"How about the radio?"
By sommerfeld on Jan 07, 2005
I got the older "SkiFi" module, not the newer SkiFi
2. The radio attaches to a cradle; the cradle connects to
power, antenna, and your car stereo -- I've got the output set up via a
cassette adapter widget into my car stereo. (There's also an FM
The radio UI is relatively straightforward. The one big
knob is for channel selection; it does not have a real volume control
(though youcan adjust the line out level to match your CD or AM/FM levels with a half-buried menu item).
Surprisingly, unlike virtually every other bit of consumer
electronics I've owned over the past 10 years, it doesn't have a clock.
The service is OK, not spectacular. Not quite enough variety
in the Classical department for my taste - just three channels:
classics, vox, and pops. Pops seems to be misnamed as it's more
of a "classical greatest hits" channel (playing symphonic movements and
the like) while the "classical" channel does somewhat less obscure
I also am something of an obsessive news-hound; there's a good
selection of news & talk channels, but some of them (CNN, Fox,
MSNBC) are just the audio of the cable news channels, and rather than
inserting more newsy content during the TV commercial breaks they
insert advertisingfor xm radio.
Different channels are clearly getting different data rates -- the
music channels have high quality, the talk channels less so, and the
traffic/weather channels sound like their microphones are
underwater. My inner geek would like to know what the bit rates
of each channel are but the radio doesn't provide that info.
They warn you to install the antenna externally but so far it's been
working well (full-strength signal) just sitting on the rear shelf area
of my car under the rear window.
As a partial stress test, I drove through part of the underground
section of the Big Dig with the radio on. It kept working far
longer than I expected it to but eventually cut out; either they have
part of, but not all, of the tunnel covered with local
transmitters/repeaters, or they're doing some very impressive FEC games.