"Honest Opinion"on by rpong
Pros Compact, Light, Appealing sleak look, Appealing Graphical Interface
Cons Minor bugs in the firmware, the 1st release of this product, minor annoyances
Summary Let me first by saying I've read a lot of reviews both on CNET and other websites. I will give my unbiased opinion as I was not aware of this product and all the hype as many of the reviewers were.
The S50 has met my expectations of being a portal device which plays music I record from the radio. Yes, the RIAA have set some limitations but that’s to be expected in this new age of satellite radio. One of the restrictions being you cannot record a block of a music channel. I’m not concerned about this restriction as many of the reviews I’ve read are. The reason being is because I only record the songs that I like. Some of the songs on the radio I just don’t care for, therefore I choose not to record it. The longer you use this radio and record the songs you like the bigger your library. Eventually you wont care that you can’t record a block of music because you’ll have enough music to keep you happy anyway.
If you’re looking for a device to record specific songs you like when you hear it on the radio then this is the device for you. If you’re one of those people who like having 60gigs of memory to fit songs you wont even listen to, then you should stick to your ipod. It’s like those people who live in the city and have 400 horses in their engine but can’t use it cause they live in the city. Personally, I use this device at work and on plane rides so 4-6 hours of content and battery life is just enough for me. I really like being able to pick and choose which songs I want to record. It’s almost like downloading songs online and uploading them to your ipod without actually going through the hassle. I listen to a song, I like it, I click a button and can hear it later in its entirety.
One of the questions I had about this device before I bought it was, “Can I select to record a song in the middle of it and still expect the S50 to record the whole song?”. The answer is yes, the S50 design team thoughtfully took this into consideration. The S50 has a buffer which remembers the start of the song and will record the song in its entirety even though you select to record it after the song has been playing for awhile. I really like how the S50 starts and stops the recording at the beginning and end of the song.
The S50 unit itself is very light. To me it doesn’t seem like it was built flimsy. I tend to respect my electronic devices, especially at a $330 price tag. With regular use I cannot imagine breaking the device. However, I can see a teenager getting it for Xmas and breaking it through disrespect and abnormal use.
As with ANY new electronic device or software that is pushed out the market quickly, it have its little bugs. First off, when I try to record a song after switching to a new station it does not allow me to save a portion of the song. The S50 should let me just record a portion but it seems like a little glitch that was overlooked by the testers. Then again, I don’t know if I would really want to save a portion of a song anyways. Also, I left my device on the whole night to figure out how to record a talk radio station back to back to get around that 2 hour time limitation set by the RIAA. Howard Stern is more than two hours . Getting to the point, when I woke up the device froze and was unable to shut it down or reset it. Finally, I had to take the battery out and start it up. The news station did record however, so it probably froze afterwards. I haven’t been able to replicate the problem.
My recommendation is to buy the S50 from your local Circuit City or Best Buy and spend an extra $50 for the four year protection plan. The reason being is because I’m expecting this device to fail in the future either electronically or by normal wear and tear. You can return it easily and/or get a replacement with the defect corrected. I have a feeling this product was pushed out to the market a little early for the Christmas season. Much like the Xbox 360 and the IPOD Nano had their problems when it was first released. I know, it shouldn’t be like this but unfortunately the reality is it does happen. The extra $50 will buy you a new S50 when or if it fails in the next four years. Generally, Circuit City and Best Buy will honor their protection plans and will replace your S50 with a brand new one of a later model. I’ve done this with my Handspring “Palm pilot”. When Handspring was sold to Palm Pilot they just gave me a different brand of equal value more than two years later. When a newer, better, more reliable and bug free S50 comes out, I’ll probably find a way to break mine and trade it in for a brand new one. Thanks best buy!
I hope this review helped. Go Sirius!
Pros Amazing Display, Very light and portable, Mechanicly easy to record single songs
Cons You can not schedule recordings for music channels !, Controls are a little unintuitive, Home dock is a little flaky, Worst support I have seen for any product
Summary I was very excited to buy this product. The fact that the S50 does not have the capability to listen to live satelite stream was not important as I had heard that the MiFi that XM offers had very poor reception anyways.
I activated the radio and soon found that I was unable to scuedule a recording for music channels; only talk/sport channels. I tried contacting Sirius support, but I gave up after 40 minutes on hold. I emailed support, searched the web and foind sever articles that mentioned that due to RIAA restrictions, the S50 had been crippled. Not only could you not scheule recordings for music channels, but you could only record one song at a time; neither of these items were reflected in the user manual.
The reason I got the S50 was that I wanted to be able to record a few hours worth of music overnight and take it to the gym...this was impossible to do with the S50. So, I very promptly returned it.
As a further insult, when I finaly recieved an email from their support (3 days after I send the email) all the tech did was regurgiate the user manual with instructions on the mechanisms of recording a channel. My email detailed how I was able to schedule recordings for talk channels, but I recieved a "Recording Not Permitted" message when I tried to schedule a recording for a music channel. So, it was clear that the tech barely read my email before giving me a useless response. I have to say that Sirius support is the worst I have seen for any product.
If you can live with the restrictions of the S50, than it is a very nice product...but be aware of those limitation because you will not get any usefull info from Sirius.
Pros Sirius Programing better then XM
Cons not too many
Summary If you get the Firmware update, like CNET did not, you can set up recordings on every station, even music ones. Hit one button, to save a song, I have over 140 songs saved from SIRIUS, plus I have hours of talk shows, and my own Mp3s. The size is the best, I have had good luck with battery life. The display is better then any Ipod out there. It has to be the best Sat radio out there today! Controlls on car dock are a little small, but I use the remote in the car.
Pros Size and style is iPod nano-like; Howard Stern!
Cons Content management needs MAJOR improvements
Summary I bought this for one reason only: Howard Stern. I like my music my way, on my iPod (not to mention that I am primarily a Mac user, so I am not going to encode anything in Windows Mobile format).
The iPod nano-like appearance of the device is an eye-catcher; and when in a cradle (car or home), it's a joy to use. You can pause, rewind, fast forward live broadcasts, like TiVo, and a pleasant voice announces changes in channels, menu commands, etc.
Unfortunately, Sirius didn't consider that a great many users would be recording live talk (Stern) — scheduled recordings are limited to two hours. At the time of my purchase, the home dock was so rare I though it was an urban legend, so I had to dock it in my car. Programming is limited to 2 hour blocks, so Stern, whose show lasts 4-5 hours, has to be recorded in 2 hour blocks. The playlist arrangement is reversed: the first recordings appear at the bottom. So when you get to the end of the two hour block, you have to go to the Playlists menu and go UP to get the next two hours.
In a final insult, the broadcasts can't even me streamed through the God-awful Sirius player software, nor can it be exported to a different audio format. Now, I can understand not wanting someone to swap MP3's of the day's show, but to not even stream it through my PC? And the content appears in the same order as on the player; I couldn't figure out how to re-arrange it so that it played chronologically. The controls on the un-docked unit are cumbersome — why didn't they use something based n the wonderful simplicity of the iPod?
Finally...since I don't drive to work, the home dock was an absolute necessity for me. Unfortunately, not ONE unit was to be found in Northern California from December until now. Sirius way underestimated the number of subscribers. The unit claims 6 hours of battery life; but in my use, it got far less. During Howard's first week (which coincided with Macworld), the unit regularly gave out around the 4 hour mark.
On that note...Sirius customer support is non-existent. I waited on hold for 3 hours before giving up. Their web site (which relies heavily on Flash...ugh) is just as unhelpful. And the manual is far from comprehensive; it looks like it was written to cater to the most techno-phobic.
Sirius is experiencing growing pains, to be sure, so some of these faults can be forgiven. But the major limitations on content management remain, as well as the UI of the device when un-docked. Even if the shows could only be played through the Sirius software, I would be happy if I could archive them onto my PC so I could listen to them later, and have more room on the device for more Howard. I give it a 6: 9 for the content, 4 for the device, and 2 for the other issues.
Pros A lot of memory for recording, nice display, light weight, control it without looking
Cons It's all plastic, may feel cheap to some, expensive
Summary The S50 is the best Sirius tuner I've seen so far. I shopped for a while and settled on this one as the features warranted the large price tag. Features like color display, channel branded backgrounds and 1GB of memory for recording cannot be found on any other tuner.
Recording is essential to portability. There are no Sirius tuners out there yet that do true portability but the recording features of the S50 satisfy my portable requirements.
I haven't had a problem with battery life yet but the battery is replaceable and small so you could have as many batteries as you need. The firmware upgrades are painless and the included software is decent.
The S50 can be operated without looking at the display because the interface has a built in screen reader. I found this feature unique and innovative.
The display is beautiful. It's front lit and needs to be to see the screen (which may explain battery performance).
I wish I could transfer saved content to my PC and I wish the S50 was build more like an iPod with aluminum casing instead of the grey plastic.
If you don't want to install this in your car (like myself since I have a tuner that integrates with my Alpine deck) and you don't want to shell out the bucks to get a Home Kit, the Car Kit will work in the home. The only thing you'll need is a power supply from you're local Radio Shack.