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KVH TV-series family

IC-M506 VHF Marine Transceiver

KVH TracPhone V3-HTS

SiOnyx Aurora

Best small-boat satcom for 2019

Not long ago full-service satellite-driven communications and "piped-in” entertainment at sea were the domain of large and very costly boats. Like many other electronic technologies, satcom antennas and systems have grown smaller and more efficient. Below are several top-drawer choices for smaller vessels that deliver television programming, voice & data and connect you to the Internet no matter where you are. (cruiser tv antenna lede)

The equipment roundup is part of an exercise MEJ does every year in our Buyers’ Guide. It works like this: We ask manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category 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. The Best & Brightest list includes 16 categories of electronics, from autopilots and fishfinders to radar and satellite TV.

Last week we told you about vessel monitors for safety and security systems. Next week we’ll roll out the last category of equipment---electronic gateways that facilitate various functions, including allowing you to keep tabs on onboard devices from your smartphone, PC or Mac.


The Intellian FB 150, FB 250 and FB 500 terminals were the first to receive ATC and Extended L-Band (XL) type approval from Inmarsat, establishing them as a very cost-effective way to communicate via phone, Internet, or fax. The Intellian FB 250 sits in the middle of the company’s highly regarded FleetBroadband portfolio, making it suitable for diverse vessels from sailing and motoryachts to coastal workboats and ships. Installing an FB 250 is easy, and high RF performance ensures a strong link to the FleetBroadand network globally. With painless integration to multi-band networks, including Fleet Xpress, a dedicated handset with backlit color LCD for intuitive operation, built-in WiFi, an SOS function and Power over Ethernet, the FB 250 delivers the features needed to stay safe and connected at all times.

KVH’s TracPhone V3-HTS shows that mini truly is mighty. This 37 cm marine system outperforms the leading competing 60-85 cm Ku-band antennas and sets a new standard in marine satellite communications. Ultra-compact, lightweight, and packed with power, the TracPhone V3-HTS makes it easy for onboard guests to stream HD content, connect with the office, get weather information, browse the Internet, check emails, and more. This end-to-end satcom solution provides: data speeds as fast as 5 Mbps/2 Mbps (down/up), more than double the download speed and more than 15 times the upload speed of KVH’s TracPhone V3-IP; affordable metered airtime plans; and worldwide coverage from KVH’s mini-VSAT Broadband HTS network using next-generation high-throughput satellites (HTS).


Weighing less than 22 kg (48 pounds), the s6HD is the lightest, most compact and lowest cost all-in-one system for accessing DirecTV’s HD service when operating in the US. As with all Intellian s-Series marine satellite TV systems, the s6HD enables simultaneous reception from all three DirecTV satellites, providing HD quality TV, DVR compatibility and DirecTV’s program guide for a "just like home” experience. The system incorporates Intellian’s proprietary iQ² Technology, which guarantees fast signal acquisition and rock-solid TV reception in all sea conditions. Up to 32 people on board can watch different channels on multiple receivers at the same time (16 out of the box), while an advanced WiFi-enabled ACU, built in GPS and a dedicated cellphone app enable simple installation and easy operation.

With KVH’s TracVision HD7, there’s no worry about the ongoing changes with DIRECTV satellites and programming; this rugged 60 cm antenna simultaneously tracks Ka- and Ku-band satellites, delivering DIRECTV local and national programming right to the yacht. KVH’s exclusive TriAD technology enables the TracVision HD7 antenna to receive broadcasts from all DIRECTV satellites at once so everyone onboard can watch the channel they want, on whatever TV they want, whenever they want. The TracVision HD7 also features: a unique tri-rod dielectric feed for outstanding reception even when cruising offshore; enhanced tracking algorithms; user-friendly IP-enabled antenna control unit with a smartphone app for easy setup and system control; and optional Tri-Americas LNB for seamless switching between services when traveling throughout the Americas.



In a world-first, the v85NX can simply be converted from Ku- to Ka-band compatibility for flexible operation on diverse satellite services. The reflector and radome have already been frequency-tuned for both satellite bands, which ensures maximum performance. The v85NX is also prepared to link to future low-latency non-geostationary satellite constellations. Intellian’s efficient RF design delivers top performance compared to other 80 cm class systems, enabling higher data rates and global operation. The compact 85 cm footprint allows installation on smaller vessels, with the performance to access networks designed for larger systems. It has several different BUC power options for a wider operational range and is the first antenna to feature Intellian’s new, state-of-the-art technology platform ensuring end-users experience uninterrupted, simple-to-manage global connectivity.

Connectivity makes time on the yacht even more enjoyable, and KVH’s newest satellite communications antenna system delivers data speed and coverage for yachts on the move. The three-axis, gyro-stabilized TracPhone V11-HTS 1-meter antenna offers KVH’s fastest data speeds on the No. 1 marine VSAT network—mini-VSAT Broadband. This comprehensive satcom solution includes a high-speed global network that delivers data speeds as fast as 20/3 Mbps (down/up) worldwide. KVH’s multi-layered managed HTS network provides 105 million square miles of KVH’s high-quality Ku-band VSAT coverage, plus C-band for superior reception in extreme weather and expanded global coverage in Northern and Southern latitudes. The exclusive dual-channel configuration offers both a high-speed and an unlimited-use data channel simultaneously through unique hybrid airtime plans.

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