MarksFriggin Review of Sirius Satellite Part 2 - 04/25/2005
I recently got another good deal on a Sirius tuner. This time I got one of their newest units, the Starmate, that I've had my eye on for a couple of months now. This Starmate unit is much smaller than the first unit I reviewed in 2004. It also kind of matches the interior of my car (Mazda 6) so I figured it would look good in there. Turns out I was right even though the unit is kind of hidden in the dashboard of my car. There's a storage bin in the top of my dash that the Starmate fit perfectly in. The lid closes so I can hide the unit from anyone who might be thinking of stealing it. Installation was fairly easy. I was able to keep the antenna inside the car because the rear window has a fairly steep angle so the signal can still get through. I ran the cable under the trim in the vehicle and right up through the dash. The cigarette lighter power was also run through the dash and into a secondary lighter that's inside the armrest of my car. Everything worked out great for this installation. I liked out with it. I'm sure that others won't find it so easy. There are many installation options for this unit because it doesn't need a docking cradle. The unit comes with a suction cup windshield mount.
The Starmate isn't perfect. It's very small which is great for installing it in your car, but that also means that the display is kind of small. Not only that but the display is very hard to read in daylight. Even hidden under the cover of the storage bin in my car the display gets washed out in daylight. At night it's just fine and matches the red glow of my dashboard. Channel changing is made easy with a toggle switch on the right side of the unit. Just a quick flip knocks the station up or down one. That comes in handy for me since Octane (channel 20) and Alt Nation (channel 21) are the two stations I listen to most. There are also some small preset buttons that allow you to save your favorite stations on. Once again, the unit is small so the buttons are also kind of small. This makes it kind of hard for me to use due to the odd location of the unit within that storage bin. The remote doesn't work very well with my setup either because the Infrared receiver is on the bottom, right corner of the unit. This is not fault of the unit, it's just a problem with my current setup. The unit isn't mounted in a very secure way so that doesn't help matters either. I may have to modify my current set up to make things easier.
So far I'm very happy with this new Starmate tuner. The FM modulator works just fine in my car. The audio quality is okay and it makes it easy to install since only 2 cables are needed. One for the antenna and one for power. Taking it out of the car is as easy as unhooking the two cables and pulling it out of it's home-made Velcro mounting system that I created. The unit can then be hooked up to my home stereo using cables from my other unit since I didn't buy the ''Home'' kit for this one. I don't have any real complaints about the unit, other than the fact that the display is hard to read in daylight. Other than that, this thing rocks. Ever since Howard's station in New York City changed format, I've been listening to more Sirius radio. I can't wait for Howard to make the big move.
UPDATE - 08/11/05 - I liked this tuner so much that I bought a second one to replace the Audiovox SIRPNP2 that I purchased last year. That one was in my wife's car and it was so friggin big and bulky that the windshield mount could barely hold it up. The Starmate is smaller, lighter and doesn't need a docking cradle. It was only in her car for about 12 hours and she already said she loves it. Now the Audiovox is sitting by my home stereo system where it should be.
Price a Sirius Starmate at Amazon.com.
Get the full line up of channels (Adobe Acrobat reader required) at Sirius.com/pdf/channelguide.pdf
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