So we finally turned in our first generation Sirius satellite radio (which was big and bulky and never really had a good fit in our car) to get a free Stratus 4 from Sirius (free because they nearly always have an offer to get a free radio). The old maxim, You get what you pay for, couldn’t be more true.
The Stratus 4 is probably considered the new entry level radio, because it doesn’t have features like recording of up to 30 minutes (which is cool, letting you pause the live radio feed and pick it up again when you un-pause it). My wife’s radio has that. The Stratus 4 is about 1/3 the size of the first generation unit it is replacing.
Installation was a breeze and took about 20 minutes, done myself in my driveway. Since it could use the same satellite antenna from the old radio, it was really just removing the old radio, its mount, and installing the new mount and radio. Boom, it was done.
But there was another wire in the box that I didn’t recognize. I put it aside for the time being, swapped activation from the old radio to the new (another cost-cutting area for Sirius — support personnel from India — so I had to speak slowly and repeat nearly every other sentence… Fun!).
After driving out for the first day with the Sirius Stratus 4 installed, I was dismayed at the lack of power from the FM transmitter built into the receiver. This allows you to send the Sirius signal to your car’s radio. Even an iPod adapter has a stronger signal than the Stratus 4! All I heard was a lot of hissing behind the music (and yes, I tried all the frequencies available to find an FM frequency that didn’t have a radio station on it).
Sirius’ cost-cutting measures apparently extend to its hardware too. In an effort to reduce costs, they put a smaller FM transmitter in the radio and then, get this, expect you to run ANOTHER wire to wherever your FM antenna is!
Apparently the geniuses at Sirius don’t understand that most consumers don’t want to spend their weekends running yet another thin antenna wire all around their car and back. My FM antenna is in the rear, so that means threading that damned wire through consoles, seats, under floor trim, you name it. Another Saturday will be spent doing this, all in the name of saving $3 or $4 (my time alone is worth more than that, but scheduling to get into the radio installation shop, dropping off the car, and then getting it back 2 hours later is just as much hassle).
Thanks Sirius for really screwing the consumer with the Stratus 4. Crappy FM reception means this radio is a sad piece of engineering. I almost wish I had my first generation radio back (a unit that *never* had any problem transmitting a nice clear FM signal).
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