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    Sirius Satellite Radio - Review by J Bingham

    I picked Sirius to try first. I was lucky enough to have them send me the Audiovox SIR-PNP3 receiver with the optional car kit. You actually have to buy either a car kit or home kit with this device. It's not useable all by itself as it just comes with a handheld remote control and no antenna. The car kit was pretty simple to install and took me about 30mins to do a temporary setup. After sticking the small magnetic antenna on the top of my truck, I fished the very long wire attached to it under the gasket around my door, under the seat and to the SIR-PNP3.

     
     
     

     

    Powering on the receiver immediately gave me a preview station with very clear audio. I'm all about easy installations, so I was already impressed by this point. Of course before you can begin enjoying the 120+ stations, you have to subscribe to the service. This required a phone call and a few minutes of waiting. 15mins later, I was happily flipping through stations.

    The next morning I was greeted by very heavy rains. I was doubtful how well the radio would work as my satellite internet service (Direcway) tends to poop out during periods of heavy rain or snow. I was pleasantly surprised that the signal was strong and clear during my entire drive to work. The only time that the signal cut out was while I drove down my tree lined drive, driving under overpasses, sitting in the garage, or while getting gas at a canopied service station.

    During my month or so of using the Sirius radio service, I became immediately addicted to the fact that the name of the band and song name are always displayed on the radio's LCD. That feature in and of itself is something that I can no longer live without as far as a radio is concerned. I don't know about you, but in the past with FM radio, I will hear a new song, really like it and then never figure out who sings it. With satellite radio, you'll always know exactly what you are listening to at any given time.

    I believe both Sirius and XM tout the audio quality of their broadcasts as being near CD quality. I wouldn't go that far, but I found that Sirius sounds pretty darn good on my crappy old Delco radio. If you're into music, you have a huge variety of channels to choose from. As of this writing, there are 13 Pop music channels, 17 Rock, 6 Country, 4 Hip-Hop, 5 R&B, 6 Electronic/Dance, 6 Jazz, 3 Classical and 5 Latin / World music channels. These 65 different music channels that are 100% commercial free. Every so often you will hear DJ's talk a little bit, but very rarely.

    If you're into Talk / News radio, you will be happy with 36 channels to choose from. Channels that focus on entertainment news, stand up comedy, gay / lesbian news, woman's issues news, kids news, Discovery channel news and old standbys such as CNN, NPR, Bloomberg, etc. We also must not forget Sirius's big announcement in October 2004 that Howard Stern would join its programming lineup on January 1, 2006. The infamous shock jock will be available exclusively to Sirius subscribers.

    The one content area where Sirius has XM beat is with their sports channels lineup. With 8 dedicated channels, they have the NBA, the NHL, and live play-by-play coverage of every NFL game. I don't give a hooey about this aspect of satellite radio, but I know there are many of you that do.

    If you have Sirius in your car, but not in your house, you can always listen to the broadcasts as they stream over the internet for free. This is also an easy way to check out the service / content before you subscribe. You can get a 3 day trial at the Sirius website.

    One month into my satellite radio experiment, and I was already hooked on Sirius. I reluctantly unhooked the Audiovox and setup the Delphi XM SKYFi2 receiver that I bought at my local Circuit City. Since the XM folks never returned my emails asking for an evaluation unit, I figured I could test out the radio and return it within 30 days.

     
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