Tuesday, December 20, 2005

XM Radio Arrived Today!

After discovering and pouncing on a sweet deal to receive a free XM Radio receiver, the receiver arrived today via FedEx.  I did not even hear the driver at all due to being occupied otherwise.

Earlier blog entries have not done the XM Radio service complete justice after experiencing what is on the other side of being a full and complete subscriber.

The box had the receiver encased within the industrial strength plastic that required a kitchen knife in order to free the receiver into my hands.  After making an initial cut, I ripped into it as if it was already Christmas morning.

The XM receiver ordered is the Roady XT.  The attachments were enclosed to connect the unit within a vehicle versus a home based unit which is exactly how we have planned to use it.  I am listening to the full XM lineup online while creating this entry.

As any red-bloodied American male, I did not look at the instructions on how to connect everything.  Everything was intuitive and the cables attached on each end of the unit.  The cradle to attach the unit to the air conditioning vent was simple to do as well.

The XM receiver first had to be activated in order to receive the full lineup of XM programming and this process could have been handled a little bit more smoothly.

My first call was handled well until the XM rep had a hard time understanding the radio ID of the unit received.  She initially said that it could not be activated and put me on hold and the nonactivation issue was resolved without any further pressing by myself.

You supposedly have to change channels up to 3 times in order to activate the unit or go online to activate the unit.  I was already driving at the time and did not want to wait until I returned home.

I picked up my oldest daughter Rachel from daycare and before leaving, read an enclosed letter a little that referenced the special offer received along with some activation instructions although I had already called XMMy unit is free by the way as long as 6 months of service are paid for.  Three (3) months were paid in advance to receive the special offer.  With the XM prepaid cards that already exist, subscribing to XM is far easier than any other tech service previously obtained.  T-Mobile, TiVo, and DirecTV could learn a few lessons as well.

After getting back on I-285 within early but heavy traffic, I called XM again and this time the call sounded as if it was being handled by the reps within India.  The female rep was insistent and short patience and after hearing some numbers through an indecipherable accent, I settled on saying goodbye and going back to techie instinct.

The not fully documented trick is that the XM units have to receive a signal from the satellite in space to fully activate the unit pretty much like subscribers of any other satellite service like DirecTV are familiar with.  Realizing this, I knew the current position within the car was not allowing the signal to be received. 

As much as I did not really want to, I was hesitant to stick one hand out of the window and risk dropping a brand new unit in rush hour traffic and then hearing customer service tell me politely that I was stupid.  My startup experiences with new technology have this built in Murphy's Law;)

But knowing that it was not going to be used much outside the car, I pointed the unit like a remote towards the southern sky and the activation kicked in.  This simple instruction needs to be added or made clear upfront.

Instantly, I was able to change channels at will and hear some songs that I have not heard in many years.  Immediately I felt like the BMW drivers in the commercials where they take the long way home:)

Hearing Radio Disney in full stereo versus the AM signal normally received while driving was interesting.  Rachel and Hailey easily knew whether they were listening to Radio Disney in the past and I doubt that they will as easily know in the future.

After arriving back home, I was interested to see if the receiver would work within the house without buying a home listening kit.

I tried my previously owned power adapters and immediately saw that it was not going to happen.  The home listening kit is needed for the power adapter at a minimum.

When I attempted to log in to the online XM site to hear the music this evening, the password assigned to me this afternoon did not work.  But I had already created an account to test drive the online experience this past weekend and the website allowed me to coordinate the test subscription to the receiver now in my possession.

This prevented an unnecessary phone call to correct the log in trouble.  I now believe that the first XM rep was internationally based as well.

After successfully logging in, I now see more channels than previously listed for online listening.  The XM experience is clearly a rich, entertaining, and educational one as well.

I am listening to the broadcast of music from Africa (Ngoma 114) and this channel is one of my online presets.  It will be a preset in our car as well.  Already I feel the rhythms of the Motherland calling me and awakening my musical pallete in ways never before experienced. 

I may make a trip to our post office box just to get an non distracted experience as well, but there is still a little rush hour traffic that I can do without.

I was surprised to see AOL Radio and various AOL properties being broadcast on XM as well although my earlier blog entry mentioned AOL being a nice backdoor to listen to XM.  I hope that podcasts are going to be added to the lineup somewhere somehow although it might lessen the podcast experience at this point, but I know that it is inevitable.

So our first 4 hours of full XM Radio subscription overall have been very cool although more experimentation will have to wait until tomorrow.

Now I know our upcoming drive of 5 hours to grandma's house with the kids will be more pleasurable;)

One new benefit is that I will be able to hear both new music and oldies without the hassles of multiple commercials!!!

Within another blog entry, I will write about the unique differences, advantages, and disadvantages between free broadcasts paid for by advertisers versus paid subscriptions versus multiple single content purchases (such as songs).



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