Why I have XM and Sirius plug-and-play radios in my truck
Heads up!Welcome to this article from the Crutchfield archives. Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.
I am a satellite radio fanatic, as you can see in this video. I have both XM and Sirius plug-and-play radios in my truck. I chose plug-and-play over direct-connect radios because they make my time with my satellite radios even better. Directly connected tuners do have some advantages - they can be hiden away under the dash, out of site, and all the channel changing is done right on the face of the vehicle's radio, but plug-and-play tuners allow me to do some pretty cool things that aren't possible with direct-connect tuners.
With plug-and-play tuners, I can pause, rewind, and fast-foward whatever channel I am listening to. I can't tell you how many times I've used this to play a song over and over. I hear a great song come on, and I just want to hear it again, no problem hit the rewind button, it goes back to the beginning of the song, or you can hold the button down to do an audible rewind, like on a CD. I've memorized the words to a lot of songs this way.
It also comes in handy when listening to talk radio. Like when I pull up to the drive-thru window at the bank or a restaurant, I just hit the pause button, then as I'm driving away I can pick up right where I left off. In my truck the cigarette lighter jack is always on, so I can leave the plug-and-play radio on while I go in a store. This is nice when I get back in my truck, because I can "rewind" about 45 minutes and hear what I missed, and fast-forward to catch up or skip a commercial break during a talk show (yeah, the talk channels have commercials, but I skip them whenever possible).
My Sirius Sportster 4 has about a 45-minute memory buffer, and my XM Sky-Fi 3 has 30 minutes. XM plug-and-plays take it even one step further. With XM, the memory buffer keeps recording even when I change channels.
I also love the bigger, more informative displays on plug-and-play radios. I really like being able to listen to one channel while I scroll thru the other channels looking for something different to listen to. It's kind of like digital cable or satellite TV at home, where you have an on-screen guide to make channel surfing so much easier. With a direct-connect tuner, you have to change channels to find out what's on another channel.
One of the first things I hear when people get in my truck for the first time is, "Man, what's all this stuff on your dash?" That's the downside to plug-and-play radios, they do take up some room on your dash. So, if a "clean" dash is important to you, then a plug-and-play may not be right for you. For me, the extra stuff I can do with a plug-and-play radio is worth the extra gear on my dash.
With satellite radio, the programming is the main attraction: commercial-free music, NFL, MLB, NASCAR, comedy, etc. The tuner is not the reason I got satellite radio, but I really believe that my satellite radio experience is better because I chose plug-and-play tuners.