Intellian D4 #2, the sat tv wars
I finally got the Intellian D4 HD sat TV system I’ve been testing to misbehave. During Saturday’s heavy rains — when I was trying a lot of wet gizmos on Gizmo — the D4 had trouble tracking one of the three DirecTV satellites it tries to switch among as you change channels. Whereas the system has previously worked fine with the boat laying at my float, despite the less-than-optimal antenna location, I’m guessing that the problem was signal interference from the water in the atmosphere. Further proof: It only had trouble with 103 (aka Spaceway 1) which not only uses the harder-to-get KA frequency but also has the most distant geosynchronous orbit (at 103W longitude), and hence sits at the lowest elevation with the most atmosphere between it and Camden, Maine. I still had a lot of channels available, though, and aside from the downpour the D4 has been pretty much flawless…
In fact, though the D4 comes with a PC control and diagnostics program that installed very easily and seems powerful (see below), I’ve only gazed at it so far. The DirecTV receiver did once come back on after an accidental shutdown expecting a different satellite than the D4 was tracking; but when I realized what was going on, I just had select the right satellite on the ACU above (one button push), and the system stayed synchronized thereafter. The TV has also shown warnings about not getting recent Guide downloads, but I haven’t had to do the whole two minute reset that’s purportedly possible if satellite 101 isn’t being tracked enough. And I’ve had the D4 on when Gizmo has been rolling and pitching a fair bit, and it could switch and track any of the three satellites fine.
Which gets us to this question: Just what does KVH mean with its “You’ll never watch TV the same way again” tease? I’ll be in Fort Lauderdale for the grand intro of whatever it is on Thursday (and plan to post tweets about the show here). While DirecTV’s change to Ka may have slowed down some marine sat tv system builders, the competition between Intellian and KVH seems fierce. Earlier this year, for instance, KVH came out with its Tri-Americas LNB, which can save a lot of hassle on certain far ranging vessels, but darned if Intellian didn’t just introduce an All-Americas LNB. Seems like a constructive war, doesn’t it?