so much the hardware, it's the airtime costs that are crippling for anything decent like Inmarsat.
Good luck
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Old 30-01-2023, 09:01   #11
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

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Originally Posted by Albro359 View Post
We now have a Dragon Pactor IV modem which is substantially better (faster, more reliable) than the Pactor III we had for years. We use it for Sailmail, PW forecasts, routing etc and we still pick up weather faxes from Au BOM and NZ Met.
In ports as someone said we use local SIM card in the cell phone.
I'm certainly not interested in internet or phone calls at sea and the HF radio solution is still far cheaper than any satellite system - although I keep looking at it, hoping the costs will come down....it's not so much the hardware, it's the airtime costs that are crippling for anything decent like Inmarsat.
Good luck
HF isn't really cheaper. It is if you already have it, or at least some of it. I actually worked out the math, assuming a professional install (correctly installing an HF system is beyond what most sailors can do) and new equipment. And, because the Iridium service can be stopped and started, only paying for service during the cruising season when you will be offshore.

Buying a new Iridium Go! an paying the monthly subscription was cheaper for about 20 years. BY that time, neither the Go! or HF will be used on boats anymore.
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Old 30-01-2023, 09:19   #12
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigAl.NZ View Post
Thats a great reply - thank you.

I am at a cross roads and as I see it have two options:

Iridium Extreme (which I can borrow free)
Don't need a working cellphone
Free
Would get Sailmail Subscription so that Extreme can check mail
Will get GRIBs via PredictWind offshore app on PC (probably cant transfer them to plotter (Raymarine Axiom)?)

IridiumGo
Need to buy one
Don't need a mail client as it comes with one (but would still probably get SailMail)
Will work with Predict WindOffshore app natively on our plotter (and PC)
Much easier to Text on SmartPhone

It appears both do voice - although the Go! needs a smart phone to do this.

I am leaning towards the Go at the moment...
Is this just for your trip to Fiji? For just that one trip, 7-10 days, I would not buy an Iridium Go! if I could borrow a phone. I would not subscribe to Predictwind either, but download gribs from saildocs (free, but more difficult and not as many features as Predictwind)

If planning to continue on, I would probably still consider the above for the learning experience, and buy an Iridium Go! later.
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Old 30-01-2023, 23:36   #13
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigAl.NZ View Post
Go! plans? I didn't realize that the sim could be locked to only with with a Go?

I understood that a plan which is connected to a sim IMEI would work in any iridium device.
There are specific Go! plans that provide certain airtime benefits that you can't get on any device but a Go! Those SIMs and service will work in other devices but you won't get the special Go! benefits unless two things are true..

1.) The IMEI of the device indicates it is a Go!
2.) The Iridium Internet dial number used is the Go! special number (which is different from the normal handset dial number.

If you use the normal dial number with a Go! OR use the Go! number with a non-Go! device, the Go! plan features don't apply.

The main Go! specific benefit is that Go! data minutes are 1.) billed at half the rate vs non-Go! data minutes and voice minutes, and 2.) there is an unlimited data minutes plan for the Go

Example of how a Go! plan changes based on device.

The standard Go150+ (aka Go! Unlimited) plan that most cruisers use provides 150 minutes of outgoing voice calling per month, plus unlimited SMS and unlimited data minutes. If you put a SIM with that plan into a handset like a 9555 or 9575, you can use the 150 included minutes but data calls will just come out of that same 150 minute bucket and you won't get the unlimited data minutes.

There are no "unlimited" minute plans for handsets and other non-Go! devices.
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Old 30-01-2023, 23:55   #14
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Re: SailMail Mail Client vs Xgate

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigAl.NZ View Post
We are looking to do a 10 day passage in the S.Pacific from NZ to Fiji and need email for gribs etc. I am weighing up the options in terms of mail clients (no starlink available).

Our hardware is Iridium Extreme and PactorIII.

SailMail : Can use with both PactorIII and iridium Extreme
XGate: Can use with Iridium - not sure about PactorIII?

XGate certainly talks a good game about being optimised for email (compression), and blocking big files etc. Could not find any information on how much if any SailMail also compresses data?

Does anyone have any real world comparison of the two? With costs starting to mount (Sailmail $200 or so USD) and the various bits for the Iridium I am tempted just to go with one or the other (rather than having both, with one as a backup).

Finally has anyone bothered with a RedPort? Did it make any difference on top of the Xgate compression?
1.) Redport is the company that made the Optimizer AND Xgate. You should use an Optimizer or something like it if you are using a handheld phone, an Iridium Pilot or Certus, Inmarsat Fleet, etc. The Redport Optimizer is basically a wifi router/firewall that knows how to control a satellite devices connection status. It works with Xgate but each does a different thing, ie: they complement each other.

Xgate provides the Email service, email client software, email address, etc. It also has bigmail management, and performs the compression, checkpoint restart, and other advanced features useful for transferring data over slow, unreliable connections.

Redport Optimizer blocks ALL data connection through it that isn't specifically allowed, and out of the box it only allows specific satellite optimized services, namely Sailmail, Xgate, and Predictwind. (you can configure it to allow other services). By blocking normal connections and only allowing special services like Xgate you end up ONLY using satellite data when you intend to, you get the best performance you can since there aren't a bunch of things trying to use a slow connection at the same time, and you use less data for your email and weather because the allowed apps/software do compression. The router itself does not do any compression with one exception. The Optimizer has an Xgate client built in, so you can configure it to make a periodic connection, download new mail, and send any new mail you wrote, and those transfers will be compressed. Then you can sync email to your computer/tablet directly from the Optimizer over WiFi or access a built in webmail. Most users don't use the built in Xgate client, and just use the Xgate software on their PC/Mac/iOS/Android device.

Mailasail box, OCENS Sidekick, etc are all more or less the same as Optimizer. The email software and service does the compression, the box restricts what connections can go through the satellite connection.

2.) Sailmail works over Pactor, Iridium Go, Iridium Handheld, and other Internet connections.

3.) Xgate works on ANY internet connection EXCEPT Pactor. So its good for satellite, wifi, cellular, home broadband, slow coffee shop networks, etc.

4.) Xgate is $20/month or $240/year, Sailmail is $275/year.

5.) Sailmail only allows specific types of file attachments, namely weather related. Xgate will allow any attachment of practically any size and will do compression (when possible) and checkpoint restart. So if you download 10% of the message during a connection and the connection fails, the next time you connect it resumes from 10% and doesn't have to start over. This means you WILL eventually get the file even when the connection is unstable and slow, and you won't use excessively more billable minutes or data to get it.

6.) Iridium GO is slower than PACTOR4, but Inmarsat Fleet, Iridium Pilot/Certus, etc are significantly faster.

7.) Many services like Inmarsat and Iridium Certus have high $/MB rates, but the reality is you don't use much data on Sailmail/Pactor, Iridium Go, or Iridium handhelds. At those speeds you transfer (at best) about 1MB per hour. A "unlimited" Go! data minutes plan is $155/mo. While a 10MB Certus or Fleet one plan is $130/mo or less. It would take 10-20 hours of actual connection time on a Go! to consume 10MB. So if you put an Optimizer in front of a Fleet One, Pilot, Certus 100, or Certus 200 device, or a KVH V30 for that matter, used the same apps like Xgate and Predictwind as a Go!, you'd download data 100X faster and spend less money each month. Plus have the ability to download massively larger files IF you needed them, and have higher quality voice calling, etc.

99% of Go! users consume 5MB or less per month on their highest usage months. (There are of course always exceptions to every rule).

8.) If you have an Iridium Extreme, you can add an Optimizer to that with USB cable and use Xgate and PredictWind with that. Or with Sailmail. Before the Go! was popular, most cruisers using Iridium used a handheld phone, a prepaid SIM card, an Optimizer, and Xgate, or a similar setup from another email provider like OCENS, Mailasail, etc.

That said, if you have PACTOR4 and it works for you, you don't *need* something else.
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