The Delphi Roady XT is the smallest and lightest XM satellite radio you can buy. The catch is that it has a plug-and-play design and must be used with an XM boombox or a car- or home-docking station. You can purchase the radio through XM Radio's online store for $80, but it typically goes for less elsewhere after a subscription-based rebate. A $13-a-month fee is required to access XM Satellite Radio's programming.
Sirius Satellite Radio has Howard Stern, but XM's resident shock jocks, Opie and Anthony, are awfully funny and equally uncensored. (XM used to charge extra for Opie and Anthony, but the show is now free.) XM is continuously adding channels, which at last count numbered 160, including 65 commercial-free music stations. The programming choices on XM have grown more adventurous lately, and XM's music channels tend to have less DJ chatter and fewer interruptions than Sirius's.
As we mentioned earlier, the Delphi Roady XT is incredibly tiny. It measures just 3.7 inches wide, 2.25 inches high, and 0.615 inch deep, and weighs 2.8 ounces. You can choose from seven dazzling backlit colors for the large display that dominates the front panel. The front panel squeezes in useful controls, including 10 buttons for direct access to XM's channels; you can store up to 30 presets. The Roady XT comes with a car installation kit; for home use, you'll need the Delphi SA10176 Roady XT Home Kit ($50), which includes everything you need to hook up the Roady XT to an A/V receiver or any other audio system with line-in jacks or an FM radio. We had the Roady XT up and running in a matter of minutes. The miniremote is easy to use, even for clumsy-fingered listeners like us.
The Delphi Roady XT's built-in FM transmitter can broadcast XM channels to any nearby FM radio within 15 or 20 feet. That's a nice feature, especially for cars, but at-home FM fidelity can't match that of a Roady XT wired hookup.
The Delphi Roady XT's sound quality isn't up to CD or even FM-radio standards, but in terms of stereo separation and clarity of treble detail, it was a little better than that of the home unit we had on hand. As tested in Brooklyn, New York, XM reception was dropout-free and dead quiet, without the background hiss that always accompanies FM radio.
XM Radio listeners can choose from a wide range of audio products, including dedicated home units such as the magnificent , XM-ready home-audio components such as the Denon AVR-3806, and a forthcoming line of MP3/XM portables such as the Pioneer Inno. But the Roady XT is a great choice if you need the flexible transportability of a plug-and-play XM satellite radio--one subscription, multiple listening venues--at a very affordable price.