I 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.