As I mentioned previously, I had my first in-car Sirius experience today. I had to drive from NYC to outside Philadelphia, a trip I’ve made many times. In past mornings I’ve tuned into Howard Stern, and usually hang in until some obscenely long commercial break and then tune around or activate my iPod. I knew I had Sirius in the car today as I reserved it in advance with Hertz and I made the decision to fully test it en-route and chose not too even bring my iPod.
The trip was smooth…and fully digital, with EZ-Pass guiding me through the tolls and Sirius jamming good tunes to the car the whole way there and back. I only had one real drop out which was right about the Middletown water town on the NJ Turnpike and I hit it there and back so there’s some sort of dead zone there. I lost signal for probably between 3 and 5 seconds both times… There’s actually one additional dead zone and that’s the Holland Tunnel. I lost signal more quickly heading out of the city than I did on my return, perhaps due to the difference in decline, who knows. I’d suggest installing a repeater in there though and promoting the heck out of it to commuters! Verizon was first to do that for cellular and repeated the task underground on Amtrak. Those minutes you miss are a real bummer, and could be considerably longer and disappointing if you have substantial traffic as my fellow travelers coming into the city as I was leaving at 7am most certainly did.
The unit in my car today was an Audiovox FM Modulator which worked well, but had really flimsy buttons and pretty lame display. Even though the music was consistent, I often had no or limited data (either artist or track info or a delay in displaying) something I have yet to see on my home unit. You might not be able to tell from the photos there, but there’s a small flip-out panel that gives you access to a micro-keypad for direct station access as well as memory presets. I’ve become familiar enough in the time I’ve been listening to know where I wanted to go. I doubt I would choose to purchase this device for myself in a future car, but I would definitely add it to my bill again with Hertz as Sirius is only $3 extra.
A recent post on DROXY got me thinking this could be utilized as a free add-in for a while – again strongly marketed to business travelers – to stimulate trial and push for new subscriptions. It’d be nice actually to see the price included for existing subscribers as well, but I doubt that would happen any time soon as Sirius is in a race to catch up with XM.
Recent number have Sirius at about 800,000 subscribers and XM at about 2 Million.