If satellite radio has a corner on any market, it's in the car; and with the increasingly narrow selection offered by terrestrial radio in many areas, it's no wonder. But for those who want to listen to Sirius or XM at the gym, in the train, or on the streets, the selection is a bit more limited, namely because many portable receivers aren't as adept at picking up satellite signals because of the small size of the units, and thus, their antennas. With the XMP3 for XM, Pioneer aims to offer the most compact device while still retaining reasonable reception. For on-the-go use, the $279 device fairs well, but it doesn't hold a signal as well as an in-car unit with an extended antenna. Still, the recording features are well-implemented and the memory-expansion slot supports high-capacity cards--both big pluses for a satellite radio receiver.
The Pionner XMP3 is the smallest and lightest portable satellite radio receiver we've had our hands on. It measures just 3.6 inches tall, 2 inches wide, and 0.6 inch deep and weights a scant 3.1 ounces. Although it's constructed mainly of plastic, the device feels well-constructed and has a certain understated design appeal with its stubby antenna and nice 2.5-inch color screen. Below the display are four dedicated buttons--back, menu, keypad (for manually entering a station number), and options--and a mechanical, rocking scroll wheel that serves to navigate among menu options and XM stations as well as record station content and scrub through tracks and play/pause in MP3 mode. A dedicated volume rocker, a power/hold switch, and a mini USB port deck out the sides of the player. The mini USB is used for syncing only; Pioneer includes a wall-wart adapter for power. The power jack and a docking port take up the bottom side of the device; a standard headphone jack as well as a microSD-card slot for memory expansion take up the space next to the antenna.