DirecTV

KVH Solves HDTV Problem For Boaters

New KVH TracVision HD7 Satellite Antenna and Receiver

New KVH TracVision HD7 Satellite Antenna and Receiver

KVH Industries CEO Martin Kits van Heyningen announced today at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show a new marine satellite TV system — the TracVision HD7 — that is intended to greatly simplify watching HDTV aboard boats. KVH says its goal is to bring the same quality and ease of operation to boat owners that they experience at home ashore. With its new TracVision HD7 satellite antenna, the gap is fundamentally closed.

The Problem

KVH says the TracVision HD7 is designed to overcome the challenge raised when DIRECTV moved its HDTV programming to new Ka-band satellites incompatible with existing maritime satellite TV systems.  Adding to the complexity, HDTV programming is broadcast on the 99°W and 103°W Ka-band satellites while the program guide and all non-HD channels are broadcast by DIRECTV’s original 101°W Ku-band satellite.

Brent Bruun, KVH’s VP of sales and business development, illustrated the problem this way:

“Antennas that only view one satellite at a time and rely on the antenna or LNB to switch among the Ka- and Ku-band satellites raise a host of other problems for boaters, including receiver lockups, reboots, or lengthy satellite searches due to expired program guides or receivers looking for the wrong satellite. And do you really want to run the risk of missing the big game because ESPN HD is broadcast on the 99°W satellite and your kids want to watch Animal Planet HD broadcast on 103°W? The TracVision HD7 eliminates all of these issues and allows you all to watch DIRECTV’s programming, whether live or on the DVR, exactly like you do at home.”

The HD7 is also available with KVH’s Tri-Americas LNB, which will simplify access to DIRECTV Latin America service in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America.  The system is also compatible with Bell TV (formerly ExpressVU) service in Canada.

Internal View of New KVH Tracvision HD7 Satellite Antenna

Internal View of New KVH Tracvision HD7 Satellite Antenna

The Solution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KVH’s TracVision HD7 features a number of key features that allow the simplified viewing of HDTV. Here’s a summary of them, as described by KVH (hence the superlatives in the descriptions; I have not personally had the chance to test the new system at sea):

  • KVH’s Tri-Rod Antenna Design (TriAD) technology – this patent pending new design simultaneously receives broadcasts from three separate DIRECTV satellites. These signals are concentrated by the tuned subreflector before reaching the unique tri-rod dielectric feed. Multi-axis dynamic tracking then allows the system to stay locked on even in the roughest seas.
  • IP-enabled Antenna Control Unit (ACU) – KVH’s new Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled antenna control unit, with its Ethernet connection, and built-in WiFi interface, makes system setup as easy as opening a web browser.
  • The TracVision iPhone® application – For the most convenient connection to the TracVision HD7 satellite TV, simply download KVH’s free TracVision iPhone app from Apple’s iTunes App Store for your iPhone or iPod® touch. Then use it to check signal strength, switch to secondary satellites, download and automatically install antenna software updates, and send information directly to KVH technical support. It doesn’t get any easier!
  • Single Wire Multiswitch (SWM) – TracVision HD7 includes a built-in single wire multiswitch that supports up to eight high-definition tuners with just a single cable and allows boat owners to run just a single wire to a dual-tuner DVR, making installation simpler than ever.
  • USB Flash Port – If the boat owner or dealer does not have Internet access or the TracVision iPhone app, updating antenna information is as simple as inserting a USB flash drive loaded with the latest KVH software into the ACU’s USB Flash Port to update the system.
  • New optional Tri-Americas™ Ka/Ku-band LNB – The TracVision HD7 offers an optional configuration that includes KVH’s new Ka/Ku-band Tri-Americas LNB that eliminates the need to change antenna hardware when switching between DIRECTV HD and Galaxy/DIRECTV Latin America as the boat travels from the U.S. to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
  • Easy installation – Installation is simple with only one dome and the same cabling and mounting design as KVH’s pop¬ular TracVision 6/G6 and M7 models so upgrading is a breeze.
  • Rock-solid in-motion tracking – The TracVision HD7 offers the best tracking ever available in a KVH satellite TV product thanks to enhanced tracking algorithms and a stainless steel bearing construction to ensure outstanding performance and uninterrupted entertainment even on sportfishers and tuna towers.

iPhone Application to Control New KVH TracVision HD7 Satellite Antenna

iPhone Application to Control New KVH TracVision HD7 Satellite Antenna

Pricing

 

 

 

KVH says the HD7 will begin shipping in late 2009 with a suggested retail price of $12,999.  Addition of the Tri-Americas LNB will add $1,499 to the price.  Incentives coincident with the Fort Lauderdale boat show include a free HD/DVR Receiver with every HD7 unit, and a cash rebate program offering from $750 to $2,000 on trade-in of older KVH systems.

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Industry News, Technology

Intellian Offers All-Americas LNB For Easy Western Hemisphere Sat TV Reception

New Intellian All Americas LNB for Sat TV

New Intellian All Americas LNB for Sat TV

Intellian this week announced a new, dual-band “All-Americas”tm Low Noise Block (LNB) for satellite TV.  According to the company, a simple press of a button will now allow boaters to switch between DIRECTV, Dish Network or ExpressVU in North America and DIRECTV Latin in Central and South America.

The All-Americas LNB eliminates the hassle of complex system reconfiguration and manually climbing the mast, removing the radome and changing the LNB unit when boating in a different service region. Offering a one-time simple installation for unfettered access to all satellite coverage regions in the Americas, the dual-band All-Americas LNB switches between 11.25 GHz and 10.5 GHz frequencies, for access to DIRECTV North America and DIRECTV Latin America, respectively.

Specifications:

The All-Americas LNB unit is compatible with Intellian’s t-series 3-axis and i-series 2-axis marine stabilized antenna systems. The receiver weighs 0.35-pounds, and has an operating temperature range of -22F (-30C) to 140F (60C) and a relative humidity range of 0 to 95%. Consistent with all Intellian marine TV antenna system, the all-in-one LNB solution, meets the company’s extremely high environmental testing standards. FCC and CE approved, the Intellian All-Americas LNB is protected by a 2-year parts and 1-year labor limited warranty.

Price & Availability:

The Intellian All-Americas LNB has a suggested retail price of US $995.00, and can be purchased from authorized Intellian dealers and distributors throughout the Americas. For more information on the Intellian All-Americas LNB, Intellian and its entire product line, compatible satellite networks, or international pricing and distribution please visit www.intelliantech.com or call (949) 916-4411.

Copyright © 2009 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Technology

Satellite Technology from KVH for Your Passagemaker – Part 1

KVH Satellite Dome on a Trawler

KVH Satellite Dome on a Trawler

You want satellite TV.  Yes, you do; you know it.  And you’d like to have an Internet connection available while offshore; even if you don’t intend to use it very much because it’s expensive.  And the security of a reliable, truly global satellite phone would lend peace of mind not only for you but for family back home.  You’re not alone with these wants.  According to KVH Industries Director of Marketing Chris Watson, “Our customers want to stay connected to the same sorts of things they have at home; the same entertainment, the ability to make calls, have the Internet and Wi-Fi.”  KVH is the biggest manufacturer of marine stabilized antennas, with more than 150,000 delivered.  So, it made sense to talk to them when we wanted to begin exploring satellite capabilities for passagemakers.

It’s Elementary

Says Watson, “Satellite TV is probably the first place” most customers go.  “It’s ubiquitous these days.  The antennas are not that expensive any more.  Everyone wants the news, their favorite sports season,” Watson says.  It used to be that sat TV antennas and domes were so big and heavy and unwieldy that you couldn’t consider them for a boat much under 50 feet.  Today, the antennas have gotten much smaller and less expensive.  “We’re not putting ‘giant igloos’ on boats anymore,” says Watson.  “Our smallest antenna is only 12 inches in diameter, and yet you get coverage throughout all of North America.

That Size Thing

We should probably answer right up front one of the worst questions ever raised:  Does size matter?  Eh, if I said, “only if you get into extreme performance” would that satisfy you?  The best thing about the modern electronics revolution, indeed perhaps the raison d’etre of the revolution itself, is the miniaturization of modern components and systems.  Remember the first sports bar that had satellite TV?  It had one of those NASA-sized antennas out back that took up the entire yard.  Today, the same performance comes from a tiny unit barely a foot wide by one foot high.  The key will satellite reception on your passagemaker is the distance from shore at which you want reception.  Remember that most satellite TV service is “aimed” at land-based subscribers.  The signals can be received offshore but how far offshore does relate to how big of an antenna you have.  Coastal cruisers will be happy with the smallest units as far as reception is concerned, but if you will be several hundred miles offshore, you will need a bigger antenna to compensate for the weaker signal.  KVH and most other satellite TV equipment makers maintain coverage maps on their website showing the approximate coverage areas met by their equipment.  You can see detailed coverage maps on the KVH website here.

How Expensive?

KVH M1 Tracvision Satellite Dome and Receiver with Remote

KVH M1 Tracvision Satellite Dome and Receiver with Remote

That smallest of the small is KVH’s M1 system.  It’s a 13.5 inch unit, using a 12.5 inch antenna, and has a single cable that sends power up and brings the signal down.  It’s easily installed by a handy boat owner and it comes with an integrated 12-volt DirecTV receiver and RF remote control.  If you’re already a DirecTV subscriber, you simply call the company and add your boat as another room in the house.  The M1 has an MSRP of  $2,995, but you can almost always get it for less.  Defender had it listed online recently for $2, 416.99.  KVH has a list of authorized dealers on its website if you want to get an estimate from a local supplier who can also install and service the units.  The M1-C is available in a Canadian version for use with the ExpressVu service. 

High Definition TV

There are some limitations with the M1.  Since DirecTV is moving all its HD service to Ka-band satellites and the M1 will only receive Ku-band signals, you are limited to standard definition programming.  So you want HD programming on that nice flat screen?  Move up to the M3DX, which is 2 inches wider at 15.5 inches and 4 inches taller at 17.5 inches.  It has a base model, the M3ST, which only gets standard definition DirecTV, too.  The M3DX has an MSRP of $4,995, but it too can be found online for quite a significant discount, as low as $4,065.95 in one case.  The M3DX can also be configured to receive European and Mexican satellite TV broadcasts.  Its slightly larger antenna extends North American coverage slightly farther offshore.  As an example, the M3DX might be able to maintain a good signal into the Bahamas, whereas the M1 probably wouldn’t. 

Going Bigger

KVH M9 Tracvision Top-of-the-line Satellite Dome and Control Unit

KVH M9 Tracvision Top-of-the-line Satellite Dome and Control Unit

The farther offshore you go, the bigger antenna you need to maintain reception.  In the KVH product line, you can go all the way up to the M9 series, which has a radome diameter of 35 inches, and a height of 39 inches.  The dome weighs about 65 pounds.  These measurements, while significant, are still greatly reduced from the units of yesteryear.  These units also have integrated GPS receivers as well as their gyro stabilization which helps them obtain a quicker lock-on and faster transition from satellite to satellite.  The MSRP for the top-of-the-line M9 unit is about $15,000.  You’ll want to have it installed by a certified marine electronics tech.  The top three units in the KVH line can be configured with a special triple LNB (essentially a triple receiver head in the antenna) so they can easily switch from North American to Central American and then Latin American satellites.

You can download this brochure (caution: large file) which compares the various KVH Tracvision satellite TV products.

(Part 2 in this series, next week; satellite phone and Internet service)

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Technology