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Xact Rego XTR5

Xact Rego XTR5

Last autumn, Delphi released the groundbreaking MyFi, the first truly portable Walkman-style satellite radio. In addition to its innate portability, the XM-compatible MyFi included another feature that set it apart from its satellite brethren: a five-hour flash memory buffer that allowed you to prerecord your favorite shows, TiVo-style. At the time, the only portable competition compatible with rival satcaster Sirius was the Xact XTR1 Stream Jockey, an underpowered challenger that needed a bulky battery/antenna cradle to travel. Thankfully, Xact and Sirius went back to the drawing board. Not only does the new Rego XTR5 correct the most egregious design and feature miscues of its predecessors, it doubles as a full-on MP3 player. The XTR5 is scheduled to be available in early June with a list price of $279.

Upside: The Rego XTR5 includes the ability to record your favorite satcasts on the device's built-in flash memory, though its four-hour recording limit is 20 percent less than the MyFi's. In addition to being able to time-shift your favorite show or sporting event, the buffered recordings extend the Rego's reach into areas the satellite signal can't reach, such as the subway. Moreover, the Rego includes at least one key feature that was sorely lacking on the MyFi: MP3 support. At the click of a button, the Rego can toggle from live or recorded satellite audio to your favorite tunes. The Rego accepts MicroSD cards in sizes as large as 1GB, which should be good for as long as 16 hours of MP3 music--but it's up to you to supply your own memory card.

Downside: Unfortunately, the XTR5 lacks the all-in-one portability of the MyFi. It ships with a car kit, but to use it outside of your automobile, you'll need to invest another $100 in the XS043 Wearable Kit, which adds a snap-on rechargeable battery and an AC adapter. Most distressing, though, are the kit's bulky headphones, which include an integrated satellite antenna. In addition to the extra heft, the built-in antenna would appear to preclude the possibility of using your preferred headphones with the Rego--at least when listening to live satellite radio. And--as with all satellite radio devices--you'll also need to shell out a monthly subscription fee which will run you $13 a month.

Outlook: The MyFi lacks MP3 support, but the groundbreaking device offers live and cached satellite radio in a truly portable form factor. It debuted with a hefty $350 price tag (which has since fallen dramatically), but it includes all the accessories you need for portable, home, and car use. The Rego XTR5 lets you play your own MP3s, but it requires at least two accessories--the XS043 Wearable Kit and a MicroSD card--to take advantage of its full capabilities. And unlike the MyFi, the Rego appears likely to lock you into one headphone choice. Nevertheless, the Xact model has at least one killer app you won't find on the MyFi: it'll be able to receive Howard Stern's new Sirius-only radio show once it starts in January 2006, as well as exclusive coverage of NBA, NFL, NCAA basketball, and starting in 2007, NASCAR events. (Check out our satellite radio guide to see how Sirius and XM stack up against one another.) Look for the full CNET review of the Xact Rego XTR5 soon.

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