Updated: Aug 10
Will Starlink be like Apple and hook customers into getting the latest versions if they want the better system? Starlink has been in business for a short time but they have made quite a splash around the world with their satellite internet system. They began with a round dish (Gen 1) that was engineered by the team at SpaceX (not without its quirks) it has been overall quite spectacular. Many thousands of people around the globe have the 1st Gen Dishy which in all respects has been a great first version.
The new version 2nd Gen Dishy was brought out for many reasons, reduced cost and weight for easier installation and shipping, plus a claimed slightly stronger router (although we would've preferred a WIFI 6 AX system). If the new system holds out as well as the first, or maybe even better, then they are heading in the right direction. Because this industry is so new there is guaranteed to be lots of equipment updates over the years (what I-phone are we on now ?14-15... I can't even remember).
With the 2nd Generation Dishy (Version 2) now on the scene, not everyone who orders Starlink is getting the new version (version 1 systems are still in stock) and from what we have heard so far that may not be a bad thing in a lot of respects. This is not to say that the designers and engineers have gone as cheap as possible with this new version but they have certainly tried to make it more profitable for the company while still providing a good product to the customer. From the beginning Starlink has been losing money on the initial sale of the equipment in comparison to the production costs, so it was only natural that they try and close that gap and grow the over all profitability (smart business move). Some of the changes they have made on this new Dishy in comparison to the 1st Gen have been:
The biggest notable change they have made with the 2nd gen has been in the Dishy shape, and over all dimensions, this is where the cost cutting has come in to play. By reducing the amount of material and changing the shape, the production costs went from approximately $3000/dish down to a $1300/dish range, it seems that they are still losing some money on each Dishy sale but they will quickly recoup that overhead on the monthly customer charges.
So what does this mean for the quality of the new Dishy?
We have read some mixed reviews to date. Many who are still waiting on the Starlink system think that if they get the new square version it will be an upgrade from the 1st Gen. Depending on what you are looking for in a system this is a very debatable topic. So lets dig in to some more specs and reviews to try and make the picture a bit more clear.
Weather rating. As we can see in the above chart both Gen 1 and Gen 2 have the exact same rating for the operating temperatures which for the most part has been sufficient for customers (aside from a few cases of over heating). Looking at the specs they are exactly the same as far as the numbers go, but we know and you guys know, that the practical application of any technology can often tell a different story. So what some have run in to with the Gen 2 is some difficulty with the onboard heater and its ability to melt snow and ice with the same gusto as the first generation Dishy (in automatic mode). It has also been said that the material on the new Dishy is different with more of a matte finish than a gloss (Gen 1) (this may be hearsay and has not been 100% confirmed), that may explain the melting issues some users have been seeing.
On the pre heat setting there have been reports of the Dishy cutting out of service fairly often while the heating element is left on, and the internet stabilizes within minutes of the pre heat mode being turned off and this seems to consistently repeat for those that have tested it. Aside from the quirks so far we have also seen some great changes, read on and decide for yourself as we dive a little deeper.
They have improved in a few ways with the New Starlink Router:
We see two changes on the above table that are welcomed and could definitely come in handy depending on the situation. First one being the 3x3, MU-MIMO, essentially this means that the router can handle 3 simultaneous data streams at the same time. So if you had 3 people in your house using the internet at the same time you are not fighting each other for bandwidth. The previous router was a 2x2, MU-MIMO, same concept but instead of 3 users at the same time you could have up to 2 before the router starts to put users in a line up. If you are beyond 2 users at the same time in the house (lets say you are the 5th user) then you will be experiencing a degradation in your performance being at the end of the cue. It is a small change in router capability but an improvement none the less.
Second change on the list is operating temperature. We see a significant change in operating temperature from the 1st Gen, the 2nd Gen can handle a whole 30 Celsius difference in the negative direction and a 20 Celsius jump in to the positives. We could see this coming in handy if your Starlink router has to be located in a shed for example, a building that has power but no heat. It even has an IP54 rating which means the router is water resistant to a degree. They do highlight even though the new router is weather resistant on paper, it is actually configured for indoor use. Our guess is that means you should have the router at the very least in a shelter with walls and a roof and not mounted somewhere outside where it is open and exposed to the elements. Another small but welcome change has been the overall shape, the previous version has a very hard time standing up with any resistance on either side of the base. It is a sleek and good looking router but not nearly as functional as the new version when standing it on a desk or shelf, etc.
Some of the biggest changes seem to have taken place in the router (most of them good) but one change that makes us scratch our heads is the removal of an ethernet port, we understand they are trying to save some money on production but the few cents per router they save is not worth the headache that customers experience when they need to hardwire some of the technology in the home. They do sell an adapter that gives you a single ethernet port and in turn can be used for running a switch and/or hard wire network, maybe your own router or meshing system, or can be used for a single device like an old desktop computer that doesn't have wireless capabilities. This is certainly not the end of the world, but it does cost you some extra money and forces you to wait for the adapter if you didn't order it at the same time as your internet. Starlink is supposedly working on a meshing system that should rectify the need for hard lines ran throughout the home, but of course that means another added cost to the customer. As long as Starlink continues to deliver on internet performance though I'm sure most will put up with the odd changes. Even better if you happen to get one of the 1st Gen Routers we think the pros out way the cons so far (except for the falling over from a light breeze).
This is one area where Starlink heard the customers cries and listened (kind of..). With the 2nd Gen we now have the ability to detach the cable from the dish without having to physically cut it, this is great because the previous version was an attached cable and a set length. This attached cable has worked in most cases as it is fairly long and also has a rather thick shielding on it to protect the innards from anything nature can throw at it. This is all well and good unless you have your Dishy mounted to a roof and the cabling ran through an attic or neatly tacked on the outside of the house and in to the basement, if something goes wrong and the Dishy or cabling needs to be replaced you now have to undo your whole install to send back the equipment (what a pain). So the engineers took it upon themselves make a detachable cable on the 2nd Gen Dishy that can also be replaced with a variety of different pre-made lengths for most customer applications. it sounds like they have fixed the problem right? Not quite.. from our perspective they have fixed one problem and potentially replaced it with another.
The new problem comes in the form of a specialized proprietary connector that only Starlink can replace and can not be utilized in a standard surge suppressor system for grounding your Dishy. On top of the grounding issue it also leaves customers without the ability to run a cat cable extension off of the power supply (brick) because it no longer exists with the 2nd Gen. It seems Starlink has went the way of Apple in that regard and created an extra hurdle/expense that didn't need to be there (IE: Iphone charge cables and ports). Regardless of this change you can purchase up to a 150' cable with your new Dishy (sufficient for majority of locations) and as long as the proprietary connectors themselves are well made customers are sure to be satisfied overall with their Gen 2.
The new mount is now made up of 4 legs rather than the previous tripod style base, it is very similar in the way that it accepts the mast into it for a fairly solid hold on the Dishy. It is also meant to be used on the ground and not built for a roof mount (custom options are out there to utilize the existing base on a roof).
We were hoping to see something a little more versatile with this new Dishy base, but we understand that Starlink is losing money on every sale and they can't appease everyone. So instead they have designed and built a slew of different mounts that can be purchased separately when you want the system mounted at a height. www.starlink.com
The price for the Gen 2 remains the same on the equipment cost $599.00 American ($759 CAD with shipping before tax *Rural Canada Offer $199 Limited Time*) as well as the monthly charges $110.00 American ($140 CAD before tax), we may not have enough information available on the new system to make a fair judgement whether the Dishy is "worth" the same as the Gen 1 but we do hope if this article accomplishes any thing that it will increase your knowledge in the area of Starlink, and it is our pleasure to help in any way we can and hopefully make your overall experience a little bit easier. We thank you for reading please become a member if you are enjoying these articles.