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I’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?