Review (May 2005) - Delphi
Delphi's new XM SKYFi2 Satellite Radio Receiver is their latest generation product that offers improvements in the original SKYFi receiver, making it the most advanced design currently available from the company. The good news is the new SKYFi2 design is completely compatible with existing SKYFi accessories, so if you have already made an investment with the home and vehicle adapters or the boombox, your don't have to buy new support hardware. The XM SKYFi2 can pause and replay up to 30-minutes of previously recorded digital audio from any active channel using the new replay feature. The unit can also be set up to display a personalized stock ticker or Info Extras such as a sports ticker along with a clock. Favorite stocks can be added or deleted through the menu interface. The Info Extras currently has sport score updates where the user can select specific teams they want coverage on, yet the data stream can potentially be used for other items as well. The unit also features a built-in FM modulator that can be used to transmit audio on select FM audio frequencies, allowing any FM stereo system to play XM satellite audio. The TuneSelect feature finds favorite songs or artists if they are currently playing. The unit is designed to be mated with the optional home or vehicle adapter kit or the SKYFi Audio System that is essentially a portable boom box. Since the SKYFi2 unit is sold as an individual system, one of the optional kits must be purchased separately based on the user's need. The new white LED backlight display is in our opinion easier to read than the original SKYFi unit.
The SKYFi2 receiver has an easy to use menu system that lets the user adjust brightness and contrast of the LCD display, set the bass and treble levels, real-time feedback of the satellite and terrestrial antenna strength, Direct Tune (on/off), Search Mode (category or scanning), Channel Skip/Add, Memory Recall, Tune Select (Artist or Song), Stock Ticker, Info Extras, Display Screen Mode, Set Clock, Auto-On, Auto-Off / Sleep Timer, Set Factory Defaults.
The large rotary dial is used to select the channel while in the normal display mode. Turning the dial shows a list of five items with the active one highlighted. Using the Display button, the user can switch between displaying the channel name, artist and song while navigating through the channels. Identifying a favorite song is easy with this system since it is displayed on the screen.
The Search button goes through a list of music currently being played based on genre (i.e. Rock, Jazz&Blues, etc.). Simply select the song of interest and press the XM button. The Preset/Direct buttons allows the user to choose from the A, B, or C presets or the direct mode, where the user can manually enter the channel number. Each preset group can have up to 10 channels defined for a total of 30 presets. The Jump button bounces between the last two channels selected. The buttons just above the dial are used for the 30 minute buffer allowing users to skip backward or forward to each song up to the last 30 minutes. This is a powerful feature especially for those who want to repeat previous program material they just heard on the radio.
The IR remote included with the SKYFi2 receiver is a compact design measuring only 5 inches long and 1-1/2 inches wide and powers from a pair of AAA batteries. The remote has many of the same buttons found on the front of the main receiver unit. Unlike the SKYFi2 receiver, the IR remote does not illuminate at night, making it difficult to use in dark settings. The remote does work well from a long distance away based on our tests. We were able to control the receiver reliably from more than 30 feet away indoors when using the SKYFi Audio System (Boombox). We liked using the second display mode on the receiver which allowed us to read the large text on the LCD display from a distance. The unit apparently has non-volatile memory where configuration data is stored because it always kept track of the previous information and state even when power was completely removed from the unit. This included the power state as well.
Delphi made the antenna cable extra long (21 feet), which allowed us to optimally route the cable through our vehicle. The antenna is actually quite small with a foot print of 1-3/8" x 1-3/4" with a high powered magnet that stuck like glue. In fact, the magnet was so strong that removing the antenna required effort. Four tiny rubber pads help protect the surface from scratches. The SMB connector ensures an excellent high bandwidth connection to the radio receiver. The thin cable made it easy to hide under the carpet in the car.Radio ID (Ch 0), XM Preview (Ch 1) Emergency Alert (Ch 247) are the only channels available before activating service. The Radio ID number is needed to identify your receiver and will be requested during the activation process.
Sound quality was great from this portable unit, yet was inherently limited in fidelity due to the speaker sizes. However, the sound was very clean and free of distortion often heard with portable units. The detachable antenna included with the boombox can be mounted on the rear of the unit or placed in a location to optimize reception. Again, XM provides a long 21-foot cable not to limit placement of the antenna.
Standard programming from XM Radio costs $12.95 per month for more than 150 commercial-free, digital radio channels. In addition, no contract is required. Music is available on 67 of those channels. XM also offers a premium Playboy radio channel for an additional $2.99 per month.
- Kevin Nakano
|Review - At a Glance|
Delphi XM SKYFi™ Vehicle Adapter Kit
Delphi XM SKYFi™ Audio System (Boom Box)
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