Scott Hanselman

XM Radio gets even cheaper

November 22, '05 Comments [9] Posted in Reviews | Africa
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XmRadioI was checking out the external hard drives, glanced down and noticed an XM Satellite Ratio priced at $14.99. Yes, that's US$14.99. Holy crap. I usually see XM Radios for $99 or so. This one usually goes for $50, but currently has a coupon that gets it to $30. However, for whatever pricing mistake or reason it was $15. I figure soon they'll be free. 

As I figure it, just the cables that came with it are worth $15, so I had to gset it. There's other, coolio receivers, but remember, this was an impulse purchase paid for with allowance.

Let me tell you, XM is great. I activated the service which is $12.95 a month but you can pay for the year and save 8% and there's a sliding scale from there. One month is less than the price of a new CD or 13 songs on iTunes. If I drive to Seattle once a month for three hours each way it's paid for itself in my opinion. If you get another one for your spouse it's only $6.99 extra.

There's 150 channels and the music channels are commercial free. There's the occasional commercial on the talk stations. There's also 3 stations dedicated to stand-up comedy that I'm loving.

The radio also has a nice feature where you can mark a song that's cursrently playing and later if that same song (up to 20 saved songs) is playing on any of the other channels, you'll be notified.

This particular model has a number of ways you can integrate the system with your existing stereo. It's got a built-in FM broadcaster that actually works better than you'd think it would. It can plug in directly if you've got a line-in, it can plug-in with a wired FM modulator, but I chose to use the cassette adapter (see picture above). I think I did a pretty good job of installing it. Note the three cords, antenna, power, and audio all going in-and-out of the receiver and into the tape deck. There's a magnetic external antenna that you put on the roof of the car. I fed it through a number of rubber gaskets and into the driver-side door and under the seat.

If you have a subscription then you automatically get access to the online streams. This is cool because I can listen on the way to work, then keep listening to the same show when I get to my desk.

One thing that sucks is that there's a channel completely dedicated to Frank Sinatra, but they've just dropped Ngoma, the African channel, in order to add a bunch of French Pop to satisfy their contractual obligations to some Canadian deal. Interestingly, Ngoma is still available online. Other than this lack of World music, XM Radio is pretty amazing.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005 4:07:41 AM UTC
Opie And Anthony make the $12.95 worth it and then some. This reminds me that I need to write my obligatory 'get your friends and family on XM' post for the holiday season.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005 1:16:34 PM UTC
Isn't the quality of the sound pretty awful? I remember being underwhelmed when renting a car w/XM a few months ago. Channel selection was great, but the music was noticeably compressed. Sounded worse than MP3s. Hopefully it was just a bad radio or something...
Tuesday, November 22, 2005 4:12:44 PM UTC
The Roady 2 device is great - but after being on my dash for about a year the control buttons are acting kind of flakey.

Not sure if it is the Florida sun, or just a years worth of use (or both)...but I may try and find this same deal to get a replacement radio.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005 4:46:54 PM UTC
Get Sirius. Way better than XM I think. That cracks me up the dude that says "Opie and Anthony" are worth it; if your tastes lean that way, Howard Stern is 10 notches above that.

Sirius 17 "Jam On" makes Sirius worth it to me alone.
Robert
Tuesday, November 22, 2005 11:58:58 PM UTC
My tastes lean neither towards Opie nor Stern. I think they both suck equally. :)

Jeff - I totally can't hear compression in the music, but I will listen harder. It sounds like a CD to me.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005 2:34:25 AM UTC

Why did you think the cassette adapter was the best option?


John Dyer
Wednesday, November 23, 2005 6:30:33 AM UTC
will you install mine?

you going to have a baby anytime?
Jack Hanselman
Wednesday, November 23, 2005 9:24:09 PM UTC
Yes Stern is not your cup of tea, but:

1) IMHO, Sirius has better music channels
2) Sirius has hired more "personalities" (generally I don't care about this)
3) Sirius has NHL, NBA, and NFL vs. XM just MLB
4) Sirius has your world music channel-- here's the description of channel 98:

World Music from all corners of the global village. Travel the world with sounds from Africa, the British Isles, the Caribbean, Central Asia, Central Europe, Brazil and more.

What we play: Cesaria Evora, Gypsy Kings, Issa Bagayogo, Angelique Kidjo, Zap Mama, Afro-Celt Sound System, Miriam Makeba, Bebo & Cigala, Solas, Lo'Jo, Khadja Nin and many more.
Robert
Wednesday, December 07, 2005 10:15:50 AM UTC
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.