Since the debut of the Sirius S50 last fall, XM Satellite Radio has been behind the eight ball, lacking a combo satellite-radio receiver and digital music player for those who want to listen on the go. Enter Samsung's Nexus family of player radios, which, along with the company's Helix, is equal parts digital music and satellite radio. Like the S50, the Samsung Nexus YP-X5 can play your digital music, but you can tune into satellite programming only when the unit is in its dock, which would most likely be located in the car or your home. Small, light, and a relative bargain, the Nexus holds merely 1GB of music and is Windows compatible only, and it can play audio for just a bit more than 7 hours per charge. Since you can't listen to live XM radio on the Nexus without the dock, it's not the right product for those looking for ultimate portability (see the Helix). But those who spend time in their cars should definitely take a look and listen.
While it lacks Sirius's cute little doggie logo, Samsung's Nexus is a small wonder that puts the S50 to shame. With dimensions of 3.3 by 1.8 by 0.7 inches, the Nexus is smaller than the S50, and at just 2.6 ounces, it weighs half as much. What you give up is the S50's larger color screen; the Nexus has a 1.6-inch blue-monochrome display that is functional and readable. We applaud the S50's clean look and lack of switches on its face, but the silver and black Nexus has a more practical design, with well-placed volume-up and volume-down buttons, pause/play buttons, and a four-way navigation control. It also has a switch at the top for on, off, and hold.
The 1GB Samsung Nexus 50 sells for $269, while the 512MB Nexus 25 is priced at $219. The comparison with the S50 becomes complicated because the Nexus ships with a desk dock, an antenna, an AC adapter, a remote control, cables, a belt clip, and earbuds, but it lacks the car installation kit that the S50 includes; the S50 does without the desk dock. Samsung sells a car kit for $70, and Sirius has a home kit for $100. The bottom line is that the Nexus sells for about $50 less than the S50. However, if you buy a satellite radio for the programming, XM is currently the leader--both in subscriber base and content choices--with 170 channels of programming, from a variety of music genres to Bob Dylan's reincarnation as a disk jockey to most Major League Baseball games. Sirius counters with 125 channels, which include an equally diverse assortment of music, Howard Stern, and NBA and NHL games; both require subscriptions for programming that run $12.95 a month.
While we prefer to have live radio, the Samsung Nexus's dock-and-record system is second best and well worth it, considering its size and weight. You can either listen to on-air programming via the dock's line-out jack or pick when and which channel to record, and the device does the rest, regardless of whether it's the BBC overnight news, XM Kids, or the network's uncensored comedy routines. Recording a few hours of a channel is the perfect way to reacquaint yourself with the classics or introduce yourself to new music. While both buffer the audio stream enough to capture entire songs, neither can tap into podcasts directly.