ViaSat-1 located more than 20,000 miles above our heads. SurfBeam 2 wasn't designed for us to kick back and surf the web in the middle of nowhere at speeds that we could barely achieve while tethered to a cable connection just a few years ago, but we're doing just that, with ViaSat's roughly $20,000 go-anywhere satellite broadband rig. We first heard about Pro Portable last month at CES, which the company is marketing towards military, emergency management personnel and even broadcasters -- that's right, the sat truck of the future fits inside a hand-carry suitcase, and sends HD video from the world's most remote locations right back to broadcast centers at record speed, nearly eliminating that lag that makes certain CNN reports painful to watch.
Pro Portable really can go anywhere -- disassembled, it fits inside a fairly modest suitcase, but screw it together and you have a full-size dish. There's also a four-port Ethernet router and an optional battery pack, which provides up to four hours of juice. Think of it as Exede broadband for far-off-the-grid types. Sadly, Pro Portable isn't priced low enough to make its way into your on-the-go blogger kit, but it costs a small fraction of the million dollars you can spend on a sat truck, which rents for thousands of dollars a day. It's also far more transportable and discrete, offering consistent 12 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds nearly anywhere in North America. How can SurfBeam 2 hold up during a bandwidth-intensive HD upload? See for yourself just past the break -- our 230MB hands-on video made its way from the ground to space and back to Viddler in just shy of 13 minutes, and our Skype video call looked fantastic, without any noticeable lag.