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Cambridge SoundWorks PlayDockXM review: Cambridge SoundWorks PlayDockXM

The Good Rich, full sound; wide setting for better stereo effect; rechargeable battery.

The Bad Awfully heavy for a portable; no AM/FM radio or CD player; steep price given its limited feature set.

The Bottom Line The PlayDockXM adds some serious power--and a semiportable form factor--to the XM Roady series of satellite radios.

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5.0 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 4
  • Performance 7

Cambridge SoundWorks PlayDockXM

Satellite radio receivers are generally confined to three form factors: car radios, stationary home receivers, and boomboxes. The problem with the few boombox models already on the market is that they aren't really that easy to tote around, thanks to a combination of their size, weight, and the necessity of a long satellite radio antenna. Rather than focus on a lighter, more portable satellite receiver, Cambridge SoundWorks decided to go the other way with its $199 PlayDockXM. Not only is this luggable model bigger and heavier than its competitors, it also offers a more heavy-duty sound.

Rejecting the traditional boombox shape of models such as the Delphi SkyFi Audio System , Cambridge SoundWorks has opted for a design that's more reminiscent of a rounded-off subwoofer. While it appears to be only one speaker, the PlayDockXM actually houses two 7-watt stereo speakers and a 15-watt bass speaker. It has buttons for volume, mute, and an optional "wide" speaker effect on the top. The power button is tucked around the side. A built-in handle lets you carry it--but at 13.5 pounds, it's a workout.

The PlayDockXM requires either a Delphi Roady or Roady2 receiver (purchased separately) to work. (Cambridge also makes a sibling PlayDock model that's compatible with certain Creative Labs MP3 players.) A pair of interchangeable rubberized cradles is included to snugly hold either model on top of the PlayDock. These gloves are a flexible solution to adapting the speaker for different players, but they look a bit flimsy sitting on top of the otherwise sturdy PlayDockXM. The unit also comes with its own 20-foot satellite antenna.

The PlayDockXM isn't loaded with features, but it does have one trick worth noting: a built-in rechargeable battery that powers the speakers and the attached Roady or Roady2. The company says it will last for 10 hours at low volume, but we got 13 hours of continuous play in our testing. At a moderate volume, you should get at least 8 hours.

Unlike the Delphi CD Audio System (a boombox attachment for the Delphi XM SkyFi Radio), the PlayDockXM lacks a CD player or a standard AM/FM radio. That means your $199 gets you all the music you want to listen to--as long as it's on XM.

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