SATELLITE TV IN THE SUV

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If DVD screening while careering down the highway sounds cool to
you, then check out the rear-view mirror: Satellite TV is coming up
fast. A Rhode Island company, KVH Industries, put its version on the
road in September, and competitors aren't far behind.

It's made possible by the shrinking - and flattening - of the
once-giant receiving dish. The receiving unit of KVH's Trac Vision A5
is 30 inches in diameter but only 5 inches high and can be mounted on a
roof rack or, in some cases, applied directly to the vehicle roof.
Inside it is an array of 260 antennas whose data is combined and flowed
onto screens in the passenger compartment below. Other components keep
the dish locked onto the satellite, no matter where the vehicle drives
or how many potholes it hits.

If 5 inches is impressive, how does 2 1/2 sound? Robert Warner, vice
president of sales and marketing for Motia, a Connecticut company, says
it has achieved that thinner standard, whose main value is that it will
allow the product to be built into the roofs of SUVs and minivans.
Until automakers can incorporate the technology into their designs,
Motia's business partners are preparing aftermarket versions, which
Wagner expects to be available by Christmas.

Warner floated a price for the device in "the mid-$2,000 range," but
the TracVision A5, which is available in Massachusetts now at Tweeter
and at four independent retailers, goes for $3,495. That includes
neither screens nor DirecTV programming, which generally begins at
about $35 monthly.

If satellite TV is what you want, signs point to its becoming only
more available. But if you crave the newest and hottest auto
technology, you won't have to cool your jets very long for your next
jolt. KVH corporate communications manager Christopher Watson says it
hopes to offer in-motion broadband Internet connectivity within a year.