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That's just the beginning, though, because you'll still need to purchase the car or home adapter kit, or one of the two boombox attachments (with or without CD), to hear anything. On the upside, few other units offer a boombox option, and any kit that works with the original SkyFi will also work with SkyFi2. On the downside, the XM subscription will run you another $12.95 per month. Currently XM supplies 68 commercial-free music channels, 55 news and sports channels, and numerous local weather/traffic channels.
The SkyFi2 receiver is a little thing (4.6 inches wide, 2.9 inches high, and 1.25 inches deep) that weighs next to nothing, a mere 5.2 ounces. We found the front-panel buttons a bit crowded, but happily the unit comes with a small remote that duplicates all of the controls. Connectivity options are standard for play-anywhere satellite radios, meaning that the receiver itself must be plugged into an adapter kit to be of use. The cradle that comes with the home adapter kit has an antenna jack, 3.5mm ministereo jack stereo audio outputs, and a power jack for use with the wall-wart power supply. A XM antenna is also included with the kit.
The SkyFi2's coolest new feature, 30-Minute Replay, works like a TiVo for XM Radio. It lets you time-travel back up to half an hour, song by song, and listen again to what you just heard. You can also pause a song in midplayback, and when you're done, you can fast-forward to return to the current program. The screen flashes "Live" to confirm you're back in real time. We found the replay feature of limited use since we usually didn't want to hear the same song again so soon but were more inclined to the pause function--no more missed songs when fielding phone calls, for instance.
In another improvement over the old SkyFi, the SkyFi2 allows you to wirelessly transmit XM radio signals to any FM radio in the room or to the FM receiver in your car stereo. The unit can also store up to 30 XM channels as presets, as well as flash sports scores and stock price ticker info across the screen.
We compared the SkyFi2 with the original SkyFi and immediately noted the new model's higher volume level. That's nice; most folks thought the original wasn't loud enough. As we switched back and forth between the two models, we noted the SkyFi2 sounded a tiny bit more detailed and had slightly wider stereo separation. The talk channels' sound quality varied, but the better ones, such as XM's new public radio channel, sounded almost as good as the music channels.
At $100, the bevy of subtle and substantive improvements makes the SkyFi2 an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a versatile and semiportable XM radio. That goes double if you already have one or more of the compatible adapters for the original SkyFi. If the rewind function is appealing--and you're looking for a more portable solution with bundled accessories--consider instead upgrading to Delphi's $350 XM MyFi.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.