Not too long ago, listening to the radio while driving created a bit of a conundrum. With one eye on the road and a hand on the radio dial, getting proper reception was a feat (not to mention a safety hazard). Then there was the added annoyance of listening to one commercial after another. XM Satellite Radio has fixed all that.
Launched in November 2001 amid much fanfare, XM Satellite Radio has quickly become the leader in satellite radio programming with more than 110 channels of continuous music (from Christian to rock to jazz), news (from BBC America to CNN), sports (from NASCAR to ESPN) and entertainment (from MTV to Radio Classics).
With its sleek and futuristic design, the Delphi XM Satellite SKYFi unit is aesthetically pleasing and easy to install and operate. Just pop the receiver into its cradle and press power. The monitor lights up and you can either tune to your desired station, such as the enigmatically named Fred (deep classic alternative) or Ethel (alternative hits), by entering its corresponding number or scrolling through the displayed lists. The sound quality is crystal clear.
Like regular radio, XM employs disc jockeys, but DJ interruptions are minimal. And with more than two million song titles in its collection, you aren't likely to hear repetition, although stations such as 20 on 20 play the top 20 hits all day, every day. XM also recently launched traffic and weather reports for the top 21 markets in the United States, with the same broadcast consistency.
XM has partnerships with General Motors and a number of other automakers to expand the reach of its product. About 80 percent of all GM cars being produced have a built-in XM option. Drivers can program up to 12 stations and even change channels or the volume via a remote control built into the steering wheel. Beyond its deal with GM, XM is also available as a standard feature on several Honda and Acura models, and a half dozen other carmakers offer XM as well.
The XM Satellite SKYFi unit does have a few drawbacks. It doesn't work in tunnels, song titles more than 64 characters long can't be fully displayed on screen, and positioning the antenna to get a signal when operating the boom box can be a bit tricky.
The XM Satellite SKYFi receiver costs $100, the boom box an additional $100. The car or home cradle for your car or home stereos, respectively, costs $70 each. XM Roady ($119) allows you to change the color of the monitor and faceplate. The XM monthly service cost is an additional $9.99.