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Xact XTR2 (Sirius)

Xact XTR2 (Sirius)

The Sirius Xact XTR2 is an update of the company's original XTR1 model. The list price is $100, but this model can be found online for much less, especially if you can snag a mail-in rebate offer. It's a plug-and-play Sirius model, which means the head unit goes where you do. It ships with a car kit for mounting in your vehicle, but you can also buy other receptacles--a home kit (XS032) and a boombox (XS034)--for listening in other locations.

Upside: Like all plug-and-play models, the Xact XTR2 lets you listen to the dozens of Sirius satellite music, news, talk, and sports stations wherever you go (assuming you invest in suitable docking stations) while paying just a single-subscription price of $13 per month. It also includes an FM transmitter, so--rather than using a cassette adapter or a line-in port--you can hear your Sirius stations rebroadcast to any nearby FM radio. The XTR can store 18 channel presets.

Downside: The Xact XTR2 is a basic satellite radio--it's lacking the buffered memory for rewinding, recording, and playing back programming that you'll find on more advanced models. Furthermore, like all plug-and-play models, it needs to be mounted on the dashboard (using the included kit and stand) and powered by the cigarette lighter, which may mean too much clutter for some drivers. And while the XTR2 is transportable, it's not one of the new MP3-enabled portable units, such as the Sirius S50, that you can slide in your pocket to listen to prerecorded--but not live--satcasts. And if the low price seems too good to be true, remember that you'll need to factor in the monthly subscription, as well as any of the extra accessories that you might require to listen to the XTR2 away from your car.

Outlook: While the Sirius Xact XTR2 isn't a cutting-edge satellite radio, it's an affordable entry-level option for Howard Stern fans who are anxious to hear his new, uncensored, no-holds-barred show.

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