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Beam me down music

Satellite radio is definitely in my future.

Well, I’m finally doing it. I’m joining the urban-sprawl generation and moving out to the country. Actually, it’s a small town about 45 minutes from work on the interstate (sans traffic). But it’s a far cry from my present digs, which are 30 minutes away door to door via local streets. Everything about the move has me psyched–less noise, light, and air pollution; more parks and recreation opportunities; cheaper living. Everything, that is, except the commute. On average, I’ll be spending an extra hour on the roads daily. I’m already deep in the planning stages to help me pass the time pleasantly.

Because I’m not a fan of trying to make a commute a productive experience for safety reasons, most of my research revolves around the stereo system. Local radio is pathetic for this kind of trip. On my way home, I will be out of range for most of the stations I listen to with 20 minutes of drive time left. And I find myself tuning in to the local public radio station almost exclusively despite my need for variety. Why? Because radio has become over saturated with ads. Check out most stations and you will find more air time devoted to ads than content in any given hour.

Fortunately, the solution to both these problems is available now. For about a $300 up-front investment and a $10-per-month subscription fee, I can get 100 channels of digital satellite radio beamed to my car, about 50 of which are commercial-free. Not only will the sound quality blow local radio away, but I will have 15 genres of music and several top-quality information channels to choose from. No longer will I be subject to a couple of dozen artists no matter what commercial radio station I tune to. And if I do want to tune in to a ball game or a local news program, I will have that choice as well, via AM or FM.

The down sides right now include XM’s long-term viability and vendor lock-in. Remember cable radio? It was supposed to replace standard radio with digital sound to home stereos everywhere. How many people do you know who hooked cable radio to their stereos? Despite the fact that I think XM is here to stay, investors have been tough on the new company. It recently had to make a third public offering to raise the money it needs to keep growing toward profitability. This is a danger sign that XM is not out of the woods yet. If it does fail, I’m stuck with proprietary equipment that I can take right down to the recycling center. A competing service from Sirius seems less attractive than XM at this time, but might end up beating XM in the long run.

These are risks I’m willing to take to enhance my commute. But if you’re in a similar position and you are not inclined toward early adoption, you might need to check out

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