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SatRadioTalk.COM SKYFI Radio Review!


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23 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   Scott Greczkowski

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 08:52 AM

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Last night my lovely wife and I were sitting at home, I was getting ready to do my bi-weekly Video newscast for DBSTalk.COM.

My wife was looking over my TelePrompter script for the night and noticed that I mentioned in it that the new SkyFi radio and it also mentioned that it was now available. She remembers me hearing me talk about them before and she knew I wanted one.

She asked me "Do you think our Best Buy has them yet?"

I replied back "I'm not sure but I sure would like one!"

She replied back "we can go check, and if they have one one we will get it!"

Quickly we were in my Mercury Mountaineer which is already decked out with all the latest electronics gizmo's, a Sony Plug and Play XM Radio, a Pop Down TV Screen from the roof of my truck, a DVD Player, a Playstation 2, a Nintendo 64, and a nice big red XM Radio Sticker on my rear window of my truck that was sent to me by Keith of XMFAN.COM

Soon we pulled into the Newington, Connecticut Best Buy store. I quickly walked to the satellite radio displays and waited for someone to ask me if I needed help, after a 5 minute wait a clerk walked up, I told him that I am looking for a satellite radio that they did not have on display yet, the clerk interrupted me and said, "are you talking about the SkyFi?"

"Yes!" I exclaimed!

"We got 3 in stock you want one?" he asked. I nodded my head yes, he did tell me that they were all out of the home adapter kits needed to run the Delphi unit, I asked him if he could call the West Hartford store which is only 5 miles away, he quickly got on the phone and asked, yes they had the home unit in stock. He asked them to put on aside for me.

Because this clerk was helpful, we decided to buy the radio from him instead of buying everything from the other store.

Soon we we off to the other Best Buy. When we waled to the satellite radio area there was a clerk walking around holding the Home Adapter in his hands. I told him that he was probably holding it for me, and indeed he was. We quickly paid and we on our way home.

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As soon as I got home I plugged in everything and turned the unit on. An animated XM Logo greeted me! I was in heaven! After the logo went away I was listening to the XM Demo Channel, I had signal instantly!

I went into the menu and adjusted the Brightness and Contrast of the Display as it was too bright and actually was distorting the words on the screen. The orange Display looks good, but I wish the color was blue instead of orange.

With that being said I logged onto xmradio.com and activated my receiver, within 10 minutes the unit was fully activated. I quickly tuned through the dial and was happy with the performance.

When you tune using the dial you can see 5 channel names at a time! Also by pressing the Display button you can display the artists playing on the channels and with another press of the display button you can see the song name which is playing on other channels! I was VERY Impressed!

You can also directly tune in channels by typing in the the channel number on the keypad or remote.

When you are listening to a song you by default will see the following by default on your screen.

The Channel Category that the channel belongs to, a 3 Line Signal Meter, the channel name, the artist, and the song title.

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By pressing the Display button once you loose the Artist and Title instead a big Channel number is shown.

If you press the Display button again the Artist and song title is scrolled across the display in large letters! I could actually read the display from across the room!

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One disappointment that I found is not so much with the radio itself but with XM. It seems as though XM only sends out 20 characters in both the Artists name and Song title. So some song names are cut off. The SkyFi display is an improvement over my Sony Plug and Play units which only show 15 Characters. I understand that other XM radios only show 8 letters from the artist and song names, so the Delphi is the best in displaying the artist and titles. Its just disappointing XM is only sending out limited data.

The sound quality is on par with the Sony Plug and Play, I did not hear any noticeable sound difference between the two.

There is no fan in the SkyFi like the Sony has this is a good thing because a fan after time will get loud and will probably die. The SkyFi does get warm to the touch, but nothing to worry about.

The remote is nice and small, but not flat like the Sony Plug And Play remote. You will not find yourself carrying this remote around.

All the features are well laid out, I like the Signal strength screens, although the geek in me would like to see separate satellite signal indicators for both of XM's Rock and Roll satellites.

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The Antenna that comes with the Home Adapter Kit really surprised me! It stands only a half inch talk compacted, but its adjustable so that you can raise the antenna to get the best performance. The gain on the antenna is also very surprising, I was able to get both very good satellite and terrestrial repeater signals in my house. The antenna was located no where near a window, so the fact it was picking up satellite signals as well as repeater signals surprised me. The antenna has mounts on the back so you can permanently mount your antenna (outside if you wish) The antenna only has one connector which is different then the Sony Plug and Play which has 2 antenna connections (one for satellite and one for repeater)

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Overall I am impressed with the SkyFi and once the Car Adapter and Boombox become available I will recommend this XM Radio to everyone who is looking for a XM Radio.

Just for those who are wondering I paid $129 for the radio itself and $69.95 for the Home Adapter Kit.

BTW I apologize for the fuzzy pictures, my digital camera does not take good close up pictures.

Thanks for reading and visiting SatRadioTalk.COM! (And thanks to my Wifey for letting me get a SkyFi when we already have 2 other XM Radios!)

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#2 OFFLINE   John Corn

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 09:38 AM

Nice review Scott!

I was wondering how well this radio could pick up a signal in a big building? I would love to have one of these at work, I'm not near any sort of window either. Regular AM/FM signals inside my office are bad.

Anyone have any idea?
Have a Great Day! :) :flag:

#3 OFFLINE   Scott Greczkowski

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 09:46 AM

Well at the moment I am in the middle of a skyscraper on the 24th floor.

My office is in the center of the building. My office has no windows to the outside, and it works GREAT in here.

Of course there is a repeater serving my area which makes that possible (which my company actually runs believe it or not) :)

I can't pick up AM at all and can only pick up 2 FM stations out of the 40 that serve my area, so this XM works really well.

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 11:55 AM

Scott, great review. I'm more interested in the gain on this Delphi antenna, and if it is compatible with the existing sony/pioneer units. Although the delphi looks pretty good and CHEAP!

Will you do any comparisons in signal strength between the two? Delphi/sony?

-Ziggy (zigsym)

#5 OFFLINE   Scott Greczkowski

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 02:13 PM

The Delphi antenna blows the Sony one away, in my house I get ZERO satellite signal on the Hidden Sony Signal meter.

On the deplhi I get a solid 2 lines from the satellite.

That seems very impressive to me!

Lets just hope the Delphi is not lying to me about the satellite signal, there is no way at the moment to be sure as I live next to the local XM repeater.

#6 OFFLINE   Doug E

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 04:25 PM

Scott, I read your thread this morning and rushed out to my Best Buy and bought a Delphi. Unfortunately they only had the home kit and the receiver, but not the car kit. I purachased those and headed for Circuit City. NO stock there at all, but clerk mentioned I was the second person asking for it.

I have the antenna placed in a window looking southeast as the manual suggests (I live in Northern Calif). On the special antenna install screen I have all four squares darkened, and on the regular screen I see three lines. The sound is awesome playing through my high end sound system!

Thanks for the review and encouragement to rush out and get one!

Doug

#7 OFFLINE   Doug E

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 04:39 PM

Oh, and another comment Scott. I show no terrestial signal strength, and I can only assume there is none since I am not located in an area densely populated with buildings and therefore not needed.

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 05:21 PM

What does the car antanne look like?

#9 OFFLINE   Scott Greczkowski

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Posted 11 October 2002 - 06:43 PM

Cool Doug! Let us know how you like it after you played with it a few days!

Socal XMER the car antenna looks like the Terk Antenna. I dont have a car kit yet but home to soon.

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Posted 12 October 2002 - 10:05 AM

Any suggestions on getting audio from one of these into a Ford stock radio with no input jacks and no cassette deck?

I hate to modulate because (a) it sucks quality-wise and (B) the antenna's efficiency is drastically reduced by sending the air signal thru a modulator.

I'm afraid I'll have to junk a brand new stock radio in order to get XM in the car....

#11 OFFLINE   Doug E

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Posted 12 October 2002 - 12:32 PM

Scott, I stayed up most of the night dx-ing my new SkFi. Awsome sound quality and quantity! I love it. I could not purchase a vehicle adaptor kit anywhere locally (hopefully next week I am told), but since I do not have a cassette player in my Honda Odyssey Van (cd player only), how do you suppose I will be able to use my receiver in the van? I have a niftly little fm radio transmitter that allows me to connect to any sound source. Do you suppose that I can plug this transmitter in the cradle instead of the cassette adapter? Any thoughts on getting around this problem? Thanks,

Doug

#12 OFFLINE   Scott Greczkowski

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Posted 12 October 2002 - 02:15 PM

Doug that would work, of course a FM Modulator will effect the sound quality.

I myself have a Ramsey FM transmitter which I use to broadcast my XM when I am working outside.

My neighbors must like it if they stumble upon it as the signal goes for about a mile around. :)

#13 OFFLINE   Doug E

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Posted 12 October 2002 - 03:00 PM

Scott, are you saying that the FM modulator will degrade the sound quality more than the cassette adaptor would? I wonder why? So maybe I should invest a Ramsey; where do I obtain one?

Thanks MR. well of all info :)

#14 OFFLINE   Scott Greczkowski

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Posted 12 October 2002 - 03:26 PM

Actually the casette adapter gives better sound quality then the FM modulator.

Remember FM only has limited quality, you take the XM which is near CD Quality and out it up against ANY FM station and the XM will sound better.

Now take that XM Signal output and hook it up to a FM modulator and you will notice it sounds a lot different. Now you may have seen in the news this week the FCC authorized radio stations to start broadcasting Digitaly, when this happens if you have a Digital FM / AM radio your FM reception should sound more like XM.

Byt at the moment FM does not have the fedelity quality that you XM currently outputs. :)

#15 OFFLINE   Scott Greczkowski

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Posted 12 October 2002 - 03:27 PM

BTW this is the transmitter I have. :)

http://www.ramseyele...ction&key=FM25B

#16 OFFLINE   Chris L

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Posted 13 October 2002 - 03:41 PM

Thanks for the review, Scott! I picked up the SkyFi with the car kit at the Best Buy in Memphis last night (had a preferred customer weekend coupon - got it for $117) and installed it today. It's a nice little unit.

As soon as it activates, I'm going out for a couple of hours' drive just to test it out :)

#17 OFFLINE   Wyoming_Companion

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Posted 14 October 2002 - 09:17 PM

Originally posted by Doug E
...rushed out to my Best Buy and bought a Delphi. Unfortunately they only had the home kit and the receiver, but not the car kit. I purachased those and headed for Circuit City. NO stock there at all, but clerk mentioned I was the second person asking for it.


This availability problem is what led us to go with the pnp for now. It certainly seems that Delphi (and BB and CC) should have anticipated the potential demand!!!

If they had (AT LEAST) said, "available October 10th." I might have waited on the Sony....but they didn't.

I'm still interested in the SkyFi....but will hope for some kind of multi-radio subscription deal to come down the pike....or (AT LEAST) wait until the units are more readily available!!!! duh! :grin:

#18 OFFLINE   HarryD

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 07:59 PM

Well Scott.. I've joined the ranks of the SKY-FI club. All I can say is WOW! What a sound! And through a cassette adapter no less. Went to my BB where they had about 6 units of all (recv, car adapter, and home adapter) I just finished the install in my car. Easy although I'm not crazy about the antenna wire showing, but it's tiny. First went to CC and the salesman said the recv was $200 alone.! Oh really! Then BB, where the salesguy admitted he didn't know a whole lot about SKY-FI.
Anyway, this thing is really cool.
HarryD

#19 OFFLINE   Doug E

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Posted 25 October 2002 - 09:44 AM

I was able to purchase the vehicle kit for my awesome Delphi a week ago at Best Buy. I had purchased the Antenna Specialists glass mounted antenna, but found it would not fit anywhere on my Honda Odyssey. So I just placed the kit's antenna on the dash up against the windshield and took off for a trip to Nevada. Reception was flawless even in the mountain canyons! Miniscule dropouts when there was a brief loss of line-of-site...phenomonal.

The portability of this little receiver makes it absolutely perfect for use in both the car and in its home adaptor kit. I haven't listened to OTA radio at all since my new Delphi.

#20 OFFLINE   Scott Greczkowski

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Posted 25 October 2002 - 10:34 AM

I actually find myself driving SLOWER while listening to my XM. :)

The Delphi is a GREAT unit.




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