Review: RVDataSAT 840 & Service Plans (Satellite Internet)

rv-datasat-840-insta-sat-mobile-internet-reviewIn July 2015, commercial satellite gear provider Mobil Satellite Technologies announced the RVDataSAT 840 – a new consumer-focused satellite internet terminal, designed specifically for RV roof mounting!

With the once-popular roof-mount MotoSAT system long gone from the market, the RVDataSAT is billed as "the only automatic satellite Internet antenna designed especially for consumers".

If you are craving the easiest possible way to get online from almost anywhere you can get a clear view of the southern sky, this is perhaps the best option on the market.

Mechanical Specifications:

  • Stowed Dimensions: 48” L x 40” W x 12.5” H
  • Mounted Weight: 93 lbs.
  • Mounting Base: 22” W X 48” L
  • Cost: $6,495 (plus installation)
When not in use, the RV DataSAT 840 folds against the RV roof. Here it is fully deployed.

When not in use, the RV DataSAT 840 folds against the RV roof. Here it is fully deployed.

The RV DataSAT 840 is a big dish (0.85 meters across) – and it takes up a substantial chunk of roof real estate.

When deployed it stands 42" high, potentially casting a serious shadow on any nearby solar panels.

It is expensive too when compared to tripod-based manually aimed satellite internet options, or even with  the most expensive cellular or Wi-Fi gear.

But when compared to commercial-grade robotic satellite systems that cost well over $10,000 - the RVDataSAT 840 is actually a bargain.

It may not be cheap, but if you've been dreaming about the glory days of RV satellite internet – at last there is an option.

Service Plans

The RVDataSAT initially launched with an on-demand "Insta-Sat" service that allowed pay-as-you go data to be purchased by the gigabyte without a contract, monthly fee, or long term commitment.

This was perfect for those RVers who might only crave a satellite connection a month or two out of the year when they were boondocking far from cellular, but the plan proved to not be sustainable and has been discontinued for new customers. Current customers will still be able to use Insta-Sat service until December 2018, when they will be required to switch to the newer plans.

Instead, the RVDataSAT now comes with two very different more traditional subscription plan options:

iDirect Access Plans

These plans are described this way:

"The iDirect Access plans are full-time, always on, un-metered service plans. These plans allow unlimited web surfing, email, and other common web applications. But, to maintain network quality for all users, applications like VoIP, video, Skype, Netflix, Hulu, and all of the other services that require a constant non-bursting stream of data to operate are given very low data rates and very low data packet priority within the network."

Here are the current (November 2016) Access Plan speeds and prices:

rvdatasat-idirectplans

These speeds may seem slow, but considering that usage is unlimited they will prove to be an interesting option for some RVers.

RV Entertainment with NightShift Plans

These plans have the same daytime restrictions on streaming applications as the Access plans, but they have some special late night magic specifically for Netflix fans:

RV Entertainment service plans are for RV enthusiasts who regularly use Netflix for their video entertainment. The RV Entertainment plans are full-time, always-on satellite broadband plans that have a fixed monthly cost and include a late-nite "Free Zone", when Netflix movies and TV shows can be downloaded at full network speeds using NightShift. NightShift allows you to select content from Netfliix for download, then NightShift waits until your "Free Zone" period to download the content to your RVDataSat system's router, where it will then be available for your enjoyment at any later time.

If you want to binge watch Netflix over satellite, NightShift is your best option.

If you want to binge watch Netflix over satellite, using NightShift is your best option.

The free zone is between midnight and 6AM eastern time, and during this time the blocks on streaming content are removed.

The key feature of these plans is that they come with a special WiFi router pre-configured with NightShift service that will download and buffer Netflix shows you've marked to watch during the overnight free time, letting you then actually watch them later at your leisure.

The RV Entertainment Plan currently costs $199/mo (with 1 year contract) for 2Mbps down and 256Kbps up unlimited service, or $329/mo for 4Mbps down and 512Kbps up speeds.

You can also add on a $24.95/month VOIP option, allowing you to use your satellite plan for voice calls in the US.

Keep this VOIP option in mind, because traditional Skype and FaceTime calls will likely not work well due to the daytime streaming limits in place.

Testing Status

We do not intend to obtain an RVDataSat 840 to test first hand, due to our own lack of roof space for installation. But we are tracking several people who have purchased this setup, and who have shared with us their first hand experiences.

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The Rest of this Review is:
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Purchasing Options

More details on plans and options can be found here: www.rvdatasat.com

Dealers for the system include:

RV DataSat 840 Ratings
  • Overall Ratings

Quick Take

The only current roof-mounted satellite broadband option for RVers is well worth a look for anyone seeking out the ultimate in go-anywhere convenience.

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