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    XM-Satellite Radio - Review by J Bingham

    Like the Audiovox, I had to spring for a car kit in order to use the SKYFi2 in my truck. Also like the Audiovox, installation was quick and painless.

    Although this article is not a hardware review, I immediately noticed that the black on white display of the SKYFi2 was not as easily viewable as the red on black display of the Audiovox. Just something to keep in mind when you go shopping for a receiver.

     
     
     

    he XM radio functions pretty much like the Sirius radio. Reading the manual is not required unless you plan to use the extra features. I was easily flipping stations, and setting presets within 5 minutes of hanging up the phone after starting my subscription.

    One big difference that I noticed within days of testing the radio/service was the fact that this radio would actually receive a signal while my truck was in the garage. In addition, it didn't cut out as I drove down my long tree lined lane or under overpasses. Bonus.

    With 68 commercial free music channels, XM has a few more than Sirius, but the same basic collection of Pop, Country, R&B, Jazz, etc. The only thing about XM that is a little different is the naming scheme for their channels. Some of them have wacky names like Lucy, Ethel, and Fred. Not sure what happend to Ricky. I immediately noticed that the sound quality for XM was somewhat better than Sirius. I also found that I preferred the music that XM tends to play on their channels over the content that Sirius plays. XM claims to have a deeper play list which I believe to be true. Due to XM, I have discovered quite a few artists / bands that I had never heard of before. As a result, I have purchased several CDs based on these discoveries.

    I should also mention that while I would sometimes notice a bit of talking by DJ's on Sirius, I've never heard anything other than a short station ID / promos on XM. XM seems more 'quiet' than Sirius in that regard.

    Besides music channels, there are also 33 channels of news, sports, talk & entertainment, as well as 21 dedicated channels of XM traffic & weather for large cities. Sports fans will be happy to hear that XM will start airing MLB broadcasts in this year. Wheeeeee.... not ;o) Race fans can listen to NASCAR races too.

    Want to listen to XM via your computer as it streams over the internet? Sure, no problem... But unlike Sirius, this is not a free service. XM subscribers have to pay an additional $3.99. Yeah, I know... It sucks.

    To compare XM to Sirius is a bit like comparing Macs to PCs, or Coke to Pepsi. It's a personal preference kind of thing. If you are interested in becoming a subscriber to a satellite radio service, I don't think that you can really go wrong picking either one. They both have a great selection of content and channels that will keep you entertained forever. I would have been perfectly happy with Sirius had I not tried XM and found that I liked it better as far as their music selection is concerned. Personally, I'm going to remain a subscriber to XM radio as I never returned the Delphi XM SKYFi2 to Circuit City.

    In my opinion the choice between the two comes down to only a couple of different things. If you are a football or hockey fan, go with Sirius. If you are a baseball fan go with XM. If you are a Howard Stern fan, go with Sirius. If you are just a music lover, then I suggest that you try the free internet streaming trial for both services and make your choice based on which one plays more of the types of music that you enjoy most. Regardless as to which service you choose, I guarantee that you'll never go back to FM radio again!

     
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