Posted in: Mobile Entertainment

Satellite Radio and the iPod

After a school-induced blog hiatus, I am back with a few posts. About a month ago I got XM Satellite radio installed in my car. I was debating whether or not it made any sense to actually pay $12 per month for radio when I have a perfectly good FM tuner and an iPod. After a month with XM, I have to say that the two producs are complements, not substitutes.

First off, XM satellite radio is one of the best consumer electronics products I have bought in quite some time. In terms of impact, the only product that I can compare to XM is the experience of going from pre-TiVo to life with TiVo — once you have experienced the new product, it is virtually impossible to go back to the way you were. Instead of listing all of the reasons that satellite radio is superior to your plain old AM/FM tuner, suffice it to say that there are many benefits (fewer commercials, more niche programming, better audio quality, etc) for potential converts.

However, while my iPod is great in the car for listening to music that I already have and enjoy, XM provides two key features that my iPod cannot. First and foremost, XM allows me to discover new artists and music in a way that my iPod does not. I don’t know if you listen to normal radio very often, but the narrow playlists tend not to expose you to too much in terms of new artists. Second, there is a certain serendipity to radio that cannot be recreated even with the best random playlist generator for an iPod.

So, for all of this talk about automotive convergence, satellite radio has carved an important (and defensible) niche in my car audio experience. For all of the naysayers out there, I suggest that you get satellite radio and try it for yourself — it really is a valuable product and has value separate and distinct from the iPod.

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