Cybernaut 

The good, the bad of going satellite

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I’ve been writing this Cybernaut for almost six and a half years now, and only once has a tech company sent me a gadget to try it out for myself and write a review.

That ‘once’ happened two weeks ago when a representative from Sirius Satellite Radio www.sirius.com loaned me a Starmate plug and play model ($79.95) to test drive for about 10 days.

Of those 10 days, I was too busy the first eight of them to get into the package and figure out what wires and plugs I needed to hook up the player at my desk – there was a full car hook-up included, but I ride the bus most days so I left it alone.

At last I had a few free minutes on a Thursday afternoon to play. After spending about five minutes with the instruction booklet, I was listening to 100 crystal-clear satellite radio stations at my desk.

It’s not like I discovered fire or something, but it was nice to see that the technology was somewhat intuitive – something my parents could figure out, maybe.

The selection of music is huge. Of the 100 channels Sirius offers, 60 of them are commercial-free radio sections.

Liking my tunes off the mainstream the first place I toggled to was Alt Nation, Channel 24, and was a little disappointed – no Death Cab For Cutie or Arcade Fire, but I did get to hear the latest release from The Killers… again.

So I toggled again to CBC Radio 3, which I listen to online sometimes when I’m at work. Awesome. I also spent some time at Steven Van Zandt’s Underground Garage listening to the Kid Leo Program, which was not quite what I was looking for.

After checking out a few more stations, I took a spin around the dial to see if anything caught my fancy – the way I used to channel surf on television before I went to satellite, and it took suddenly four seconds to change between stations.

That’s the only real problem with satellite radio – it’s not instant like analog. There’s a short delay while the receiver tunes into each station, which discourages back and forth channel surfing.

But it’s not much of a drawback when you consider the benefits. Just off the top of my head I can think of half a dozen reasons why you might want to get into satellite radio:

• You live in a rural area and don’t have much selection on conventional radio

• You spend a lot of time driving and are getting sick of your CDs and the poor reception on the highway

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