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The Clarion's design, though, is certainly not innovative. For some reason, the Delphi XM SkyFi set the standard for what satellite receivers should look like, and followers have varied in only the slightest ways (a few shifted buttons here and there). The Clarion is a nicely compact unit, though, a bit smaller than the SkyFi and noticeably smaller than the Audiovox SIRPNP2. We wish the Clarion had the Audiovox's jumbo screen, however; its cramped LCD is the unit's only failing. Clarion includes a well-designed remote.
Like other plug-and-play units, the SIRPNP can be used in either the home or the car and requires a dock to work in either place. Unlike models such as Delphi's Roady2, Clarion charges extra for the car dock. We found compatible docks, including the SIRHM for the home and the SIRCR for the car, online for around $50.
The Clarion offers all the features a satellite radio fan would expect, and a few new ones as well. We like that the receiver has 30 spots for station presets (divided into three bands with 10 presets in each), which is more than most of its competitors. Like other receivers, it easily lets you browse channels or categories and save the artist and title information of your favorite songs as memos.
We love the unique notification system, which lets you know whenever one of your memory songs is being played on any of Sirius's stations. Sure, it's not as strong as the notifications of the now-defunct XM PCR, but that receiver has the benefit of a PC interface. This is a great tool in a plug-and-play unit.
Other handy features include a sleep timer, an alert system that lets you know when your favorite programs come on, and parental control options for blocking stations. The Clarion also has a built-in FM transmitter option for use with the car docking station, letting you wirelessly connect your receiver to your car radio.
The Clarion performed beautifully in our testing, tuning in stations well and producing a rich sound. Learning the controls will take a few minutes, but it's worth investing the time since the Clarion offers more features than many other receivers. Sirius may be playing catch-up in terms of subscribers and hardware, but with products such as the Clarion SIRPNP, it's on the right track.
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