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Best Features: SiriusXM Satellite Radio SXPL1V1 Onyx Plus at Amazon
"Is a feature-rich, vehicle-ready player."
Best Budget: SiriusXM XEZ1H1 Onyx EZ at Amazon
"A great low-price option that comes with a remote control."
Best Screen Display: SirirusXM Commander Touch at Amazon
"A beautiful color capacitive touchscreen display."
Runner-Up, Best Budget: SiriusXM SSV7V1 Stratus 7 at Amazon
"The app itself is free and offers a truly portable listening experience."
Best App: SiriusXM Smartphone App at siriusxm.com
"The pinnacle of the company’s collection. With six available display colors."
Best Value: Starmate 8 at Amazon
"You can wake up to sports updates or news programs, rather than your regular alarm."
Best for Sports Fans: SiriusXM TTR2 Sound Station at Amazon
The big brother to the Onyx EZ, SiriusXM SXPL1V1 is feature-rich, vehicle-ready player. In a package that’s 3.4-ounces and 4.5" (W) x 2.4"(H) x .7" (D), there are many features to keep even the pickiest SiriusXM listener happy. The addition of both TuneStart and TuneMix are two features that make the price tag worth it. The former allows subscribers to start from the beginning of a song on a new station, while the latter allows for the creation of a music station based on favorite channels. Additionally, the Onyx EZ offers pause, rewind and replay functionality on your favorite channels for up to 30 minutes.
Installation in the vehicle is super easy with the included vehicle kit (adapter, antenna, etc.) that allows you transfer between cars all on a single subscription. The full-color display will showcase album art, channel logos and graphics to add some visual appeal. The Onyx Plus offers “SiriusXM Xtra,” which includes more music and entertainment channels, plus SiriusXM Latino. And catching up on the big game is no problem with Sports Ticker. There are some standard features, too, including one-touch access to traffic and weather, as well as one-touch jump back to a previous channel.
Convenient for both your home and your vehicle, the Sirius’ XEZ1H1 Onyx EZ is a great low-price option that comes with a remote control. Some nifty features included: you can browse what’s playing on other channels while you are listening to your current one, and you can also store up to 10 favorite channels for one-touch access. And installation is easy for both home and vehicle kits. In the car, just connect the antenna, powered cord and auxiliary cord to your vehicle’s stereo system. The backlit blue LCD shows basic information, including artist, channel, title, etc. And although the hardware itself is fairly bare bones, the Onyx EZ is an easy entry point into the XM/Sirius world and it’s hard to argue with the price.
The Commander Touch offers a beautiful color capacitive touchscreen display that offers full-color 480 x 180 pixel display album art, artist name, song title, channel logos and program information. As with most of the higher-end portable satellite radios, the Touch includes pause, rewind, and replay for up to 60 minutes of listening. The TuneMix feature creates a mix of songs from a subscriber’s favorite stations with the included album art and channel logos. Songs will automatically pause when a stop occurs while listening in the car for up to 30 minutes and then replay from where the radio left off. SiriusXM will provide software updates to the Commander Touch via a USB flash drive that will help offer new features and capabilities as they are available.
At just 3.88 ounces and 4.1" (W) x 1.69" (H) x .48" (D), the Touch is in the middle of the road when compared to the rest of the portable satellite radio competition. However, car installation is a snap and portability is simplified with multiple car attachments all on a single subscription.
The SiriusXM SSV7V1 Stratus 7 is as basic as a satellite radio gets. Push-button navigation allows for easy channel surfing and you can store up to 10 of your favorite channels for one-touch access. Listening in multiple vehicles requires the purchase of multiple accessory kits, but extends the life and use cases for the Stratus 7. The overall design is fairly basic. There’s no “wow” factor to its look and feel, but it gets the job done. TuneScan, a feature which allows you to start a song from the beginning on a new channel, is not available. The same goes for TuneStar,t which allows listeners to create their own music channel by blending their favorite music channels. While it may lack some features, the Stratus 7 offers a clear signal and easy installation. While we’d love to see a remote in the future, it’s still a great deal.
True portability with satellite radio can be found via the Android, BlackBerry and iPhone smartphone app. What you lose from a specific radio system, you can gain in complete portability. Streaming channels include all the traditional subscriber options (and even some online-only channels). The smartphone app includes “on demand” access to the SiriusXM catalog of content, allowing you to listen when it’s convenient, not necessarily when it is live. Storing talk radio and entertainment shows offline allows the additional capability to listen offline or away from a cellular signal.
You can also share your music with new social features, as well as receive personalized recommendations to help find new content. And a smart, easy-to-navigate design helps simplify the number of presses it takes to find and play music. Streaming is included with every All Access SiriusXM subscription. The smartphone app allows subscribers to go back in time up to five hours to listen to previous content, and Start Now starts every song at the beginning upon selecting a new channel. Favorites, settings and listening history all sync between devices allowing you to listen from your iPhone and then pick right up where you left off on your iPad. The app itself is free and offers a truly portable listening experience. If you’re already a subscriber, listening virtually anywhere offers just one more attractive reason to be a SiriusXM subscriber.
If it’s the best Sirius XM radio experience you’re after, the Starmate 8 radio is the pinnacle of the company’s collection. With six available display colors to match your dashboard lighting, the Starmate 8 offers to pause, rewind and replay up to 30 minutes of live satellite radio. Compatible with a slew of cradles, boomboxes and home kit units, the display shows the artist name, song title and channel information. Once installed, Starmate 8 owners can store up to 10 of their most desired stations for easy one-touch access while browsing other channels while listening to their favorites.
Measuring 4 x 2 x 1.1 inches and weighing 3.4 ounces, the Starmate 8 is portable enough to easily transition from car to home and back again without skipping a beat, all with a single Sirius XM subscription. For parents, locking and unlocking channels with mature content is super easy with parental controls. Additionally, rush-hour drivers will find the inclusion of one-touch jump to traffic and weather a bonus perk they’ll quickly learn to love. Setup inside the car is incredibly easy with the included PowerConnect vehicle kit, so you'll be able to listen to sports games and over a hundred commercial-free music channels within minutes.
Car-based satellite systems are great for multi-purpose lifestyles and all the plug-and-play options on this list will give you plenty in the way of features. But, if you’re a sports fan, you need access to SiriusXM’s sports stations 24/7 — whether you're in the car or not. That’s where the TTR2 Sound Station comes in.
The standalone 5.2 x 10.8 x 6-inch radio employs a SiriusXM receiver right on-board and you can access all the requisite music, talk radio and sports stations — MLB, Nascar, NFL and more with your SiriusXM subscription — you want. What’s great is you can use this as an in-home speaker as well — something that sets it apart from Sirius' car-based models. They’ve even thrown in some alarm functionality, so you can wake up to sports updates or news programs, rather than your regular alarm (you can even snooze it). It’s a great speaker, with a good amount of volume and it’ll look nice in any room.
Installation - As with all electronics, consider the ease of installation before purchasing a satellite radio. While most have a simple setup, some can be a bit more complex. Many radios will come with a vehicle kit (including an adapter, antenna, and more) that lets you transfer between cars all on a single subscription. You can also check YouTube for installation tutorials if you get stuck.
Display - Not all displays are created equal. Some radios have full-color, touch-screen displays, while others have more basic, black-and-white displays with physical buttons. Some show information like the station, song title, and even album art, while others are much more bare-bones.
Size - Of course, portable satellite radios need to be small enough in dimensions and weight to be conveniently portable. Options range in weight from 4 ounces on up, and in size from as small as a checkbook up to a large clock radio. Choose a size that is practical given the amount of toting around you’ll do.