Gone are the days when XM and Sirius each offered only one model, something roughly the size of an iron lung. Okay, okay - I totally made that last part up. But the number of satellite radio products has grown significantly, with more than 30 receivers to choose from. There are a lot of ways to listen to Sirius and XM at home, in your car, and on the go. Here's a selection of recently released and announced-for-2006 hardware that really touched our dials.
Pioneer Inno & Samsung Helix
The groundbreaking Inno and Helix XM portables (see "Digital Bling," page 30) are essentially the same unit. Roughly the weight and size of a cellphone, they not only let you play live XM on the run and record programming onto a gigabyte (GB) of flash memory, but they also let you download MP3s and store them in playlists. And if you hear a song on XM that's a keeper, you can tag it, connect the radio to your PC, and buy the tune from Napster for 99¢. Bonus: optional Belkin headphones ($49) have built-in antennas that extend reception. Double bonus: a cool color screen.
$400 each, xmradio.com
Samsung neXus 50 & neXus 25 XMp3 players
First, kudos to XM for that clever "XMp3" moniker (S&V's editors are just a little jealous). As for the players themselves, they're scaled-down versions of the Helix. The differences: you can't get the XM signal unless the player's docked at home or in the car, the neXus 50 has a gigabyte of memory while the neXus 25 has half a gig, and the screen is monochrome, not color.
For when you just can't raise your blood pressure fast enough, this portable plug-and-play receiver comes with presets for 30 of XM's sports channels to shoot you right over to Major League Baseball, hockey, NASCAR, and more. (Don't worry; you'll still get the rest of XM's 162 channels.) An included accessory lets you also wirelessly transmit to an FM radio - because the car's really the perfect place to scream profanities.
etón E1XM AM/FM/XM/shortwave radio
For anyone who's never met a radio format he didn't like (except, apparently, Sirius), here's a first - an AM, FM, XM, and shortwave receiver. And if all this band variety isn't enough, you also get a large, 53/4-inch-square digital display and 1,700 station presets - count 'em. We dare you.
Sirius S50 receiver
This is the iPod of the starry-eyed doggie set. Super-sleek black with a bold, come-hither color display, it flew off the shelves the month before Howard's debut. No roaming allowed, though: to receive a signal, the portable must be docked, antenna attached. But once there, you can use its 1 GB of memory to place- and time-shift your content, storing up to 50 hours of programming. Besides its pause, rewind, and fast-forward capabilities, the S50 can provide a stock or sports-score ticker.
JVC Replay KT-SR3000 receiver
Like the S50, JVC's Replay will let you listen to live Sirius broadcasts on the go. But when docked, this PDA-style plug-and-play gives you a 44-minute memory buffer so you can pause, back up, and fast-forward, turning live radio into "recorded live."
Sirius Sportster boombox
In the world of radio hardware, who knew "sportster" and "boombox" were compatible genres? Whatever - you can now take your sports, hip-hop, or Little Steven's Underground Garage everywhere you go.
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