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As you know on Thursday Night I got my new XM activated. After having the unit for a few days, I took a few road trips and here is my review of XM after using it for a weekend.

I got one of the Sony Plug and Play units. I did not opt for the the extra Home Install Kit as the unit is easy enough to move, and I have a powerpack in the house in which is like a cigerette lighter outlet.

I did not mount the unit in my truck with the mount, instead It fits nicely inside my cup holder that my truck has built in the center console. This way the wires are out of the way and I can angle the unit to see the display.

As I wrote in my first day review, I was suprised to find that the XM Signal worked everywhere I went including 2 stories underground at my offices parking garage. I was very impressed with its reception.

This weekend I decided to put my XM unit to a test, I drove from Outside Hartford to just outside Providence, Rhode Island for my grandmothers 75th Birthday Party. Most of the way there I was on Highways. Although for some parts I took some narrow old country roads.

Driving through Hartford was flawless, even through the Hartford tunnel. I never lost signal. However somewhere around Norwich (about 40 miles outside of Hartford) for a stretch every bridge I went under knocked out the signal for a second or 2.

Because of this I can assume that the Hartford area has a repeater serving the area, which is the reason I can go underground and have service but if I go to a country area when signal is blocked by trees or Bridges I lost signal.

I was able to prove this therory tonight about the repeaters because as I type this my XM Radio is sitting on top of my Monitor and the Antenna is next to it. I am nowhere near a window. I even further covered the antenna to try to knock out the signal.

On to the sound quality... When I got my first (yes first I will get into that more in a little bit) XM unit the Cassette adapter would not work correctly in my tucks stereo unit. The adapter would just keep activating the auto reverse feature on my radio. I was able to get around this by using an old adapter I had purchased a long time ago. With this adapter it added a hiss, by turning on the Dolby noise reduction on my stereo I was able to cut out most but not all of the hiss. When I got my second XM unit I got another cassette adapter, I am happy to report the hiss went away.

On Yesterdays Trip I took my wife, my father and step mother with me on the trip. My dad is a music nut so I let him play with XM. He kept on playing around on the Genre Channels, it was amazine diffrences going from the older Mon stuff from the 40s - 50s and 60's to the stereo stuff. Amazing seperation and good bass (but because of the cassette adapter it had the annoying but hardly noticable hiss.) Today with the new XM Unit and new Adapter the Hiss is gone and the audio sounds great, the only wierd noise I hear now is the Fan unit which is built in the Sony Plug and Play unit.

One thing we all found annoying what the volume levels. in flipping from the channels my dad stopped on the 40's channel who was playing an old newscast or something, in order to hear it we had to CRANK UP the radio full blast and we could still hardly hear it, then we changed it to another station and almost blew the glass out of the truck. This problem is found on many of the XM channels. They should have the same range of audio levels for all channels. The talk channels volume are also very low. You would think that they would keep everything on the same basic volume level.

The problem I find with the Sony Radio is that 1) The Display is hard to read and 2) there are not enough presets on it.

When you are driving down the road at 65 miles per hour it is REALLY hard to look at the display and to flip through 100 channels. Having only 5 presets is not enough (nowhere near enough!) Changing channels is not easy in the unit with the spinner button on the top of the unit. There is no way to directly enter the channel you want to listen to. The Sony Units have a USB Jack on the back of them (Its a special USB connector which sony also used on my Vaio Notebook computer) Hopefully in the future they will have an upgrade to the units to allow for more presets.

My dad who enjoys Oldies was disapointed with XM's 50's and 60's channels, he said many of the songs played were not the origional recordings. While he was thrilled to hear a lot of songs he hasnt heard in a long time, he wished that XM would also offer a 50's and 60's combined channel. (A good oldies Channel)

I am a talk radio nut, and am suprised with the shows they have on XM. Many popular syndicated shows air here, the only problem is the shows are delayed a day from their origional broadcast. It was great driving today and being able to listen to the Monstors of Midday show from WTKS in Orlando Florida. (You can hear this show live at WTKS.COM)

Today I was driving home and all the sudden my Sony Unit DIED. No power whatsoever. I called XM who admitted that there have been reports of the Sony Units dieing in the first few days. I then went to Best Buy and got a new unit. XM was really good about the entire thing, as I was waiting to get my new unit at Best Buy XM called me back and waited on the phone with me untill I had the new box in hand. When I did they asked for my Unit ID number and because I was offline would activate my new unit as top priority over all other activations! I gave the rep the number to the rep and he told me that as soon as I got outside the unit would be on! I went to my truck and poped it in, within 30 seconds my unit was activated and on!

Overall I can say I REALLY like the XM service. My wife who was against me getting XM enjoyed playing with the unit today and loved the music she heard. The customer service was also top notch.

One complaint I do have is that on the commercial free stations they have commercials for the station you are listening to they are not your regular Jingles but instead things like voices saying "Your listening to the 70s on 7, 70's on 7. Some of these promos are over 30 seconds long. My dad commented that he would rather hear real commercials then the ads for the station to which you are already tuned to.

Thats my review of XM for today.

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