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Thread: XM - or Sirius?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    XM - or Sirius?


    Eventually, the government may say "yes" to the much-rumored/much-anticipated merger of satellite radio providers XM and Sirius. But for now, you've pretty much got to choose one or the other.

    So - which to choose?

    Programming content will, of course, loom large in your decision. Some buy Sirius just to get Howard Stern and Bubba The Love Sponge. Others just hate those guys - and buy XM precisely because it hasn't got either. (Or maybe they just prefer the other talk shows on XM - like Air America on channel 167 - if you're a liberal-ish person - or America right on 166 - if you lean toward the conservative.

    So there's little point debating the relative - and subjective - merits of the programming of either. That's easy enough to do - by yourself, based on what you like (and dislike).

    But what about objective stuff?

    There are some definite differences between the two providers - at least, based on my experience. And I get to experience both XM and Sirius quite a bit - in different cars each week and under a pretty wide variety of conditions.

    Here's what I have found. I hope it's helpful to you:


    * Sirius seems to have better satellite coverage -

    I live in a rural (and mountainous) area; and I have discovered that XM cuts out more often - and for longer - than Sirius. For example, when I am on the lee side of the mountain, heading into the valley (or going back home). Or when the tree canopy is extensive. This may not affect you if you are a flat-lander or a city-boy suburban dweller - but it is a real annoyance for me, where I live out in the boondocks of the Blue Ridge in SW Virginia. I suspect it may be a similar deal for people living in the Rockies, too - for the same reasons.

    And it's not a particular car (or type of XM receiver) that's to blame. The same cell phone-like loss of signal happens, without exception, to every XM-equipped vehicle I drive - and always in the same areas. Sometimes, the interruptions in signal last several minutes. If you're listening to an interview or talk-format station, this means you routinely lose large chunks of the conversation.

    This, to me, is worse than the old-timey static of FM or AM radio. It's aggravating enough to make me choose Sirius over XM - for this reason alone.

    Why does it happen?

    And why does it happen only (or more so) to XM? I have no definitive answer; but I suspect it has something to do with the different satellites used by XM. Or maybe they are in different orbits. Some issue having to do with the angle of the transmission, maybe? I dunno.

    What I do know is XM needs to address this problem; it is the Achilles Heel of satellite radio. For all the jibber jabber about commercial-free unfiltered content, if the content isn't coming out of my speakers, ready-steady, anyone paying a monthly fee to hear, well... nothing - blank spots that can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes - is not going to be a happy camper.

    I'm no tech guru, but I wonder how come XM (and Sirius) can't use an internal hard drive and 5 minute delay to fix this issue.The signal goes from the satellite to your audio unit, where it is temporarily stored - then played on a slight time delay. This would - I think - deal with loss of signal issues and give true continuous coverage. Maybe there is some reason (cost?) why it hasn't been done yet.

    But it needs to get done - before they do the merger.

    So - be warned. Especially if you live someplace like where I do that's got significant elevation changes, hilly/mountainous terrain and/or lots of leafy tree coverage.

    You might even take the precautionary step of borrowing/renting a car with either XM or Sirius - not just to check the programming but to see whether the programming cuts out a lot.

    After all, that which you cannot hear is not worth paying for - "unfiltered" or not!

    END

  2. #2
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    Re: XM - or Sirius?

    Here in the DC area, XM reception is better than Sirius - I have both in cars and in my house. XM has stationary satellites (better for a more reliable signal) whereas Sirius has roaming satellites. I can't get a good consistant Sirius signal in my house (great in the morning, bad in the afternoon as the satellite rotates) but I get an exceptional signal with XM in my house all the time. Move back up here to the DC area to get your XM to work right. ;D

    I agree your hard drive idea would work, it would allow a consistent play even as the signal is weak or cutting in and out.




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    Re: XM - or Sirius?

    Just posted this article on the main page with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...1&Itemid=10853

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    Re: XM - or Sirius?

    XM. At the time I bought mine, Sirius hadn't really gotten into the hand-held market. Mine is a hand-held that can be moved around. I can toss the antenna into my suitcase and the handset into my laptop case and take it with me. I have had some problems with the brown-outs in some of the mountain areas, but it's been to the Sierra Nevadas, Rockies, Vermont, etc and done extremely well, especially for not being permanently mounted. I wonder if being able to move the antenna location may help. Most permanent antennas are on the back of the car and I tend to put mine near the center of the roof. That was my only disappointment with my Sonata at the time ... Hyundai hadn't started putting XM into them. I've decided I like the portable version after all.

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    Re: XM - or Sirius?

    ducky,

    That's my experience, I have a first series Delphi SkyFi 2 portable unit in one of my cars for 4 years. When I bought it they recommened I put the mini antenna on the roof, I never did, I put it on the dashboard on a little tiny mat so it does not move. I never lose my XM signal, even in the mountains or heavy tree cover. Taken it on long trips and it never loses its signal.

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: XM - or Sirius?

    Quote Originally Posted by ducky1776
    XM. At the time I bought mine, Sirius hadn't really gotten into the hand-held market. Mine is a hand-held that can be moved around. I can toss the antenna into my suitcase and the handset into my laptop case and take it with me. I have had some problems with the brown-outs in some of the mountain areas, but it's been to the Sierra Nevadas, Rockies, Vermont, etc and done extremely well, especially for not being permanently mounted. I wonder if being able to move the antenna location may help. Most permanent antennas are on the back of the car and I tend to put mine near the center of the roof. That was my only disappointment with my Sonata at the time ... Hyundai hadn't started putting XM into them. I've decided I like the portable version after all.
    I've got a portable Sirius rig; my antenna mounts (magnetic) on the roof... the signal seems to be much stronger than the hard-wired XM units in the press cars I get. They always lose signal (in the same places) going up/down the mountain from our place to the Roanoke valley. It would be a deal breaker for me!

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    Re: XM - or Sirius?

    I can't imagine paying to hear radio. There is something inherently unAmerican about that. I couldn't stand turning on the stupid radio in the Malibu I just tested and knowing that the radio I was listening to was a paid subscription for 3 months then it would be turned off. There is something inherently wrong with buying a car with all that hardware installed and having it turn off on you if you decide not to pay the bill.

    I don't think that the programming on satellite is worth paying for, but that's just my opinion.

    I couldn't stand listening to 24 hours straight of rolling stones music anyway.

    Maybe I'm off base here. What draws people to XM or Sirius, besides Howard Stern?

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: XM - or Sirius?

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry
    I can't imagine paying to hear radio. There is something inherently unAmerican about that. I couldn't stand turning on the stupid radio in the Malibu I just tested and knowing that the radio I was listening to was a paid subscription for 3 months then it would be turned off. There is something inherently wrong with buying a car with all that hardware installed and having it turn off on you if you decide not to pay the bill.

    I don't think that the programming on satellite is worth paying for, but that's just my opinion.

    I couldn't stand listening to 24 hours straight of rolling stones music anyway.

    Maybe I'm off base here. What draws people to XM or Sirius, besides Howard Stern?
    Well, I liked the original concept of commercial-free radio (standard radio is obnoxiously suffused with endless pushy shyster commercial crap I despise; I'd much rather pay a fee for content and get to avoid the endless shystering). However, "ad creep" has become a real problem. Both XM and Sirius now have a lot of "promos" (for their own channels) or plain out and out ads. This enrages me. If I am paying a monthly fee to hear, say, Howard Stern - then I do not want to hear a single god-damned peddler hawking his god-damned product.

    I have Sirius - and only because of Howard, who is a hero of mine.

    But the shyster commercials are making me think about dropping the service....

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