The $330 Sirius S50 is a handy device for discovering new music. It blends an in-car satellite radio dock with a removable iPod-like player that can store up to 50 hours of audio in its 1GB of flash memory.
I liked the hybrid's quirky assortment of features, but its inability to receive a signal away from the dock may deter some potential buyers (the unit also requires a $13 monthly subscription to the Sirius service).
I took the shipping S50 for a spin after installing the antenna on my car's roof and hooking up the docking cradle inside the vehicle (some wires dangled from the dash). The S50's built-in FM transmitter let me listen through my car stereo, and the remote control made locating my favorite station easy; I selected the station as one of three My Sirius Channels, which the device then recorded as I listened.
When I left the car, I took the sleek black player along. Because the tuner is built into the cradle, I couldn't receive live radio, but with the included earbuds I could listen to several hours of music that the S50 had recorded while I was driving. To save a tune, I simply pressed the 'Love' button to put it in a playlist.
How It Works at Home
At home, I used the My Sirius Studio software to upload my own MP3 and WMA files to the player via USB cable. The software doesn't let you download recordings of Sirius programs to a PC, but it does deliver Sirius music stations over the Internet.
The Sirius S50 is a little pricey, especially if you add the optional $100 Home Dock for connecting the player to your PC speakers or stereo system. But having a steady stream of new music I could record and take with me anywhere was certainly enjoyable.