How to get TV on your boat, the choices expand

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, completed the Great Loop in 2017.

18 Responses

  1. Pat McQueen says:

    Great article Ben. We also see folks using the dish tailgater when in a marina. As long as there is a stable surface it seems to work great. https://www.mydish.com/support/tailgater-features

    I am curious about the trackvision A9 as a less expensive option. Is is marketed to the RV market but not marine. Is that because it needs a more stable surface? The A9 is under $5k and seems to offer most of what the more expensive dishes offer.

  2. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Pat, great point about the Tailgater. In addition to the Tailgater there are self aiming dishes (that find the satellites automatically but don’t track them in motion), tripod mount and single axis stabilized dishes. I suspect the A9 may be a single axis stabilized dish. It’s stablized for movement of the vehicle but not for rolling or pitching as on road vehicles don’t do as much of that. I’ll take a look.

  3. Bob says:

    The biggest challenge to the use of streaming services is data caps. If you are out and about, chances are you are using a wifi hotspot. Good luck finding an affordable plan that supports sufficient data allotments to support streaming.

    I am long over getting excited about the latest greatest “unlimited plan”. Ironically, they are too limited to be viable.

  4. Ben says:

    We have been quite happy with the DirecTV Now service, running on an AT&T unlimited plan. Linksys cellular modem to boat’s AC1900 router (feeding a number of things including a Roku with the DirecTV Now app). Data for TV is supposed to be exempt from the 50GB throttling cap. Bandwidth has been very satisfactory, considering we were on FiOS in our land home.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Ben, but I can’t figure out which AT&T unlimited plan you’re using. Is it an “Unlimited &More Premium” plan where you’ve somehow gotten one line to be a SIM card that works in the Linksys modem?

      https://www.att.com/plans/unlimited-data-plans.html

      But I did find an FAQ that says “Data Free TV” can even apply to some AT&T prepaid cards, and even after the card’s data allotment is used up. Could be great for seasonal cruisers, though again I’m not sure what prepaid cards they’re talking about:

      https://www.directvnow.com/data

      PS for possibly confused readers: AT&T Ben is not the Ben Stein who wrote this entry, nor am I.

      • Ben says:

        Too many Bens!
        To clarify, we have two iPhones and one cellular modem device (correction, it’s actually a Netgear LB1121, not Linksys) that share an AT&T ‘Unlimited Plus Multi-line’ package (per the bill). It appears to match the “Unlimited & More Premium” one mentioned above. At the time we switched from a regular family plan, to the Unlimited plan in order to transition to life aboard, they also had a promotion for adding DirecTVNOW; we have a 65 channel plan that includes 20 hours of cloud DVR, 2 simultaneous streams, and free HBO, all for $25 per month. We use a combination of cellular, and marina wifi to access the content.
        ‘AT&T Ben’ (not Stein or Ellison)

  5. David says:

    Hi Ben, 2 floats away from you. Dish Network has mobile pay by the month accounts with no shut off fee. Easy and fair. Direct TV on the other hand charges a fee to turn your system on and to turn your system off and also has attempted to charge me a $450 equipment recovery every fall even though I own MY KVH Equipment and sat reciever. I have spent over 30 hours on the phone over the years with their rep getting my bill corrected. Back to Dish. I went.

  6. Bob McLeran says:

    We fall into the boating category of “escape from TV” but when we do watch when cruising our Shakespeare 3004 SeaWatch omni-directional antenna works very well.
    https://www.defender.com/product.jsp?name=shakespeare-3004-seawatch-omni-directional-hdtv-antenna&path=-1|344|2028695|2029063&id=3019628

  7. Charlie McVey says:

    We have a KVH marine 1 with direct tv. We traveled the loop including the Bahamas and Canada. We never lost signal. We record what we want to watch on the DVR so we can go and come as we please. I called direct and changed our local channels several times. I told them we were traveling in our rv. I had just a couple of the agents refuse to give us local channels but they always would program the New York channels which are on a wider band satellite. I like KVH and Direct TV

  8. Joseph Pica says:

    Hello Ben, Real novice questions. If ATT is going to kill Direct TV via KVH that seems to say Don’t buy the Direct TV version of a KVA. Satellite Dish. My understanding is these KVA satellite dish were not compatible between dish and Direct TV. are not compatible but need to verify that.
    Also, since the primary providers Direct TV and Dish have migrated to the Ka band does this mean that the legacy KVH Ku band single Satellite dishes are not functional.? Or are Dish and Direct TV they still broadcasting in the Ku bands, just not in HD?

  9. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Joe,

    Generalizing a little because some of the specifics get confusing. The decision by DirecTV to stop broadcasting via satellite will affect all makers of receiving dishes and force a move to IP (internet protocol) delivery of programming from DirecTV. If I were betting I’d wager a fair sum they won’t make the 2020 time-frame and wouldn’t be surprised to see them slip by a lot from that date.

    DirecTV is currently using Ka for HD programming but still broadcasts standard definition on Ku. Dish network currently broadcasts all of their programming on Ku.

    Nearly all the dishes out there are capable of receiving either DirecTV or Dish programming.

    • Colin A says:

      I’m curious how this goes. Most of the people I know still using direct TV at home live in rural areas with limited Broad band. Seems like it would cut out a core of their market (along with the RV and boat guys.)

      • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

        I agree with you that it doesn’t seem like a good way to serve their customer base. I think what at&t is counting on is that it might serve their bottom line better. Their satellite constellation is expensive to maintain. If they can get most people to move to an IP delivered solution and lose the most rural of their subscribers it might still be better for their bottom line. It won’t be better for those customers but I don’t think at&t really cares.

  10. Dan Barthel says:

    If you have good Wifi, a Roku and DirecTv Now is an unbeatable combination. There are small Roku TV’s suitable for marine use.

  11. Alden Cole says:

    There is a way to send home service to a remote location. That’s with the use of a Slingbox. http://www.slingbox.com/. It’s a little clunky, but it works. Broadband is required at both sights. Control is by an ap on a smart phone or other device. It can be streamed to a Roku device. The boxes can be found on eBay, but be aware that some of the older models had manufacturing issues. Capacitor virus, I’m told. So look for re manufactured units. I picked up three units for a hundred bucks including shipping. Those units actually had a tuner built in and can be hooked up to an antenna. Newer models don’t have a RF input.

  12. Adam Kerner says:

    In terms of data usage, is there any rough guideline for time of video per MB (GB)? For instance, if I wanted to stream a movie from a Netflix account, and I’m paying for data by the GB, how can I estimate the data hit to watch, say, a 2 hour movie?

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