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Now that you can stream music on your phone, is there any need for a sat radio subscription?

asked May 05 '13 at 16:01

Kevin%20Kelly's gravatar image

Kevin Kelly

Bandwidth caps, poor 3G coverage, travelling over international borders, sports.

1 year, 8 months ago
Ajax's gravatar image Ajax

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I still use Sirius XM in my car. Saves the phone battery, plus the controls and the artist/song listing are easier to see while driving. Plus I am often using my phone as a GPS....


answered May 09 '13 at 18:34

CAFiorello's gravatar image


I listen all the time in the car. The sound quality is worse than FM, but I don't have to listen to obnoxious ads (at least on the music stations) and I can get coverage even in the boonies where no FM or cell phone signal reaches. I subscribe to the a la carte version, so for less than $10 a month I can hear lots more new music than I could pay for with Pandora and a data plan for my mobile phone. The cost for their Internet stream is too high, though—you're much better off paying for the premium service from Pandora, Spotify, Slacker, etc.


answered May 09 '13 at 18:41

sobiloff's gravatar image


Constantly. I assume you're looking for a better reason then "More music" but that really is all there is to it for me. I'm in my car for at least 2 hours a day so about 10 bucks for dozens of channels of music doesn't strike me as any odder then paying for cable TV. And I avoid "dead zones" where they are no strong, clear channels I want to listen to.


answered May 09 '13 at 19:44

JoeBentley's gravatar image


Many reasons. BBC World Service. No ads (or, more accurately, very few; there are ads for other Sirius/XM stations). Excellent disk jockeys (Michael Tearson, Mark Marone, Meg Griffin). Good talk radio services (CSPAN, POTUS.) I'm irritated that the free Internet listening is gone, and I refuse to pay extra for it, but otherwise I am very glad to have the service.


answered May 09 '13 at 20:18

derbes's gravatar image


I've read that some roadster lovers are dumping their Sirius for this tecno product. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/7/prweb9731518.htm


answered May 09 '13 at 21:12

Maintcmh's gravatar image


I have an XM radio integrated with my GPS on my motorcycle. Channel changes and volume controls are done from the GPS screen, and the XM audio is muted whenever the GPS navigation lady needs to talk to me. I pay a little extra for XM Traffic and Weather, which feed in info that the GPS uses for navigation calculations, such as routing around road closures and traffic jams.

I mainly got the XM because I ride a lot in areas that don't have terrestrial radio reception -- places like the wilds of central Nevada, northern British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska. Even with a big library of MP3's, I'd rather listen to curated music on a commercial-free XM station. On days I'm on a long ride (750+ miles), it's nice to be able to listen to a baseball game, or an 80's Alt station, or even ESPN Radio, just to have something different.


answered May 09 '13 at 22:04

tcfjr's gravatar image


I am no longer a Sirius XM customer, but there are compelling differences between their product and "your phone".

Data and Coverage

As I understand it, a significant number of people use satellite radio in areas where there isn't great radio coverage. I expect that these areas don't have great cellular coverage, so streaming on your phone probably isn't an option. I live in an area where I have perfectly fine 3G/4G coverage, but cellular data is still priced at an unreasonable premium. Being able to use a small amount of data (throughout the month) is worth it, but casually using 100MB/hr would put me over my limits. However, again, I think that's not even an option for truckers, ex-urbs, rural dwellers, or professional drivers.

Specialized Hardware

Leaving that aside, Sirius XM has nice hardware that lets you find what you're looking for (and browse) without distraction. I probably use my phone to power my car stereo more than anyone I know, and I'm still hugely frustrated by the fact that it's a phone. Sometimes you pick it up to fast-forward through a track, and you have a notification about some social media activity. Or a new email. Or a sports score. I am skeptical of people that refuse to text in the car, but claim to be perfectly capable of finding the perfect iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, or Songza playlist for the moment, given the UX limitations in those mobile apps.

On a piece of car equipment, you'll find a power button, a keypad to enter a channel number, and buttons to channel-up or channel-down. Largely distraction-free.


It's been a while since I sold the car that had Sirius XM in it, but in 2012, there were content exclusives that had no phone equivalents. Their kids station is fantastic, and almost worth the entire cost if you have kids 2-13. (I don't think Pandora or Songza come close.) Their news station selection is probably unrivaled, as they simulcast a number of cable news channels, again in a way that I don't think they've distributed to phones. One of their "indie" stations reached out to five MP3 bloggers and gave them hour-long weekly shows over lunch. And while a lot of the sports leagues are catching up to MLB's app, having all that content together is a really big part of their offering. (And all this leaves aside silly "anchors" like Howard Stern, Oprah, and Martha Stewart, who mean a lot to dedicated audiences, but who don't factor into the average person's decision to buy or not buy.)


answered May 10 '13 at 08:44

dnord's gravatar image


I have been an XM customer for about a decade. The service's price has escalated quite a bit in that time (I wish I had pulled the trigger on the lifetime membership years ago), which caused me to alter my plan last year to only include talk radio. Of that, I actually only listen to two or three public radio stations. It's about 10 bucks a month to do so, but given my location out West, the ability to pull down public radio regardless of my location is a tonic. Perhaps some day when cell towers become more prevalent I will be able to get public radio programming through my phone, but for now, satellite is the way to go for me.


answered May 10 '13 at 08:55

bigskyguy's gravatar image


I got several free months of XM after buying my new car, but I would never pay for it. The content was mostly the same as what you get on FM radio in any town, though some specialty stations (underground, indie, reggae, metal, etc) were a nice change.

The reception was terrible, at least in my town. Every time I drove next to a building or near trees, the signal would cut out completely. There are lots of trees here, so I would often get frustrated and switch back to FM.


answered May 10 '13 at 09:17

CWilson's gravatar image


I will do whatever possible to keep satellite radio, now that I finally own a car new enough to come w/it installed. I love the different genres of music that are available at the flick of the dial, the comedy channels, all of the different news options... I could go on and on. The phone app is not enough to replace having the radio in my car.

I see others who have remarked on "terrible" reception; I honestly haven't seen that issue, and any minor/intermittent issues with reception are most likely caused by solar activity and are more than outweighed by the usefulness of having radio reception when taking long car trips through the boondocks.


answered May 10 '13 at 10:22

Amazonite's gravatar image


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Asked: May 05 '13 at 16:01

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Last updated: Jun 10 '14 at 16:45

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