Sirius S50 review: Sirius S50


The Sirius S50's screen is bright, colorful, and informative. Notice the button-free face of the player. All buttons reside on either side of the player and can be a hassle to use.

Getting automatically recorded content requires having your Sirius S50 on and docked; if you have only a car connection, you must record content while driving and listening. We loved leaving it on at night with the home dock, then getting hours of fresh new content in the morning, but that requires an extra purchase. You can also set timed recordings on the S50, as long as it's connected to a dock. Recordings can't be longer than two hours--another irritating limitation.

When you're using the S50 away from a dock, you have the option of listening to three types of recordings: songs manually added, scheduled Sirius recordings, or favorite-channel recordings that the player creates by itself. You can listen to anything on the go except live content. If you want that, look to the Delphi MyFi XM2Go or the Pioneer AirWare XM2Go , which both work with competitor XM Satellite Radio.

The Sirius S50 comes with a one-year limited warranty. The Web site list a toll-free number and has an e-mail form for customer care.

Using the Sirius S50's controls can be awkward since the right-side buttons take care of different tasks depending on which menu you're in. We never quite got the hang of them, often having to go back and select the correct item the second time. The sound quality is surprisingly good for recorded, highly compressed content, and the included earbuds don't look like much but provide a well-rounded sound, with good clarity and enough bass.

The S50's biggest drawback is its battery life, which is a big minus if you use it as a portable player. It's rated for a low 6 hours of battery life, but we got only 4 hours, 15 minutes of use playing Sirius recorded content with the screen dark the whole time. That's way too short when you have 50 hours of music to get through. In our opinion, a portable device should get 12 hours just to get into the average range. If you can't listen to it all day undocked, it's not much of a portable.

The battery is replaceable, although Sirius doesn't currently sell spares. Look for them to become available in the near future.

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