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Sirius Sportster4 now available

Sirius Sportster4 now available

The latest Sirius plug-and-play satellite radio, the Sportster4, is now available. This update to the Sportster Replay model carries a list price of $170. It's a plug-and-play Sirius model, which means the diminutive head unit goes where you do. It ships with a car kit for mounting in your vehicle, and other compatible receptacles--the SUPH1 Home Kit and additional SUPV1 Car Kits--are available for $50 each. Sirius is also promising a boombox attachment later in 2006.

Like all plug-and-play models, the Sportster4 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 only a single-subscription price of $13 per month. Unlike last year's model, the Sportster4 is smaller and sleeker, and its docking cradle includes a line-in jack, so you can attach an iPod or MP3 player as well. Otherwise, the features are all but identical: The unit has a TiVo-style buffer that lets you rewind as much as 44 minutes of audio, so you can always replay that favorite song. 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. And per its sporty name, the Sportster will notify you when your favorite teams are playing and update you on scores.

While the Sirius Sportster4 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 recorded 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 you might require to listen to the Sportster away from your car.

While plug-and-play models such as the Sportster4 aren't nearly as cool as the latest iPod-like XM2go portables, they also cost a lot less. The Sirius Sportster4 isn't a cutting-edge satellite radio, but it's an affordable transportable entry-level option for sports aficionados--and Howard Stern fans.