Delphi XM SKYFi2™ Satellite Radio Receiver with Vehicle Adapter Kit and SKYFi™ Audio System

by | Jul 1, 2005 | Component Reviews | 0 comments

Delphi’s new XM SKYFi2™
Satellite Radio Receiver is their latest generation product that offers
improvements in the original SKYFi™ receiver, making it the most
advanced design currently available from the company. The good news is
the new SKYFi2™ design is completely compatible with existing SKYFi™
accessories, so if you have already made an investment with the home
and vehicle adapters or the boombox, your don’t have to buy new support
hardware. The XM SKYFi2™ can pause and replay up to 30-minutes of
previously recorded digital audio from any active channel using the new
replay feature. The unit can also be set up to display a personalized
stock ticker or Info Extras such as a sports ticker along with a clock.
Favorite stocks can be added or deleted through the menu interface. The
Info Extras currently has sport score updates where the user can select
specific teams they want coverage on, yet the data stream can
potentially be used for other items as well. The unit also features a
built-in FM modulator that can be used to transmit audio on select FM
audio frequencies, allowing any FM stereo system to play XM satellite
audio. The TuneSelect feature finds favorite songs or artists if they
are currently playing. The unit is designed to be mated with the
optional home or vehicle adapter kit or the SKYFi Audio System that is
essentially a portable boom box. Since the SKYFi2™ unit is sold as an
individual system, one of the optional kits must be purchased
separately based on the user’s need. The new white LED backlight
display is in our opinion easier to read than the original SKYFi™ unit.

XM System
XM Radio took a bold step launching their satellite-based radio system
and has been very successful in getting over 4 million subscribers
since the official launch in late 2001. The systems is designed around
a pair of high-powered geosynchronous satellites dubbed “Rock” and
“Roll” to beam down more than 150 digital radio channels to customers
in the 48 contiguous states. The system also relies on approximately
800 ground-based repeaters that receive and retransmit the signals to
the XM Radio receivers. These terrestrial repeaters are particularly
important in dense urban areas where tall structures might otherwise
cause reception problems for customers. Based on our tests the system
works very well with excellent coverage overall in the Los Angeles
area. Dropouts were rare and only occurred when the antenna was blocked
by large overpasses or tunnels.

The SKYFi2™ receiver has an easy to use menu system that lets the user
adjust brightness and contrast of the LCD display, set the bass and
treble levels, real-time feedback of the satellite and terrestrial
antenna strength, Direct Tune (on/off), Search Mode (category or
scanning), Channel Skip/Add, Memory Recall, Tune Select (Artist or
Song), Stock Ticker, Info Extras, Display Screen Mode, Set Clock,
Auto-On, Auto-Off / Sleep Timer, Set Factory Defaults.

The large rotary dial is used to select the channel while in the normal
display mode. Turning the dial shows a list of five items with the
active one highlighted. Using the Display button, the user can switch
between displaying the channel name, artist and song while navigating
through the channels. Identifying a favorite song is easy with this
system since it is displayed on the screen.

Night view
The SKYFi2™ unit has a large black and white display with front panel
buttons that are easy to see in the dark. The Display button changes
the display mode to one of four different settings. Normally the Artist
and Song are statically displayed with the channel name and number. The
second mode displays the Artist and Song in large text as it scrolls
across the screen. This works great when viewing the LCD display from a
distance, such as when it is docked in the portable boombox. The third
mode is for the Stock Ticker, where it displays your favorite stocks on
the screen. Finally the last mode is for the Sports Ticker, which
displays game scores. Both the stocks and team scores displayed in the
last two modes require the user to configure the information in the
setup menu.

The Search button goes through a list of music currently being played
based on genre (i.e. Rock, Jazz&Blues, etc.). Simply select the
song of interest and press the XM button. The Preset/Direct buttons
allows the user to choose from the A, B, or C presets or the direct
mode, where the user can manually enter the channel number. Each preset
group can have up to 10 channels defined for a total of 30 presets. The
Jump button bounces between the last two channels selected. The buttons
just above the dial are used for the 30 minute buffer allowing users to
skip backward or forward to each song up to the last 30 minutes. This
is a powerful feature especially for those who want to repeat previous
program material they just heard on the radio.

The SKYFi2™ comes with TuneSelect, a feature that alerts you when one
of your favorite songs or artists is playing on another channel. The
receiver emits a beep to alert you when any of your saved artists or
songs are currently playing. If you see a song or artist you like,
simply push the XM button and the unit will immediately jump to that
channel. Using the menu controls, you can remove some or all of the
songs or artists in the list.

The IR remote included with the SKYFi2™ receiver is a compact design
measuring only 5 inches long and 1-1/2 inches wide and powers from a
pair of AAA batteries. The remote has many of the same buttons found on
the front of the main receiver unit. Unlike the SKYFi2™ receiver, the
IR remote does not illuminate at night, making it difficult to use in
dark settings. The remote does work well from a long distance away
based on our tests. We were able to control the receiver reliably from
more than 30 feet away indoors when using the SKYFi™ Audio System
(Boombox). We liked using the second display mode on the receiver which
allowed us to read the large text on the LCD display from a distance.
The unit apparently has non-volatile memory where configuration data is
stored because it always kept track of the previous information and
state even when power was completely removed from the unit. This
included the power state as well.

The Car Kit
The Delphi XM SKYFi2™ receiver does not operate as a stand alone unit,
but instead requires one of the optional accessories depending upon the
user’s installation requirements. We received the Vehicle Adapter Kit
(Model: SA10002) priced at $49.99 that includes the car cradle,
roof-mount antenna, audio cassette adapter, cigarette lighter power
adapter and a universal swivel mounting bracket with adhesive pads and
cleaning kit. This kit is essential for car installations and includes
everything needed to get the system up and running in a short time. We
installed the system in less than 30-minutes with the vast majority of
the time spent routing the antenna cable. The cradle interfaces to the
SKYFi2™ receiver through a single mating connector on the bottom of the
unit. The side of the cradle has a high-bandwidth SMB jack for the
antenna, a power jack for the cigarette lighter adapter and an audio
output jack. Our tests utilized the cassette adapter as well as the
built-in FM modulator, yet neither of these methods were typically as
good as a direct connection to the audio system. The nice part is all
three options (direct, cassette, or FM modulation) exist with this

Delphi made the antenna cable extra long (21 feet), which allowed us to
optimally route the cable through our vehicle. The antenna is actually
quite small with a foot print of 1-3/8″ x 1-3/4″ with a high powered
magnet that stuck like glue. In fact, the magnet was so strong that
removing the antenna required effort. Four tiny rubber pads help
protect the surface from scratches. The SMB connector ensures an
excellent high bandwidth connection to the radio receiver. The thin
cable made it easy to hide under the carpet in the car.Radio ID (Ch 0),
XM Preview (Ch 1) Emergency Alert (Ch 247) are the only channels
available before activating service. The Radio ID number is needed to
identify your receiver and will be requested during the activation

SKYFi™ Audio System
also offers the SKYFi™ Audio System (Model SA10001) designed for the XM
SKYFi™ or SKYFi2™ Radio. This portable satellite radio boom box has a
docking station that allows users to listen to their SKYFi™ or SKYFi2™
receiver from virtually anywhere a signal can be received. By simply
pressing the inset cradle, the docking station clicks and tilts outward
making it easy to slide the SKYFi2™ unit into the base. Pressing it
again clicks it back into place. Just below the receiver is a headphone
jack and volume control. The unit is designed to run from six “D”
batteries (not included) or from the included AC adapter.

Sound quality was great from this portable unit, yet was inherently
limited in fidelity due to the speaker sizes. However, the sound was
very clean and free of distortion often heard with portable units. The
detachable antenna included with the boombox can be mounted on the rear
of the unit or placed in a location to optimize reception. Again, XM
provides a long 21-foot cable not to limit placement of the antenna.

Rural Locations

We also took the XM SKYFi2™ system to rural Midwest locations where
coverage is usually spotty for cell phone users and radio listeners.
The XM SKYFi2™ radio worked perfectly with no drop out problems in this
part of the country. Signal strength was high according to the built-in
meter and we were able to enjoy the same variety of music on our
journey that we had in busy Los Angeles. Another benefit of being in a
rural part of the country is the built-in FM modulator in the XM
SKYFi2™ unit work very well, where other FM station are not competing
for the same frequency. While the cassette adapter worked fine for us
during our tests, we liked the ability to wirelessly transmit the
stereo signal to any local FM stereo (car or home).

The new XM SKYFi2™ is a wonderful product that offers great flexibility
from the XM Radio system. The optional kits allow each user to tailor
the installation and only buy the products needed. The downside is you
have to get one of the kits or buy other optional accessories to get up
and running. The Vehicle Adapter Kit is essential for mobile use and
includes everything needed to install the receiver in a car or truck.
The ability to transfer the receiver to a home installation or portable
boom box is a great feature. A single mating connector on the receiver
provides a simple interface without the need to move wires. We have
been using the system for more than two months now and have really
grown to like the features and performance of the system. Traditional
radio is too polluted with advertising and offers little variety
compared to XM’s lineup. Rarely do we run into a situation where there
is nothing interesting to listen to on XM Radio. The TuneSelect feature
offers XM listeners even more control over the content they want to
hear and is a nice touch. The greatest part is that the programming
stays the same no matter where you travel in the country.

Standard programming from XM Radio costs $12.95 per month for more than
150 commercial-free, digital radio channels. In addition, no contract
is required. Music is available on 67 of those channels. XM also offers
a premium Playboy radio channel for an additional $2.99 per month.

– Kevin Nakano

Review – At a Glance

Delphi XM SKYFi2™ Satellite Radio Receiver
MSRP: $119.99 not including accessories

# 30-Minute Replay including pause and replay up to 30 minutes of live broadcast.
# InfoExtras – Personal stock ticker, sports ticker and clock.
# Built-In Wireless Modulator Turns any FM stereo into an XM Radio.
# TuneSelect™ Finds your favorite artists and songs.

Technical Specifications
Model #:     SA10101
MSRP:     $119.99
Dimensions:     4.65 in. W x 2.91 in. H x 1.26 in. D
(118 mm x 74 mm x 32 mm)
Weight:     Receiver: 5.20 oz. (147 g), Remote: 1.60 oz. (45 g)
Antenna:     RF SMB connector
Power:     6V, 1000 mA maximum current, P13 connector, positive polarity
Audio Output:     3.5mm diameter mini-stereo jack

Delphi XM SKYFi™ Vehicle Adapter Kit

# Car cradle
# Small magnetic roof mount antenna
# Audio cassette adapter
# Cigarette lighter power adapter
# Universal swivel mounting bracket with adhesive pads and cleaning kit

Technical Specifications
Model #:     SA10002
MSRP:     $49.99
Weight:     1.28 pounds

Delphi XM SKYFi™ Audio System (Boom Box)

# 2 dual cone speakers for maximum bass
# External mini headphone jack
# Integrated carrying handle
# Docking cradle for the SKYFi™ Receiver
# Integrated detachable hi-gain antenna with 20ft cable

Model #:     SA10001
MSRP:     $99.99

Company Information
Delphi Corporation
World and North American Headquarters
5725 Delphi Drive
Troy, Michigan 48098-2815
Phone: 248-813-2000
Fax: 248-813-2670


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