I have to hand it to Dave Zatz. He reviewed the Altec Lansing XM 3120 speaker dock the other day and clued us in to two things:
- The XM Roady XT receiver can be had for under $49 at Wal-Mart
- The Belkin F5X007 is "butt-ugly"
I had an old Roady2 receiver when I read his review, so I ran to Wal-Mart and snagged both the XT as well as the "butt-ugly" boombox. I actually think it’s rather iPoddish, but I can see what Dave means. However, I was looking for XM portability that I could take outside on the deck and the Belkin unit is weatherized while the Altec Lansing isn’t.
Wal-Mart carries the F5X007 for just around $99 and the unit comes with an external antenna, a small remote control, and a power adapter. You can insert either the Roady XT or an Audiovox Xpress receiver, which provides a little flexibility. After activation of the Roady XT, I dropped it in the dock like a cassette and closed the hatch. The unit immediately powered on and all of a sudden I had XM in my office, which I wasn’t expecting since I hadn’t connected the external antenna.
Turns out I didn’t need to. See that little white nub on the front, top right? That’s actually a built-in antenna! You only need to attach the external antenna if the unit won’t be near a Southern-facing window. My office just happens to be on the South side of the house and I’ve used the unit for two days with the internal antenna.
If you do need to use the antenna, you can see that it just connects in the back. The antenna lead gives you about 20-feet to play with, which is more than enough for most folks. I may leave the antenna near a Southern window in the downstairs of the house and move the boombox downstairs as needed; again, more portability.
Another great feature is the included remote complete with battery. You can perform the most used functions with the remote: power, volume, mute, full menu navigation, search, jump and of course tuning. The remote is almost identical in size to an iPod nano, so it’s small, but still very usable. I like the design thought put into the unit as well. In the battery housing (which holds 8 C-cell batteries), there’s a little compartment for the remote. You don’t need to use the remote if you don’t want to: aside from a covered headphone jack on the front of the unit, there are rubberized volume buttons; plus you can always open the receiver cover and access the buttons there.
All in all, I’m very pleased with the "butt-ugly" Belkin. ;) It gives me more value for my XM subscription because I’m not tied to my car when I want to listen to commercial-free music, plus I don’t feel as though I’ve given up any features in lieu of the portability. Thanks for the great price tip Dave! If I hadn’t read that review, you wouldn’t be reading this one!