Everybody who knows me knows that I'm a technology and gadget junkie. One of the gadgets that I've been eyeing for a long time was a satellite radio for my car. When I got out of the Navy two years ago and was preparing to drive around the country to see friends, I really, really wanted to put a satellite radio in the butt-rock Camaro, but the only receivers out then were the XM variety, and they were expensive. I was also unsure about getting into the whole subscription business. So, I passed.
A few months later, Biff and I were rolling around the Puget Sound area (I think it was to buy parts for his Infinti; this was before he decided he hates cars) in his roommate's smooth Trans-Am, and he had an XM system installed. It was terrible! It cut out all the time, didn't work near my house, and the selection generally sucks. It was like ten times the amount of stations on the dial, only playing the same stuff. In fact, many stations were simply normal radio stations that also had an XM feed. Not very impressive. Certainly not worth $9.95 a month.
So yesterday, after receiving some meager bounty from the VA, I decided that maybe I'd go buy some CD's (I'm not 1337 enough to P2P my music; mostly, I'm lazy, and I really don't want the RIAA knockin' down my door). I go to my neighborhood Whorehouse music store and search for some CD's. Result: they have absolutely nothing that I'm looking for. Bummer. So as I'm driving out of the parking lot I'm passing Magnolia Hi-Fi, where a few months ago, Lisa and I bought a stereo mounting kit for her Mazda. At the time, I started lusting over a Sirius satellite radio, and Lisa grumbled something about how maybe Santa would have one or whatever. Christmas came and went, and Santa brought me a cool camcorder, but alas, no radio.
Anyway, I decided to check it out to lust over the radio, and as I'm playing with it, Mike (the same salesman that was not only intelligent, but treated us very nicely the last time) was there. He tells me that Sirius is giving a rebate on a second car install kit if you buy one kit (each car gets its own antenna and mount, and you take the receiver from car to car). I started thinking about it, and eventually this justification emanates out of my mind: "I either spend money on a whole bunch of music, or on maybe half a dozen CD's. The satellite radio seems like a much better deal." What also rocked was that they had a unit on clearance because they had spilled a dab of glue on it. Of course, I don't care, so for me, even better.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I bought a Sirius satellite radio yesterday. I put it in the Honda yesterday and drove to school with it. Today I installed the other kit in the Hooptie. The results? Awesome! I got the thing up and going in no time...the car kit plugs into the cigarette lighter and transmits wirelessly to your radio. If that doesn't work (and it was kind of static-y in the Buick because the radio is actually too good and was also picking up a station on the frequencies that it uses), or you don't want to use FM because you're too 1337, then there is an audio out and appropriate cables also provided.
Reception is damn good. Sirius has a technically superior system to XM (I've been looking at these for almost two years now). XM uses two satellites in geostationary orbit high above the equator. This works fine for a stationary TV receiver, but when your car moves around and stuff, and you live in a Northern place like me (Washington state), it tends to hella suck and cut out all of the time because the satellite is sort of low on the horizon for the antenna. Exactly what Biff and I experienced. What XM does to counteract this phenomenon is to place a whole bunch of terrestrial repeaters all over the place to boost the signal. Works great, except for the fact that this is usually only in major metropolital areas, not in radio hell (aka my home). Sirius, on the other hand, uses three satellites, in elliptical orbits. They move around, but at any one time, there are two satellites covering the US, and there is always one with at least 60 degrees of elevation above the horizon, meaning that you can do what I do, which is not install the antenna according to plan, and park next to your house, and still listen to the radio.
So now, instead of having to listen to CD's, static-y Seattle stations, or Shelton's resident country music when I'm driving to school, I get......"Hair Nation." That's right.....24 hours of pure butt-rock. Enough to make Jeff Mowrey cry.
Technology is grand.