Music can be such an important part of any road trip, and not just on the long drive, but also when you finally reach your destination. Whether it be in your home, cottage, hotel or even a camp site, these three docks can play back your satellite radio content with ease.
Sirius Synergi Internet Radio
- Available at: Future Shop, Best Buy, The Source, Costco, Visions Electronics, Stereo Plus
The Synergi is a classic example of a portable unit that fits right in at home or at the cottage. Existing Sirius subscribers can listen to 100 channels of content (Howard Stern included), plus tens of thousands of Internet radio stations from around the world.
The unit has an Ethernet port in the back, and is also Wi-Fi-enabled, with a built-in receiver to pull in the satellite radio feed. Setup is a simple five-minute process. There are 10 presets that can be programmed, both for satellite and Internet radio channels. And in cases where there is no Internet connection, you can plug in a portable media player or smartphone into the auxiliary jack to playback music that way. Or you can use your iPhone or Android phone as a Wi-Fi hot spot for the unit to tap into.
Sound quality is great for a smallish unit, and it should prove more than good enough for small gatherings. It's just a shame it can't work on batteries alone.
XM Universal Boombox
- Available at: Future Shop, Best Buy, The Source, XMradio.ca, Satellite Radio Source
This unit is sort of like a hybrid in that it is compatible with most Sirius and XM portable dock-and-play radios. It's similar in design to the Synergi, except this one is designed to be a complement to your satellite radio dock in the car. All you have to do is take the player off its base in the car, and plug it into the Boombox.
That's the easy part because it doesn't require you to really set anything up. It's pretty much just plug and play. In the back, there is a storage area ideal for keeping the power cable away. There's also an auxiliary jack for playing back audio from media players, smartphones and even laptops.
The great thing is that you can use this cord-free with eight C-cell batteries. Since there is no Wi-Fi element here, the Boombox needs to be placed with line of sight to the sky, somewhat limiting the portability of the unit. Sound quality is pretty solid, but it also depends on the genre of music.
Eton Soulra XL
- Available at: Apple Store online, EtonCorp.com
This unit is akin to what a boom-box might have been in the 1980s, mainly because it has the flexibility of being portable and self-sufficient – it even comes with a shoulder strap. Though it does have a built-in battery that can be charged through an outlet, its 72-square-inch solar panel can fill up the battery itself after facing five hours of direct sunlight.
Being an iPhone and iPod dock, the Soulra XL essentially plays anything those devices can play. Now that Sirius has updated its iPhone/iPod app to allow for multitasking, you can playback Sirius or XM audio using their respective apps without interruption, so long as you have a data connection. The included auxiliary port means that the same applies to the apps on Android, BlackBerry and other platforms as well. Even plugging in the portable XMp3 player works just fine.
That said, the sound quality isn't going to blow you away. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's not balanced enough, particularly with the bass. Still, for something to be used primarily outdoors, it does a fine job in every other respect.