Sony DRN-XM01C Satellite Radio Receiver review: Sony DRN-XM01C Satellite Radio Receiver

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good

Average User Rating

4 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Better variety than terrestrial radio; good sound quality; displays song information.

The Bad Unreasonably expensive; confusing controls; no easy way to flip between stations.

The Bottom Line After sampling the lineup at fledgling XM Radio, we want to hear more, but we don't want to hear it on this poorly designed first-generation receiver.

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Traditional radio has become decidedly less interesting in the past several years, as big companies gobble up more and more stations, replacing quirky formats with bottom-line moneymakers. Internet radio satisfies some listeners' craving for variety but requires a PC. XM Radio, the first digital satellite radio service, delivers the most variety and best sound quality currently available on broadcast radio--all for $10 per month. Most XM devices are for use within a car, but the Sony DRN-XM01C delivers the service's 100 channels to home stereos across the land. We just wish that the hardware were a little more impressive for the price. Traditional radio has become decidedly less interesting in the past several years, as big companies gobble up more and more stations, replacing quirky formats with bottom-line moneymakers. Internet radio satisfies some listeners' craving for variety but requires a PC. XM Radio, the first digital satellite radio service, delivers the most variety and best sound quality currently available on broadcast radio--all for $10 per month. Most XM devices are for use within a car, but the Sony DRN-XM01C delivers the service's 100 channels to home stereos across the land. We just wish that the hardware were a little more impressive for the price.

Hardware blues
The Sony DRN-XM01C looks portable at 4.0 by 4.25 by 1.5 inches, but it's not--no portable battery is strong enough to power a satellite radio receiver at this point. Even if it were, you'd still have to carry around the satellite antenna with you. The device's controls are limited and awkward. Five preset buttons line the front, along with a backlight button for the display, which shows the song's name and artist. A Memo button makes a record of the songs that you like.

Unfortunately, there's no easy way to flip between stations; you'll need to use the multifunction jog dial on top of the box to get to any station that's not a preset. The problem lies in the fact that the jog dial controls too many functions. You use it to scroll through stations, station categories, or controller settings. Station scrolling must be done quickly--hesitate for too long, and the current station will take two or three seconds to load. You won't be able to change again until that channel has finished loading. Another gripe: The bundled remote doesn't have number keys. Even with the remote and the five presets, you'll need to scroll through each item on the list.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Sony DRN-XM01C Satellite Radio Receiver

Part Number: DRN-XM01C
Low Price: $144.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Built-in Display LCD
  • Color blue
  • Weight 7.8 oz
  • Type 1 year warranty
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Type satellite radio