A couple of years ago, I came across an offer for a free Audiovox SIR-PNP2 Satellite Radio with the purchase of one year prepaid subscription to Sirius. I had been interested in trying out satellite radio for some time prior to that, so I decided to give it a try.
When the radio arrived, I unpacked the box and checked it all out. The radio unit was a little bit more bulky than I had expected, but it was definitely still portable. It has a large orange display that could easily be read from a distance, and several buttons on the face of the radio to directly access the preset stations, memory, display settings, and other adjustments. It also includes a wireless remote to control the various functions from across the room. This particular model allows you to store up to 30 presets to bookmark your favorite stations, and it also has the ability to memorize up to 20 artist/song titles so that it can notify you anytime your favorite song is playing on any of the stations.
The radio unit itself does not have any audio output connections on it, instead it must be used with optional docking stations in your home or car, which stay connected to those stereos at all times. In order to take the radio with you when you travel, you simply disconnect it from the home docking station and plug into the one in your car. I made sure to order my radio with both the home and car kits, because I wanted to be able to take it with me when I traveled.
I first tried the radio out in my apartment by connecting the "Home Kit" to my stereo. I then ran the antenna to a nearby window, and powered on the radio. I was surprised that it worked right away and actually picked up a signal, because my apartment was on a lower floor, and the view of the sky was almost completely obscured by a combination of my upstairs neighbor's balcony and a large group of trees. The radio automatically tuned into an informational station that instructed me to contact Sirius to activate my subscription, so I did just that.
Once my subscription was activated, I had access to all of the Sirius programming. The sound on the music stations was decent with almost no static at all, but it did sound a little bit "compressed" compared to listening to a CD or to a terrestrial radio station. I doubt that this is the fault of the radio, though, and is probably to be expected just because of the sheer number of stations that the company is trying to fit into a fixed amount of bandwidth.
Using the radio at home was nice, but the benefits of Satellite Radio really became apparent when I connected it up in my car. I really enjoyed the fact that I could tune into one radio station at the beginning of my trip, and still be listening to the same station several hours, and hundreds of miles later. My personal favorite was that it allowed me to catch all of the NFL games in their entirety, regardless of where I was travelling.
Because of the bulkiness of this radio and docking station, I had a hard time finding a way to mount the "Car Kit" inside my vehicle, so I ended up needing to purchase a special suction cup mount to hang it from my windshield. I had a couple of different options to connect the car kit to my stereo, including the built in FM transmitter, or a by using an adapter to connect it through the tape deck. I tried both of them, but settled on the tape adapter due to the better sound quality it offered. I found that the FM transmitter seemed to suffer from interference due to the local radio stations, and this seemed to cause a lot of static.
Similar to what I noticed in my apartment, the music sounded somewhat "compressed" when compared to my normal car stereo, but this was not as noticeable because of the wind and road noise that were present while driving. Surprisingly, I found that the wireless remote was extremely useful inside my car, despite the fact that I was sitting only 2 feet away from the radio. This is because once I became familiar with the feel of the buttons, the remote allowed me to change the radio station without taking my eyes off the road.
Overall, I used my radio inside my home and car for about a year, until either the antenna wire or the antenna connection inside the car kit began to fail, causing me to lose my satellite reception far too often. About that same time, my subscription was ending too, so I decided not to renew it. While it was working, though, I was quite pleased with this radio both at home and away. If you don't need the latest, greatest, or smallest satellite radio available, the Audiovox SIR-PNP2 might be a nice model to consider.