Best onboard sat comms-TV, internet, data & phone
10/18/2021

Walk the docks at almost any busy marina and you’ll see satellite domes atop boats of varying sizes and types. Some pull in live TV programming far from shore while others provide links, by way of VSAT technology, to the internet, data and worldwide phone service. VSAT is short for Very Small Aperture Terminals and, like satellite TV antennas, deliver service by locking on to specific satellites despite sea conditions. Satellite communications equipment has evolved to the point that boats as small as 25 feet or so can be equipped with the latest technology. Below are some of the best systems on the market.

The lineup is part of an exercise Marine Electronics Journal does every year as part of our Buyers’ Guide. It works like this: We ask the top manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category (17 in all) that they consider to be their Best & Brightest—not necessarily the most technically advanced or newest but rather the one they rate highest in the product line for one reason or another. Could be the functions and features it offers, or maybe it breaks new ground in maximizing effectiveness or utility, or maybe it’s the most popular as measured by sales to boaters. Last week we rolled out part 2 of the best VHFs, both fixed mount and handheld.

Satellite TV

KVH TracVision TV3

With its single-cable design, compact 37-cm (14.5 inch) antenna, and device-friendly user interface, the NMEA award-winning TracVision TV3 satellite TV system is a snap to install, set up, and use. In no time, boaters can enjoy favorite television programming while on the water. Plus, the DVB-S2-compatible TracVision TV3 is the ideal solution for single- or multiple-receiver installations. Features include: compatibility with high-powered Ku-band satellite TV services around the globe for favorite satellite TV entertainment; high-performance tracking with advanced algorithms for a crystal-clear television picture in heavy seas; single coaxial cable for power, data, and video enabling easy installations and retrofits.

Intellian s6HD

Get DirecTV high-definition channels on your boat in all sea conditions. The s6HD incorporates Intellian’s proprietary iQ² technology, which Intellian says guarantees boaters the fastest signal acquisition and most rock-solid reception. The s6HD is lightweight, has a wide elevation angle (5°-90°) and boasts a next-generation alignment control system that delivers seamless, uninterrupted satellite reception for boaters travelling throughout US waters. With its Single Wire Multi-switch (SWM), the Intellian s6HD enables up to 16 receivers to view all DirecTV HD channels, with the possibility to upgrade to 32 SWM receivers. Features include: fully automated system, enhanced antenna for dual bands, quick & quiet technology, Wi-Fi-enabled antenna control unit, built-in GPS and NMEA 0183 interface, lightest HD antenna available at less than 49 pounds and three-year global warranty.

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