Sunday, December 14, 2008

Product review: XMp3 satellite radio

***Full disclosure: This is a sponsored review, for which I received an XMp3 player from XM.***

A couple of weeks ago, a representative from Matchstick Marketing asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing an XMp3 satellite radio if they sent me one for free. Never one to say no to free swag, I accepted, and have been exploring the features the unit offers. There's a lot of them, some of which are great, some of which are somewhat useless.

There's lots of content. Lots. There are channels for every major sport, and every hockey game is broadcast in its entirety. (Although you can find every game's radio broadcast on, too.) On the NHL Home Ice channel, there's constant hockey talk; it's not always about your favourite team, and they run a loop of the recap overnight, but it's nice to listen to during the day. Some of the shows are great, I found that I particularly enjoyed Gretzky's and The Hockey News shows.

The biggest problem I found was reception, though; if you're walking around, you'll lose the feed, especially if you go under a roof and sometimes I even lost it when I put the unit in your pocket. The kit I received came with a home base and external antenna that you could set up to get perfect reception, but being tied down kind of defeated the purpose of having a hand-held, portable radio. Pre-recording programs (you can set the unit up to record up to 75 hours of programs from up to 5 channels at a time) was a great option, and so when I was moving around I listened to pre-recorded content quite often.

The whole thing was pretty straight-forward to set up. The battery life hasn't been a problem at all so far, and the thing's got a remote control that comes in handy if you've got it plugged into the dock with speakers alongside. To see more about the unit, and pursue a special offer for a free SD card and $50 off your plan with purchase , click here.

To be honest, though, I thought the sports coverage paled in comparison to the musical content offered with an XM subscription. I have a hard time listening to the NHL Home Ice station when I could be listening to E Street Radio (all Bruce Springsteen, all the time), or Caliente ("salsa, pop, merengue, bachata and reggaeton music. The classics you know and love, with a sprinkle of the newest breakthrough artists direct from Latin America"), or Chill ("a place that pulses with exotic and cerebral music"), or any of the other genres there are. There's also the ability to record live radio and listen to it later, more useful for music than it might be for time-sensitive sports news, and an SD card reader to store a personal collection of Mp3s.

I think there are definitely some sports fans who could totally use the product. If you're a Sens fan out of Ottawa, or a fan of any team outside of their home city, the live streaming game coverage of the whole league would be huge. Or someone who's just a nut for all things hockey, because I often found myself listening to the soothing sounds of Western Conference matchups while dozing off to sleep. All in all, it's a pretty cool machine, but--personally--I don't think I'd use it enough to justify the cost.

***Not sure how many product reviews we might be offered on this blog, but feel free to let me know what you think about the idea--or about XM Satellite Radio--in the comments.***
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