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December 06, 2005

READER HANSON TIPTON EMAILS:

I am considering getting satellite radio for Christmas and knowing that you are a bit of a technophile I was wondering if you or your readers could recommend particular receivers or set-ups. I am leaning toward XM as they carry all major league baseball games, and I would want it mainly for the car but I would also want to have a way to play it in the house. I currently only listen to music (on CDs) or radio (talk) in the car. My job has me in the car a lot and usually out in rural areas that donít necessarily get good reception for conventional radio, so I think satellite is something I would enjoy. Do you have satellite radio and if so do you recommend it to others?

Thanks for any advice you can offer. I always enjoy seeing your reviews of products (particularly electronics,) and also the input of your readers. Using Instapunditís search feature I saw that in April someone wrote you about finding Webb Wilder on XM and you mentioned your brotherís band was on there too. Have you taken the satellite radio plunge?

No, I haven't, though I'm planning to. My sister has Sirius and likes it; I was talking to a friend today who has XM and is very happy with it, too. That's part of my problem -- I'm too lazy to make a decision, though I'd probably go with XM for the reasons above.

My sister chose Sirius because it had the more compact receiver at the time, but now it looks as if both outfits have plenty of choices available. Of course, that just makes it harder. If they merged, they might get a lot of extra customers who currently can't make up their minds which to choose . . . .

Anybody got advice for Mr. Tipton? Er, and maybe for me?

UPDATE: Michael Barone emails:

Last year I decided to buy (lease, actually) a BMW. The car came with a radio equipped to pick up Sirius satellite radio; I decided to take advantage of it and subscribe. I find I like it very much. I can get Fox News Channel audio (I listen especially when I'm headed to the Fox News studio for an appearance), and the classical music offerings are good. Also, there are lots and lots of other channels and I listen to a few of those occasionally (like the Washington/ Baltimore traffic channel). Reception is generally good, though there are occasional irritating blackouts and it goes off in underground garages (not in the tunnel under the Capitol, however). Commercial interruptions are much less frequent than on AM or FM radio.

Overall, I am happy with Sirius and will definitely install satellite radio on any future car. It helps that the BMW doesn't require extra equipment (I believe Mercedes cars are set up for XM).

Meanwhile, Hazen Dempster emails:

I'm getting satellite radio for Christmas and I chose XM largely due to the MyFi Portable XM Receiver. It comes with a built-in antenna and a built in FM transmitter. It also comes with the complete home and car accessory kits so you don't have to buy them separately. One cool feature is that It can record up to 5 hours of programming to play back at your convenience. What ultimately closed the sale for me, however, is I was able to find it for $134.99 at Buy.com. Since XM is offering a $50 rebate through year end, that brought the price down to $84.99 (Buy.com also offers free shipping). I figured it would be tough to beat that price and I don't like Howard Stern anyway.

Here is a link to the XM description of the MyFi Receiver: Link
Here is a link to Buy.com description: Link

I'll update this post more, later. Of course, even if you don't get satellite radio, you could be a winner, as Michael Barone also observes:

I note that about a month ago I heard Rush Limbaugh announce that Clear Channel stations that broadcast his program will have one FEWER minute of ads each hour. I take this to be a competitive response to satellite radio. I don't think Clear Channel would give up the revenue except out of fear that people sick of all the commercials will switch to satellite. Competition works.

I love that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bill Mullins notes that Webb Wilder has recently left XM. D'oh! I have to agree with the commenter on Webb's page who writes: "in my opinion XM were idiots to let Webb get away." Indeed.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Turns out Hazen Dempster's deal is also available at Amazon at almost the same price, for those who prefer Amazon to Buy.com. I do, though I suppose it's mostly out of habit.