LAS VEGAS – DIRECTV’s slickest product in decades, the Sat-Go, or Satellite-To-Go, portable satellite and TV system—unveiled this week at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show—owes some of its development to Costco, according to creator Rick Rosner and DIRECTV engineer David Kuether.

The system currently is being targeted to vacationers and company representatives wouldn’t discuss prospects for a hardened version of Sat-Go for government and public-safety customers. “DIRECTV does not talk about products that aren’t available,” said Sat-Go Product Manager Steven Schein. But Rosner was less reluctant. “There will be a version in a ruggedized case called Sat-Go Pro,” he said.

The Sat-Go combines a 17-inch LCD monitor and satellite receiver, a flat portable antenna, a set-top receiver, a lithium ion battery, AC and 12-volt DC power inputs and A/V connections in a sturdy and portable briefcase-style package that weighs about 20 pounds. The outside case contains the flat panel antenna with a built-in compass to help orientate it towards a DIRECTV satellite.

Viewable in bright sunlight, the LCD monitor swings up and out from the receiver base for easy viewing and an infrared remote is included for channel surfing. “With the internal battery, you can watch TV for about an hour or so,” Schein said.

Rosner, a television producer/writer and DIRECTV customer, wanted to find an alternate means of getting satellite television during his work and vacation travels. His previous ad hoc method consisted of taking a set-top box and a satellite dish along on trips, then lashing the dish up to an outside fixture with duct tape. “It would take the whole afternoon to set up,” he said.

Rosner teamed with Kuether to develop the first prototypes of Sat-Go. “We went down to Costco and had them pull out nine different [flat screen LCD] TVs,” Rosner said. “They started looking at us funny when we started putting a cardboard square [cut to the size of the flat satellite antenna] on the backs of the TVs.”

Sat-Go can be easily and quickly setup. “We should get four chimps with four receivers,” Rosner said. “In ten minutes, one of them gets a picture.”

Current DIRECTV customers can pre-order a Sat-Go for $999. Once the system starts shipping in May, the cost will jump to $1499.