Blog Post

Sirius XM merger completed: are there better mobile options these days?

Belkin_2I’ve been a happy XM customer for around four years or so. The satellite radio service is great: commercial-free, plenty of stations, it works in my car and in my home. And now that XM has merged with Sirius, it has me reconsidering. Do I really need to pay $13 a month for commercial-free digital music when there are so many other overlapping options? Here’s just a few thoughts and reasons off the top of my head:

  • It’s not too difficult nor expensive to connect an iPod, Zune or other digital audio player to a car stereo. I connect my XM radio via a cassette tape interface today; the same could be used for any other player with a standard headset or line-out jack. In fact, many new car stereos are offering direct connections, Bluetooth and USB inputs.
  • I’m already paying for music I like through the Amazon MP3 store; I opt for that over iTunes for the DRM-free choices and comparable or lower prices. My devices can store bunches of those tunes, so isn’t that enough?
  • I loved my Zune Pass subscription that let me download and listen to various content on my Zune. It was $14.95 a month, but I had total control over what I wanted to pull down and hear. A Zune with Zune Pass music subscription would work just as well for me over the XM deal.
  • Rhapsody offers a similar subscription deal starting at $12.99 a month. Pair that with a compatible  Sansa player or even a Nokia Internet Tablet and you can pipe tunes through your car stereo as well.
  • Pandora is one of my favorite music services and is free. In fact, it’s my everyday, "go-to" music service. It’s not just limited to the computer though. It’s available on select Sprint and AT&T phones (for a price) and is free on the iPhone. In essence, I could connect my iPhone to the car stereo, fire up Pandora for free and have all the commercial-free music I want and like.

There are plenty of other options and for folks that live in their car, satellite radio might be the best thing going. Plus, there’s exclusive content on both XM and Sirius that just might keep customers around. Since my travel is pretty limited, I’m really starting to re-evaluate my music needs and costs. There just seems to be so much redundancy now with digital satellite radio and digital music as a whole. A few years ago, satellite radio offered advantages, but for me, I’m not so sure about that any more.

How about you? Is satellite radio still a "must-have" or do you think that other digital audio solutions now offer comparable or better experiences?

17 Responses to “Sirius XM merger completed: are there better mobile options these days?”

  1. Regular Reader

    I used to have a long commute and found satellite radio to be welcome break from the jibber jabber of local “air time personalities.”
    Now my commute is short and I discovered the value of using my pc to steam satellite radio over my backyard patio and pool. It avoids all the hassle of changing cds, changing playlists on ipod, etc, and simply provides uninterupted music.

  2. bluemonq

    Hey, just wanted to make a small correction: unless you plan on streaming/downloading to a laptop and plugging *that* into your car, you’ll have to pay $14.95 (same as the Zune Pass) for transfers to a Rhapsody-compatible device. It’s actually what I’m using right now.

  3. It is amazing to me that SiriusXM has not yet released an iPhone app that allows you to stream their content over the 3G network. As a 3G iPhone user, i find myself gravitating toward the music services (like Pandora, AOL Radio, etc) that allow easy, workplace streaming [a lot of us are behind stream-hating firewalls]. If Sirius is to remain relevant they must abandon the antiquated medium of protecting their hrdware profit margins and finally allow us to pay for CONTENT!

    Please SiriusXM wake up!

  4. It is amazing to me that SiriusXM has not yet released an iPhone app that allows you to stream their content over the 3G network. As a 3G iPhone user, i find myself gravitating toward the music services (like Pandora, AOL Radio, etc) that allow easy, workplace streaming [a lot of us are behind stream-hating firewalls]. If Sirius is to remain relevant they must abandon the antiquated medium of protecting their hrdware profit margins and finally allow us to pay for CONTENT!

    Please SiriusXM wake up!

  5. orbitalcomp

    I subscribe to both Sirius and Rhapsody, and I wouldn’t give up either one even though they are sometimes redundant. I have a Sonos system at home and at my office that can utilize both services, plus it can also use Pandora.

    For mobile music, I use SiriusWM5 on my WinMo devices, Pandora on the iPhone 3G, and Rhapsody on my ibiza Rhapsody player. I’m of the attitude now that I prefer “renting” the music rather than constantly having to download and transfer to the various devices.

    For people that have Rhapsody, check out the Haier ibiza Rhapsody player…it is hands down the best DAP on the market, giving full WiFi access to my Rhapsody account, letting me download songs on the go. I could really make do with this one service alone, but I still like Sirius.

  6. Oliver

    For my 20 min commute each way NPR will do just fine. Can’t image spending money on yet another gadget that costs a monthly subscription fee when I don’t even have enough time to thoroughly appreciate all the “free” music I have on my hard disk (from ripping my own “now in storage” CD collection).

  7. Ben Smith

    I have my Sirius satellite radio and use it exclusively for NPR Now and NPR Talk news radio. The big convenience is that I do a lot of long distance driving and don’t have to worry about what local NPR station plays what show at what time on what frequency.

  8. I may agree if I ever listened to music on my XM radio. However, I don’t.

    I listen to sports and talk radio. If you’re a Major League Baseball fan, XM is the place to be.

  9. Why rethink it? It’s an incredible value. You should be taking advantage of the streaming offered on your account instead of how limiting your choices are.

  10. Here is a neat trick. Goto Shoutcast.com right click and save the *.pls file. Rename to radio staion you dowloaded. For example Radio.pls OpenItunes drag the *pls file in. Right click to find the URL it will be http://205.188.215.229:8042 This is 1080.fm The New Rock Alternative for example. This is what you are looking for. With this info you can play in most smart phones. Windows Mobile, Iphone, Centro with pocket tunes. I have centro and save my favorite stations. As long as long as you have unlimited internet plan or a wifi device you can stream your favorites stations.I am listening in Panera Bread to this channel right now on my Eee PC 701 with windows media player.

  11. I recently started using Pandora again after the iPhone app was released and forgot how much I love it.

    Mac users will want to check out PandoraBoy — a great app that’s just a browser front-end for Pandora. It’s nice because it keeps it separate from your browser, no accidental switching or closing it when you are closing your browser. :D

    http://code.google.com/p/pandoraboy/

  12. I too have had XM for a number of years. I also have an IPOD and an old MP3 player. My car has a connector for the IPOD and line input for the MP3 player that makes it real easy to use. I have various sevices for purchasing music. I more or less run in cycles. Sometimes I go for awhile playing my prerecorded music, then tire of it and turn on the XM. What I like most about XM is as you mentioned minimal commercials and the variety of targeted music. I love being able to switch from 60’s, to 70’s, to jazz, and so on. I guess what I like most is that you don’t know what is going to play next.

  13. asiriusgeek

    I just had a “box” installed that connects my iPod into my car stereo system. Love it! You’d think living in a somewhat rural area that an FM transmitter would have worked satisfactorily, but not so. I don’t spend enough time in the car to justify the subscription for satellite, but it was definitely worth the cost for the iPod hookup to have a music choice frustration/static and ad-free commute to and from the office.

  14. If I used Satellite Radio only for music, I’d be inclined to agree, but I like having access to more Talk radio options on XM. As I get older, I find I’m a lot less indie rock and a lot more NPR / ESPN.