Hands on with Sirius Stiletto 2

stilletto2.jpgDespite never having had my hands on a unit prior to the Stiletto 2, I’ve been a big proponent of satellite radio. Coupling a huge variety of programming with the ability to listen to your favorite channels from coast to coast is part of the natural evolution of the medium.

The Stiletto 2 is Sirius’ latest entry into the portable player market. Debuting in September 2007 as a replacement for the Stiletto 100, the Stiletto 2 is designed to fill that void left by the company’s other units, which primarily meant for car and home use. As a green transit enthusiast, I felt it would be the perfect model for me to try out. So what did I think?

The Good
While not a comment on the unit itself, I just have to get one thing out of the way: the programming on satellite radio is amazing. With well over 100 channels I found myself discovering new music, rediscovering old favorites, and digging a number of talk radio shows that I can’t hear anywhere else. Regardless of how good or bad any one unit is, the strength of satellite radio lies in it’s programming. Sirius has that in spades.

The unit itself has a number of handy features. In addition to the bright and readable display, complete with live information about what tracks are playing on every channel, the Stiletto lets me pause live radio and set up recordings. If there’s a tune I like and want to save for later, I can tell the Stiletto to record it with a single click. If I want to record a block of music, I can do it just as easily.

The Stiletto 2 can also be used in your vehicle or home with the purchase of their respective kits.

The Bad

While it could likely be argued that the signal when used in conjunction with the home or vehicle kit is second to none (I did not test it with either of these, but I have no doubt they’d be quite effective), the signal when used for it’s primary function leaves a lot to be desired. Unless you are outdoors with nothing blocking your view of the sky, you will not get a signal. Over the course of a few weeks I attempted a number of different situations. In my home, in a restaurant — even on a bus. While some indoor situations would get a signal that cut in and out, the only way I was able to get a 100% uninterrupted signal was by using provided antenna headphones outside.

In Sirius’ defense, the unit does allow for recording to combat this very problem. Once you get a good collection going you’ll never have to worry about being without music again. The Stiletto 2 even offers a MicroSD slot for you to store your own music on there. Additionally, if you have a wifi connection you can listen live just as you would with a satellite signal. Regardless of all the alternatives though, the Stiletto 2 can’t deliver on what it is meant to do — provide me with live satellite radio anywhere I go.

The Verdict

While the content provided by Sirius impressed me enough to endorse the platform whole-heartedly, the signal problems experienced by the Stiletto 2 rendered it a poor buy in the portable satellite radio market. You’d likely be much better off purchasing a cheaper home/car unit and sticking with an alternate music player for your pocket.

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