For years, tailgaters have upped the ante when it comes to bringing all the creature comforts of home to the tailgating parking lots. Satellite TV is just one of the modern day conveniences we can’t imagine living without while tailgating.
Unfortunately, setting up the satellite dish on a tripod, finding the correct angle and the azimuth, (what the hell is an Azimuth?) and locking in the strongest signal was such a pain. It took too long and frankly, detracted from you doing what you came to do; tailgate. We are tailgaters, not astronomers. Some tailgaters grew frustrated and would leave the satellite TV at home because it was too much of a hassle and took too long to set up. But, technology kept advancing and in 2009, we discovered the VuQube.
DISH Tailgater and VuQube side-by-side
Thinking the VuQube was the answer to all of our prayers, we raved about it for years and even got one of our own. (We actually purchased a VuQube on our own and it was not sent to us as a sample to review.) We used it religiously while tailgating for years and always thought the small glitches and annoyances were just part of the overall experience.
The only complaints we had were the set-up time would take a little longer than what was advertised depending on our location. Pointing the dish and using the remote to find the strongest signal was time consuming and you would need to be watching the signal bars on your TV to see what was the strongest signal you could get. This sometimes would take 20 minutes because you would get a strong signal and not knowing if it was the strongest, would see if it could go even stronger, and would eventually lose it and have to try and reacquire it. Again, we just thought this was all par for the course if we wanted to have satellite TV at our tailgate, this was just something you dealt with.
DISH Tailgater portable satellite TV antenna
Last year, we heard about the DISH Tailgater and had heard rumors that it was easier to set up and was fully automatic. It looked exactly like the VuQube we had been using for years but we heard it was so much easier to set up.
You mean we no longer had to push buttons up/down and left/right to get the strongest signal? You’re telling me with the DISH Tailgater I just push a few buttons and I can walk away and the strongest TV signal will be found for me? If this is true, then sign me up.
After doing a little research and investigation on the DISH Tailgater, we discovered that it was essentially the same hardware, made my a company called King Controls in Minnesota, but had been improved upon drastically. Since the DISH Tailgater is made by the same company that made the VuQube, that is why it was about the same size and weight. You still powered the Tailgater by the single coax cable and did not require additional power. The main difference was in the set up.
(Disclaimer: We did receive a DISH Tailagater and receiver for free. The fact these samples were provided to us free of charge in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the product fairly and objectively.)
DISH Tailgater on roof of van with Seattle Seahawk fans walking by
We thought no better place to test drive the DISH Tailgater than while out tailgating an NFL game. We chose the San Diego Chargers 2014 home opener vs. the defending Super Bowl champions, Seattle Seahawks to test it out. We did what we normally do in that we parked, set up our tailgate gear and started to tailgate. Of course you will need a power source (we use a generator) and set up the DISH Tailgater. We placed the tailgater on top of the TailgatingIdeas.com van to get a clear view of the southern sky. We ran the coax cable to our DISH Network receiver and connected it to our TV. We turned everything on and the first screen we saw was a test screen asking us what part of the United Stated we were located. We selected Southern California and the DISH Tailgater proceeded to run through three tests.
DISH Tailgater on roof of van at Qualcomm Stadium prior to the San Diego Chargers game
Keep in mind, once we started the test, we did not have to stand in front of the TV and monitor it to make sure the strongest signal was being pulled. We simply walked away, checked on the grill, grabbed another cold beer and went over and greeted the new people who just pulled in next to us. Within this time, the three tests were completed and I came back to a screen informing me that the DISH Tailgater and receiver were acquiring the satellite signal. After that was completed in a total of about 90 seconds, the next screen said it was downloading the program guide. After the program guide successfully downloaded in a matter of about two minutes, up pops our programming. I picked up the remote, selected the pregame show we wanted to watch before the first set of NFL games started and we were off and running.
NFL Football game shown in the parking lot off of the DISH Tailgater
The picture quality was superb and we were able to watch all the programming we wanted from my DISH Network account. Not that we watched anything else other than the early NFL football games while tailgating but it was good to know we could if we had kids that wanted to watch cartoons or something other than football.
Once it was time to pack up and head inside for the game, break down and storage was a breeze. We simply disconnected the DISH Tailgater from the receiver, wound up all of our cords and cables, took the Tailgater off the roof and packed it securely inside the van. It truly was extremely simple and fast to set up and was just as fast and easy to stow away.
After thoroughly testing out the DISH Tailgater, it’s ease of set-up and excellent picture quality, we are going to label the DISH Tailgater “Tailgate Approved”.
The time you will save by not having to search for a satellite signal will be worth the price alone. How much is 20 minutes of your time while out in the tailgating parking lot? To me, my time while tailgating is priceless, so any piece of equipment that enhances that experience that takes little to no time to set up, I am a believer.
We plan on taking the DISH Tailgater to this Sunday’s San Diego Chargers game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars and for the remainder of the season. The DISH Tailgater will be a regular piece of our tailgating gear no matter where we park.
The DISH Tailgater is available through a wide array of retailers including, Camping World, Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Radio Shack, Walmart, among others. For a complete list of retailers where you can find and purchase the DISH Tailgater, visit King Controls website HERE.