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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Satellite Radio – My Misunderstanding

I had been using a free trial of satellite radio offered over the Internet from XM Radio for a couple weeks leading up to the new year. The intention of course, was to decide whether or not XM Radio was right for me – being certain that I would choose either XM Radio or Sirius.

During the trial period I enjoyed the content and programming that XM Radio had and I decided to move forward and I ended up receiving the basic Delphi Roady XT with Car Kit as a gift. Very quickly, I came to the realization that I did not do enough research on what Satellite radio was.

No, I was not shocked that it was monthly subscription or anything silly like that. What caught me by surprise was all of the pieces that were required to make it work. It was not a simple, self-contained unit that I could charge up and move from car-to-car, into my office or home, and occasionally charge it like my Apple iPod or PSP. (Yes, I know these handheld units are available now, although considerably more expensive) This was my misunderstanding.

It was a basic, attractive unit – but it required at least two major pieces of wiring to make it work. One, you had to have a car or home adapter, and two you would need to have the satellite antenna and its 20 foot cord somewhere in the car. The surprise to me was the lack of portability with the basic unit. The Delphi Roady XT has to be mounted or plugged in somewhere in the car.

While there are a couple of other accessories that are included, (mounting pieces, car tape deck adapter) I believe the best solution for me is to have the unit professionally installed. As you can see in the picture here, my Audi A4’s interior is a jumbled mess until I can get the cables hidden. I will most likely turn to Best Buy this upcoming weekend and their $71.99 installation to put the unit in, use the car’s power (rather than a cigarette lighter), and hide the cables and antenna.

While that is more effort than I initially expected, it is better than the $600-650 that my Audi dealership wants for the factory hardware.

In terms of XM Radio package, I have been relatively impressed thus far. The programming, reception and FM modulator have performed as expected. The only downside is that NBA basketball games are not available on XM Radio – as Sirius has an exclusive contract with them. I did realize that before I went with XM Radio, however!