This paper describes the implementation and performance analysis of the first fully operational beam-space multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antenna for the spatial multiplexing of two QPSK streams. The antenna is composed of a planar three-port radiator with two varactor diodes terminating the passive ports. Pattern reconfiguration is used to encode the MIMO information onto orthogonal virtual basis patterns in the far field. A measurement campaign was conducted to compare the performance of the beam-space MIMO system with a conventional 2 x 2 MIMO system under realistic propagation conditions. Propagation measurements were conducted for both systems and the mutual information and symbol error rates were estimated from Monte-Carlo simulations over the measured channel matrices. The results show the beam-space MIMO system and the conventional MIMO system exhibit similar finite-constellation capacity and error performance in nonline-of-sight scenarios when there is sufficient scattering in the channel. In comparison, in line-of-sight channels, the capacity performance is observed to depend on the relative polarization of the receiving antennas.