No matter where you are sailing, whether it be 100 feet from shore, or miles out into the Pacific, it is nice to stay connected and know that loved ones and emergency responders are only a few taps away on your smartphone… if you have service.
We’ve recommended the best long-range WiFi antenna (http://theteakrail.com/the-best-long-range-onboard-wifi/), but what if there are no signals on shore to connect to? If you really want to stay connected while underway, newly developed SatFi internet is your best option.
SatFi devices use a router similar to your at-home WiFi system, but they come with an antenna that reaches to satellites to gain a connection. There are a few different products that can connect you via satellite, but the Globalstar SatFi has caught our eye for a multitude of reasons.
This SatFi router and antenna combo is ideal for staying connected on your vessel. From the satellite connection, up to eight devices can connect to the internet simultaneously via application for iOS, Android, Mac OS and Windows.
The connection, at 9.6 kbps, isn’t quite fast enough to stream movies or videos, but updating your Facebook and Twitter, sending emails, and satellite calls all go through without a hitch with the Globalstar SatFi. This may seem slow when compared to your at-home WiFi, but comparable SatFi products only get up to 2-3 kbps.
This technology is more reliable than other means of getting WiFi on board because it only needs one thing to connect: an open sky. Mat Honan from Wired.com reviewed the Globalstar system and said, “Once I had it properly set up… and had a clear shot at the sky, there was never an instance where I absolutely couldn’t connect.”
With a standard external antenna and 14-foot cable, it is easy to mount the router below deck and the antenna above deck to keep spray and other unwanted weather away from the router.
Another two features we really liked from Globalstar are the mobile applications that connect your device to the router. Two separate apps—one for voice and one for data—are simple and easy to use. The voice application syncs your contacts onto the interface so you don’t have to flip back and forth trying to remember the number you are trying to dial.
The data application has some nice perks as well. You can attach photos to your text messages and emails. We found they shrunk down the resolution a good amount in order to get them out, but a low-res picture is still worth 1,000 words nonetheless. Updating your Facebook status through the data app is just as easy as using the standard Facebook application, and the same goes for Twitter.
The Globalstar SatFi comes with a few different voice plans, while they charge data at $1 per minute. The voice plans range from 40 minutes for $40, to unlimited calling for $150 per month.
Another thing that we were pleasantly surprised with was the call quality. We didn’t notice any call lag or dropped calls at all while we tried the Globalstar.
Later in his review, Wired.com’s Mat Honan says, “…overall this is a really impressive product. It connects you with the rest of the world, where you previously could not. It’s a remarkable feat.”
If you want to both sail and stay connected, SatFi is a great option to keep your network updated. When your iPhone is out of service, Globalstar is there to help bridge the gap between technology and the middle of nowhere. The SATFI is available from Amazon via this link.