If you go on a road trip into the wilds that lie out past suburbia, you'll soon notice that once you get beyond the reach of cable TV, satellite reception is the only game out of town. In some places, satellite dishes have become so pervasive that some locals joke that they should be declared the new state flower. Having all those channels at home is great, but now with DirecTV's new Sat-Go you really can take it with you, whether you're hosting a tailgate party or heading into the wilderness in some really cushy interpretation of camping. I tried out the Sat-Go recently — check out my thoughts bon it by following the link.
THE ESSENTIALS: DIRECTV SAT-GO
WHO WANTS THISEarly adopters who panic at the thought of being stuck anywhere without having several hundred TV channels at their disposal.
WHYLets you watch Animal Planet while looking at the real thing live.
WHAT'S COOLGuaranteed gee-whiz factor as you fold open the system and get it up and running.
WHAT'S LAMENo HD output. Limited battery life.
FINAL MARK: C+OK, so it's the first of a new breed, but surely DirecTV could have come up with something a bit less clunky than this humongous brute with its 1970s Burger King styling.
PRICE: $1,000See DirecTV's website for more details.
Style and portability issues aside, the Sat-Go does work as advertised, with the outer case folding open to form the antenna, while revealing the 17-inch 4:3 LCD screen housed inside. The screen can either be folded out while still in the case or removed completely to sit up to 15 feet away from the case/antenna. You get power from either the 12-volt car-power cord (which goes into that socket on your dash), a regular AC adapter, or the built-in rechargeable battery. Clearly this thing sucks a lot of juice, as battery life was limited to only a bit over an hour in my testing.
Should you choose to provide your own programming, the Sat-Go has both composite- and component-video inputs (up to 1080i) for a DVD player. Audio is provided by a pair of 3-watt speakers flanking the screen, or you can plug some headphones to the stereo minijack for private listening. While you can connect the Sat-Go to an external display, the only video output is a composite jack, putting limits on the potential picture quality — bummer! For indoor use, any standard DirecTV outdoor dish can be connected to the Sat-Go.
For anyone who needs to be the first on the block with the latest toys, the Sat-Go takes satellite TV to places it's never been before, and helps you to redefine the words camping and tailgating. Just don't plan on an extended hike in with a Sat-Go in tow. While I'm sure that a few generations down the road we'll be chuckling at its bulk, for now, the $1,000 Sat-Go is the only game in town.