In addition to the standard playback and browsing of SiriusXM's stations by number or category, the SXV100 offers a few new features that are unique to this generation of SiriusXM tuners.
A feature called Instant Replay takes advantage of a digital audio cache rolled into the tuner to pause live broadcasts for up to 30 minutes. You can then resume playback with fast-forward and rewind capabilities. Unfortunately, switching sources or powering down the unit wipes the cache, so you won't be able to, for example, pause NPR while you run into a store to pick up a few items and expect it to resume when you get back.
Song tagging, a feature that we've seen on many HD Radio tuners, enables you to save a list of songs to a connected iPhone or iPod by tapping a button sequence while listening to a SiriusXM broadcast. When the iPod is connected to a PC for its next sync, you can access the tagged song list for purchase in iTunes.
Finally, a trio of features--Song Alert, Artist Alert, and Game Alert--enables you to mark a song, artist, or sports team (NFL, NBA, NHL or collegiate teams supported) so that when that content is playing on any SiriusXM station you'll be prompted with the option to switch stations and listen.
Browsing stations with the CDE-124SXM's knob and single-line display can be tricky--and for the first day of testing we found it rather slow. However, once we'd gotten the hang of what buttons to push and in what order, we were able to jump to any station within seconds. Still, we'd recommend that you take a moment and preset a handful of favorite stations before you get on the road, lest you spend too much time staring at the tiny screen while the vehicle is in motion.
The Alpine CDE-124SXM is a great value for those who want to kill two birds with one stone and upgrade their car stereo while adding SiriusXM Satellite Radio connectivity to their in-car audio source mix. At an MSRP of $229.99, this bundle also ends up being less expensive than what we'd expect to pay for the CD receiver alone.
However, there's another way to get this level of functionality from Alpine outside of the CDE-124SXM package. The SXV100 tuner can be purchased separately for $69.99 and paired with Alpine's own CDE-123 single-CD receiver ($199.95) and likely an entire future generation of Alpine receivers of various form factors. Of course, buying the components separately is more expensive--at a combined MSRP of $269.94, they're about $40 more separately than as a bundle. However, for that $40, the superior CDE-123 receiver adds a few niceties that serious car audio lovers will appreciate. For example, it can decode WMA and AAC audio files via its CD-player and USB port. It also sprouts a second rear USB port that's useful for those who like to leave a USB drive permanently connected. System builders will appreciate that the CDE-123 unit can be upgraded with an optional Bluetooth receiver, an input for connecting the receiver to a steering-wheel control module, and two more pairs of RCA audio connections, adding dedicated rear and subwoofer outputs for connecting more amplifiers.
For the money, we'd spend the extra $40 and buy our components separately to get the Alpine CDE-123 receiver. However, if you never plan to connect an amplifier to your receiver and are pinching pennies, the CDE-124SXM is a good value and a very good choice.