The speakers offer 20 watts of power each, while the subwoofer pumps out 50 watts. The left and right speakers are larger than most PC-style models, but they are magnetically shielded, so they won't interfere with monitors or televisions. The subwoofer isn't shielded, but its omnidirectional nature means you can place it anywhere without adversely affecting sound quality. The dock has a volume knob and two buttons for bass and treble. Press either the bass or the treble button, and the volume knob will temporarily control that setting--it reverts to volume control after a few seconds of inactivity.
The included remote is especially small and has only five buttons: one each for treble, bass, and standby, and two for volume. Unfortunately, the remote controls only the speaker system, which means you'll still have to get up to change the channel on the Roady itself. (The Roady Home Kit includes a remote; Delphi also sells a remote separately for $20.)
The MX5021 doesn't offer other stereo functions, such as an AM/FM tuner, but it's a little more versatile that a satellite-radio system alone. It comes with two cables, one of which lets you plug in any portable device with a standard headphone jack, such as an iPod. The other is a Y-cable that lets you attach any standard A/V component with RCA jacks, for example, a gaming system or a VCR. There's also a headphone jack for late-night listening.
We were happy with the MX5021's sound quality, which was rich enough to fill a large room without distortion even when we cranked the volume. If you're a serious XM radio fan, though, you should consider investing in aand pairing with a high-end receiver/speaker combo.
Is the $200 MX5021 a must-have for the Roady fanatic? The aforementioned Roady Home Kit will handle home hookups to existing stereo systems for much less. But a better comparison to Altec's offering would be the identically priced. The PlayDock offers luggable, all-in-one portability and a rechargeable battery. But if you want to get your Roady a homebound listening rig that can also handle a second audio source, the MX5021 is a viable alternative.