The XpressR is Audiovox's top-of-the-line XM Satellite Radio receiver, providing a plethora of customizable settings not offered in entry-level units such as the Xpress and Xpress EZ. The two main features that distinguish the XpressR from the competition are a split-screen display that allows artist and channel information to be displayed side-by-side, and a 30-minute recording buffer that lets users pause and review broadcasts. The retail price of $129 will likely scare away XM newcomers, but for existing users looking to take their XM experience to the next level, the XpressR is a logical choice.
The Audiovox XpressR is one of the more attractive XM radio receivers we've come across. Removed from its dock, the XpressR measures a slender 4.5 inches by 2.5 inches by 0.5 inch and sports a glossy black finish with silver plastic preset buttons. The high-contrast, monochromatic screen measures 2.5 inches by 1.25 inches and presents large, legible text on a clean, uncluttered interface.
One of our favorite design features on the XpressR is the multifunction navigation control. The solidly constructed control works as an incremental dial for scrolling menus, a four-way joystick for switching between stations, and a push-button that acts as an enter key. Surrounding this main navigation control are dedicated buttons for power, info, and menu, as well as play/pause and scan controls for the 30-minute automatic recording buffer.
While the XpressR could easily rest on its good looks, the receiver's features are what set it apart from the herd. To start with, the XpressR offers four display modes that can be easily toggled among. The first two display modes offer a typical XM radio readout (track and channel information) using either a large or regular font size. The third display mode shows a split display that allows you to see information on the current channel on the left side of the screen, while browsing channel listings on the right side of the screen. The last display mode also splits the screen, simultaneously showing the currently playing channel and previously played channel, providing a means to visually monitor what's playing on two channels at once. We found the split screen displays to be very effective at allowing you to juggle stations, but with so much information presented on one screen, we would hesitate using the feature while driving.
If you're wondering why Audiovox tacked an "R" onto the end of this product's name, it's because the XpressR includes a 30-minute recording buffer that allows you to pause and replay live broadcasting. The recording buffer resets each time you turn off the device, but it's a great way to pause talk shows while you're pulling into a toll booth, or for replaying your favorite songs.
The XpressR also offers common features like station presets (up to 30), a stock and sports ticker, and a TuneSelect function that alerts you whenever a favorite artist or song is being played on another station. If you're interested in using the XpressR both in the car and at home, the universal plug-and-play dock makes it easy to swap the receiver between systems. A remote control is also included, although its usefulness for in-car use is debatable.
While it's recommended that you get your XM receiver professionally installed in your car, the XpressR does come with a handful of accessories and adapters that will allow you to use the system right out of the box. If you can't get the XpressR up and running using the included cigarette lighter power adapter, cassette audio adapter, adhesive mount, or fan grill mount, Audiovox offers additional adapters for a price. If you're looking to use the XpressR at home, you'll need to purchase a separate Audiovox Universal Home kit in order to power and dock the receiver. We were disappointed that despite its high-end price, the XpressR does not include a functional FM transmitter for wirelessly transmitting audio to an existing in-car radio. For an extra $20, Audiovox does sell an FM transmitter attachment.
While XM radio certainly offers a step up in audio quality from standard FM radio, it still presents some audible digital fluttering common to all streaming digital audio. If you're listening to the XpressR in a compromised listening environment (such as a car) the audio quality should be more than adequate.
We tested the reception around San Francisco and Oakland and never found ourselves without a signal. An antenna-aiming utility is built into the XpressR's menu, giving visual feedback of satellite and terrestrial signal strength.
We ran into some trouble using the included cassette audio adapter in our car. Out of the two possible ways to orient the adapter into our cassette deck, one method seemed to immediately eject the adapter, and the other had our cassette deck continually switching playback directions back and forth. A third-party cassette adapter we had lying around worked just fine. Because cassette deck sensitivity can vary wildly from car to car, your results may vary.
The Audiovox XpressR is a classy-looking XM radio receiver with an outstanding user interface and a 30-minute recording buffer. Compared to entry-level systems such as the Xpress and Xpress EZ, the XpressR is a delight for the type of user who loves customizing and tweaking their gadgets. We recommend paying the extra money to get the system professionally installed; otherwise you'll be burdened with unattractive cables running all around your dashboard.