Monday, November 28, 2005


So I got my Christmas present early from my lovely fiance. Sirius satellite Radio. To be exact, it's the brand new Sirius S50. Here's my little review, after one and a half days of usage:

First of all, it is NOT portable. At least, not like they want you to believe. It is portable like a kick ass Ipod, without the trendy pricetag, in that it will record and play back about 50 hours of music. The satellite feature, however, is not currently portable. I was told it was, and that's the main reason I bought it. So I was mad.

But it turns out that, unless you live in a REALLY metro area, the "portable" xm radio is not portable either. The satellite isn't strong enough, so you need little reflectors built in to the urbana around you. So far about 14 cities have those. Guess what, Bemidji isn't one of them. So I guess I would have been even more upset to get one home and have it not be portable when it could be. And this one automatically records and stores your three favorite stations, so when you DO take it on the go (to use like an MP3 player) you can listen to, again, 50 hours of SIRIUS content. That's pretty close to "portable". Still, I am a little mad.

But then I started playing with it. What an amazing product. The controls seem confusing at first, but you quickly learn how to use them: they work more like a home theater than an mp3 player. The playlist feature is EXACTLY the same as ipod, the battery life is amazing (I have been playing it nonstop since 9 am and it has not even registered low yet). And it is sleek.

I quickly figured out how to hook it up both in the car and at home, so I have it playing through my 1800watt surround right now. The sound quality is excellent. Not scratchy like local radio.

The actual MP3 function is nice. I loaded 50 songs (randomly from my PC) is about 2 minutes. While I was working out today I found how easy the mini controls are to use. Really, it is very searchable, and easy to navigate, and feels secure in the included clip. I was a bit worried of scratching the shiny face or hitting it with a weight (it was spendy) so I think it will usually stay in it's homebase while working out.

On the drive home last night we listened mostly to comedy. That was refreshing, not to have to listen to top40 radio. But when we wanted radio, we had so many choices. We found ourselves singing along to songs we didn't remember we liked, and one button later, recording them. I even saved a very funny clip from a stand up doing a GW Bush impression to share with my boss. Neat.

Since it is pre-release (it will hit all stores in about two weeks) their aren't any accessories for it. However, I was able to pick up a home antenna and adapter for another unit that work just fine. I doubt I will spend the 100 bucks to get the actual dock when it comes out.

Overall, I like the thing. I guess not having the portability is a bit of a turn off, but really the other features more than make up for the jump in price (color screen, mp3 player, "other" portability) Buying an ipod and a Sirius radio separate would have cost a bit more, and essentially that is what I got.

Let's say 8 out of 10, and wait until they make the backpack unit to make it truly portable to see if it gets better. I would recommend this to someone else, just with the warning that the people selling it are promising something SIRIUS does not (yet) offer.

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