KVH & Iridium, newer & smaller!


Yup, at not much bigger than a Halloween goody bucket, the new TracVision M1 means upstart Intellian’s “world’s smallest in-motion marine satellite TV antenna” claim didn’t go unchallenged for very long. As to which one really is the smallest, that seems to depend on how you evaluate weight versus size. The M1, for instance, is only 7.5 pounds and can purportedly install on a conventional VHF antenna mount. The M1 also comes with KVH’s combo 12v controller/Direct TV receiver, which should make for a compact and easy install, but if you want HD channels, Intellian’s i1 let’s you use a Dish or ExpressVu receiver that can. The same goes for King Control’s new model of the VuQube, the fully stabilized 4000, also introduced at this show. Of course none of these sat TV systems have accumulated much user time, and it’s not easy to stay locked on a satellite with a small dish in a bouncing boat.

Also seen at FLIBS was a dummy of the new Iridium 9555 handset. It’s got a nice solid hand feel plus a much needed USB data port, and should be quite a desirable upgrade from the aging 9505A handset I tried offshore in 2007. I understand that it will cost about $100 more than 9505 when it comes out next month. I’ve got to get back to the big show, but there’s more FLIBS blogging at Mad Mariner and MegaYacht News (and no doubt other sites?).


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

8 Responses

  1. Ron says:

    If the nation is going digital in February 2009, what happens to KVH owners of new and old equipment? My existing Shakespeare antenna is working fine with both analog and digital broadcast signals now. Is my existing, dormant KVH RV antenna a worthless investment now?

  2. The digital transition in February only applies to broadcast TV, not SatTV (or cable to your house.) Digital channels do require a slightly wider amount of bandwidth per channel, so your Shakespeare or other UFO shaped antenna may drop out of coverage a few miles earlier with the new digital channels as you head away from the city that is broadcasting.
    Similarly on these new ultra-small satTV antennas, the DishNetwork HD channels (and the few HD channels remaining on KU DirTV) will freeze up and go away 15 to 30 miles earlier than the SD channels.
    For that reason, we have a built-in HD module in our i1 model, but we don’t advertise it. It’s harder to do a coverage map curve. Intellian only recommends our i1 for the Gulf, Florida and around and up to the Chesapeake. It’s going to be great on Lake Lanier, Lower Mississippi, etc. Real good in Marina Del Rey and the east coast of Catalina. Great in San Diego, Lake Powell, Lake Havasu. You can imagine the pattern being good where the satellites concentrate power on population centers.
    We would all welcome user testimonials about other areas, with specifics on HD and SD channels and the weather conditions.

  3. I would also add that Intellian makes the i1 and the i2 about the same price and the same weight, so people will shop on features and not on price. The little antennas should not be a loss leader to entice and seduce you into being up-sold and biggie-sized, they should be for applications where size and weight is very critical or where cruising range is not a factor.
    Since Intellian does not need expensive rate sensors in small or large antennas, the tracking and signal locking is the same in the mini-sized domes as it is in the largest antennas, by the way. We had a lot of sea-sick engineers when we tested successfully in rough water on both coasts, but we watched HD ESPN with an i1 all the way past Bimini in four-foot chop. 35-foot sport-fishing.

  4. ibsailn says:

    Any demonstrations on the New Irridium OpenPort system. I am curious to hear how it does compared to the Fleet Broadband FB250 system.

  5. Chris_in_Texas says:

    I like the clear dome. Wish I could get one of those small dishes.
    Just think if we can get the radome 2-4Kw units to put on clear dome, we could have our mini openish array’s.

  6. Chris Watson says:

    Hi all. I just wanted to respond to some incorrect information posted above. Before I do, I want to let you know up front that I work for KVH Industries and would be happy to answer any questions or comments about our technology.
    First, digital signals are actually able to carry far more data using the SAME amount of bandwidth required by analog signals, not more bandwidth as noted above. At the same time, broadcasters can fit additional information (programming guides with detailed information about shows, etc.) into the space that’s left over. This means that you can experience more features – high-definition, multiple languages, surround sound, and widescreen format. Satellite TV has been doing this for years and, if you have an over-the-air antenna with a digital-to-analog adapter, it shouldn’t affect your coverage area. For more details on this, you might want to take a look at these resources:
    http://www.kvh.com/pdf/SOS3_AnalogtoDigital_2.08.pdf — part of KVH’s “Scoop on Satellites” consumer education program, which is also accessible at: http://www.kvh.com/scoop
    As for a small dish being simply a tease to seduce you into a larger dish, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to KVH’s TracVision M1, our new 12.5-inch diameter antenna. In fact, the M1 is designed to provide full in-motion reception of DIRECTV’s standard definition programming throughout the ENTIRE continental United States and its coastal waters aboard boats as small at 20 feet in mind. These are boats that rarely would use a larger antenna or a big screen HDTV set. In fact, many of these boats have never had an opportunity to have satellite TV before so the size, weight (only 7.5 lbs), and 12V DIRECTV receiver/controller with single-cable installation are extremely popular among owners of these boats.
    Even better, the TracVision M1 can support multiple receivers and TVs, including your Furuno, Garmin, or RayMarine screens on a center console, without requiring another cable to be run to the antenna. No other system offers that convenience. I invite you to check out http://www.tracvision.com for details about the M1, our coverage areas, and our antenna technology.

  7. Mike J says:

    Ben, I just visited the spectacular SEMA (the automotive aftermarket show) here in Las Vegas and saw the launch of AT&T CruiseCast (sm), an Intelsat-based mobile SatTV service with 22 channels, $22/month and a $1,200 retail phased-array (no moving parts) supposedly marinized-antenna. Can you find out more info for us Panbo fans? Can it work off-shore/coastal/etc? Seems like a potentially powerful competitor to the DBS/KVH crowd…

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Mike. I wrote CruiseCast, which in fact seems to use RaySat hardware. I also understand that Digital Yacht will be introducing a RaySat marine phased array product called DigitalVision at METS this week. It will be for Europe only, at least at first, but uses conventional Sat TV satellite systems and could work here with DirectTV, I’m told.

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