The XM Pass plug-and-play satellite radio tuner unveiled at January's Consumer Electronics Show will begin shipping later this summer. The minireceiver--just 1.3 inches wide by 1.65 inches long by 0.44 inch deep--will retail for $30. As with any XM tuner, the XM Pass, formerly known as the XM Passport, requires a $13-per-month XM satellite radio subscription. But unlike stand-alone satellite radios (or even svelte XM portables such as the Pioneer Inno and the ), the XM Pass will eventually let you transfer that single subscription between a variety of compatible devices.
It's a great idea--listen in your car, at home, or on a portable, and just carry the tiny CompactFlash-size card in your pocket--but you'll have to wait until late 2006 or early 2007 for a wider variety of compatible products to become available. For now, only the Samsung Nexus includes an XM Pass module--but it plugs into the player's car- or home-docking kit, which is why the Nexus can't receive live satellite broadcasts when it's undocked. In the meantime, Audiovox will sell home and car XM Pass docking stations for $30 apiece. The home version replaces the venerable , so it's backward-compatible with any of the dozens of XM-ready products already on the market. But by this time next year, don't be surprised to see a bevy of products--everything from portable DVD players and A/V receivers to boomboxes and car stereos--that have an XM Pass slot.