Virgin America completes rollout of faster Gogo ATG-4 Wi-Fi across fleet

Want fast Wi-Fi speeds at 35,000 feet? Get on a Virgin America flight. The carrier announced that it is the first to offer the faster ATG-4 inflight Wi-Fi service from Gogo across its entire fleet. The new hardware offers speeds of up to 9.8 Mbps, which is three-times than that of Virgin America’s first-generation system.

ATG-4 uses directional antennas and dual modems on each plane to achieve the faster speeds, in addition to enhanced EV-DO technology on Gogo’s air-to-ground (ATG) networks. One reason why Virgin America can achieve a faster rollout (besides having just 44 planes in its fleet currently) is because ATG-4 is backward compatible, and it’s a lower-cost upgrade for the airline since it can utilize the existing hardware already installed.

Virgin America isn’t the only airline to offer Wi-Fi, but it’s the only carrier to offer it (and other tech amenities) consistently across its entirely fleet – it’s the winner of our “most tech savvy airline” award. The company boasts about being the airline of Silicon Valley, but ATG-4 is just a stopgap until even faster Wi-Fi is ready.

Last year, Gogo announced that Virgin America will be the launch partner for Gogo Ground to Orbit (GTO), a hybrid system that blends satellite technology with its ATG infrastructure. While 9.8 Mbps might be fast for ATG, it’s pokey for those of us used to faster speeds on the ground. GTO changes that: It will push speeds of up to 60 Mbps, and Gogo says its GTO setup, which uses both Ku-band satellites and ground technology, is more efficient and requires less fuel burn than strictly satellite systems. However, sources tell Runway Girl that Virgin America may even skip GTO technology entirely and opt for Gogo’s upcoming 2Ku satellite-based technology instead – an even faster system.

While the ATG-4 news is interesting, it’s the future we are looking forward to. Many airlines have already started retrofitting aircraft for faster satellite Wi-Fi, and Virgin Atlantic (Virgin America’s British cousin) announced it will roll out Gogo’s 2Ku technology in 2015. Perhaps finally, we can then stream YouTube and HBO Go videos to our iPads up in the air.

Emerging Tech

Light-swallowing room promises Call of Duty fans the blackest of ops

What's it like to be in a room fully painted with the world's darkest material, Vantablack? The makers of one of the year's top video games teamed up with Vantablack scientists to find out.
Home Theater

Demystify home audio with our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide

Today's A/V receivers are packed with lots of advanced technology and just plain cool features. From understanding watt ratings to Wi-Fi, we explain how to buy one that will last you for years in our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide.

Wings on the bus: ‘Fortnite’ Battle Bus now sends you to your death even faster

A new update for Fortnite: Battle Royale has made the starting Battle Bus significantly faster, meaning you can get killed by a better player even faster than you could up until now.

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Smart Home

August Smart Lock satin nickel model comes bundled with Wi-Fi Connect bridge

The August Smart Lock--one of our favorite smart locks--is now available in a satin nickel finish. August is selling the new model in a $220 bundle with the Wi-Fi bridge needed for remote access and voice command features.

Skydio’s self-flying drone now has an Apple Watch app for flight prep

Skydio's clever R1 autonomous drone now has its own Apple Watch app, making flight preparations simpler than ever. The $2,000 flying machine is now also selling at its first retail outlet — Apple Stores in North America.
Emerging Tech

Scientists created a condom that self-lubricates during sex. You’re welcome

Researchers from Boston University have invented a special coating for condoms which make them respond to bodily fluids by becoming more slippery. Here's how their new breakthrough works.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

You’re so vein: Palm-based biometric system could help confirm your identity

Move over, Face ID! The next biometric security systems could rely on analyzing the unique vein patterns in your palm print. Here are some of the ways the technology could prove useful.
Emerging Tech

For only $4,950, you can get jetpack lessons from the world’s only instructor

Have you ever dreamed of flying using a jetpack? JetPack Aviation founder -- and the world's only qualified jetpack teacher -- David Mayman is now offering a day of flight instruction.
Emerging Tech

Biologists have found a hormone that could make space farming possible

Researchers have shown how space farming may be possible. By encouraging plants to excrete a certain hormone, they’ve demonstrated that crops can thrive despite challenging conditions, such as low-nutrient soil and microgravity.
Emerging Tech

Keep your holiday gift list high tech and under budget with these gadgets

Modern technology doesn't always come cheap, but there plenty of premium devices that don't carry a premium price. Whether you're looking for a streaming device or a means of capturing photos from above, our list of the best tech under $50…
Emerging Tech

When tech goes wrong: Banksy’s shredder was meant to totally destroy his artwork

Banksy's recent auction stunt was meant to totally destroy one of his most famous pieces of work, but a fault with the shredder has left the buyer with something almost certainly worth far more than the $1 million she bid for it.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.