Digital Radio Central - Sponsored by TSS Radio
  DRC Home Page DRC Forums Contact Us  
 
SIRIUS Backstage Forum
 
 
 
  Sirius Satellite Radio XM Satellite Radio iTunes/iPod Slacker Pandora  
 
 
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read  
Go Back   SIRIUS Backstage Forum > >
Visit Digital Radio Central

Notices

Radios & Receivers This is the place to talk about all the high-tech SIRIUS radios: Kenwood, Pioneer, Clarion, JVC, Alpine, Audiovox, Sony, XACT, and more!

 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 12:21 AM   #1
Wolf
Channel Surfer
 
Join Date: Oct 07, 2003
Location: VA
Posts: 36
Wolf is on a distinguished road
Default Wolf's SIRIUS Starmate Review (long)

Hi all. This is my review of the Sirius Starmate. It is a work in progress, and therefore subject to change with no prior notice...kind of like XM's metal channel (yeah, I'm bitter).

Anyways, before going into my impressions, I wanted to explain where I'm coming from. This unit replaced my Roady2 (XM's version of a Starmate) tuner, and since its a familiar point of reference for me, there will be some comparisons to this unit. Prior to this, I have been an XM customer for the last while (with a brief stint with a Sportster which eventually got returned). The reason I went with Sirius was because XM cancelled my favorite channel with absolutely no prior notice (R.I.P. XMLM). I had planned to buy a Roady2 for the missus, but after the XMLM business I ripped out my Roady2 and slapped it in her car, with a shiny new Sirius Starmate in mine. But anyways, on to the review.

"Whats in the box, Weaver?"
The Sirius Starmate is Sirius's smallest plug-and-play unit. Also, this unit is cradle-less, with antenna, power, and audio out connectors placed directly on the unit. The unit is very small, about the size of a pack of smokes. For reference, the dimensions are almost exactly the same as the Roady, but with the Starmate being a bit thicker. While thicker, the unit is significantly more solid in build than the rather cheapy feel of the Roady2 (I guess you would have to actually play with one to understand). The Starmate comes with everything you need to get up and running. Included in the box is the unit itself (duh), a cigarette lighter adapter for power, a suction cup mount, a rather small antenna, and the worst remote control ever designed by humans. The antenna is much smaller than the one included in the Sportster car kit, but slightly larger than the Roady2's.

Installation
Installation was insanely simple. Anyone can get this thing installed and running in minutes, just with whats included in the box and with no tools. The suction cup mount, while kind of funky looking, is exceptionally sturdy and allows for the easiest mounting I have ever done. My guess is people will either love it (for very solid, easy to install mount) or hate it (because its slightly out of place with the tinyness of the Starmate). Out went the Roady2 vent clip, which was subject to rattling and dropping my roady into my ash tray. I slapped the suction cup mount onto the windshield, whipped the antenna onto the top of the dash (tucking the wad of excess cable into the recess where windshield meets dash), plugged in the ciggy adapter, and connected audio via the XM cassette adapter that was included with my Roady2 (oh, the irony!). I will say at this point though that there is a very foolish design decision about the location of the ports on the Starmate. Unlike the Roady, which has all the connectors on one side, the Starmate has audio out and antenna on one side, and power on the other. This makes clean installs even more tricky. Anyways, I immediately recieved the preview channel, and a short phone call later gave me access to all the channels. If you are install-phobic like myself and/or lease your car, you can't go wrong with this thing. Dead Easy Install.

"Its on like Donkey Kong!"
OK, so on to the good stuff. My first impression after turning it on was "goddamn, that is a nice display!". The display, which is illuminated red on black, is outstanding and contrasts very nicely with the silver color of the unit. It puts the display on my SkyFi1 to shame, and basically makes my old Roady2 look like ass (the roady2 is a side-lit LCD screen). The unit has lots of neat buttons on the front. However, if you go with the suction cup mount its unlikely that you will be able to actually reach them and drive at the same time. However, for those with really long arms, there are a few highlights. On the front right of the unit is a really cool rocker switch that you can push up and down to do stuff with (my arms are short so I haven't played with it much). The rocker switch is comprable to the cheapy corner clicky thing on the Roady2. Another interesting set of buttons are the volume controls on the right side of the unit. With these you can control the volume on the audio-out port (but NOT through the FM modulator). Aside from that, there is the normal array of preset buttons (5 banks of 6 presets), a power button, possibly some other buttons that I can't recall, and the very large and prominantly placed (top center) all-powerful "display" button. By all- powerful, I mean it does almost nothing. Pressing this button results in toggling the top line of text display either the station name or the genre. Oddly enough though, HOLDING DOWN the display button for a few moments produces something infinately more useful, as doing so will switch the display into view-four-channels-at-the-same-time mode. In this mode, pressing the display channel will toggle between showing channel name, artist, and song title. This is actually very cool, and I am quite confused with why this wasnt the default bahviour for just clicking the display button (especially considering holding down the display button with the remote control requires exceptional skill). Other than the display button, all other buttons are laid out well, and the toggle switch is really really neat. The display, aside from looking sweet, generally displays 3 lines...the top is a bar with cannel number/channel name/preset, then the other two lines are big lines for artist and song that scroll (OMG, unlike my Roady2 I can actually see more than just 15 characters of a artist or song!!). Something I miss from my XM units though is a simple signal indicator...there isn't one on the main screen (although you can find the full-screen one in the menu). However, with all that being said, the unit is an absolute joy to use.

"SWEET! But what does mine say?"
I was literally shocked at how much better the Starmate's sound quality was over my Roady2. Keep in mind that we are talking about the same car stereo with the same audio cassette adapter. I don't know how much of it is XM vs Sirius, and how much is hardware, but the improvement in SQ with the Starmate is VERY noticable over the Roady2. On the downside though, while reception is very good, with only occasional tree/overpass dropouts, it is not as good as my Roady's was. The Roady was exceptionally tolerent of trees and overpasses. In all fairness though A) I live right outside DC (where XM HQ is), where there are a ton of repeaters, and B) the antenna is on the inside of my car...I'm not sure what the difference would be in either case if they were properly installed on the roof. Some other randomness, changing channels takes just a tiny bit longer than on my Roady, causing inital annoyance. I don't know if this is a Sirius thing or of it varies from tuner to tuner. I'm mostly over it now though.

"I could almost see the remote!"
OK, nitpicks and personal preferences aside, there is really only one weak side to the Starmate package. Specifically, the remote control sucks. I don't know whos hands this thing was designed for, but it is carpal-tunnel incarnate. If the bottom row of buttons were placed any lower on the remote, they would be in your lap. Hitting those low buttons requires the use of two hands or for the user to be quadruple jointed. Using the upper buttons though, like channel up/down, band, menu, etc. really isn't that bad. In addition to poor ergonomics though, I also find that it just doesn't work that well. I could point my XM remote in almost any direction in my car and it would still work. Sometimes I swear Im aiming the damned remote right at the IR reciever and the channel still doesn't change. It could be user error though, I wouldn't put it past me.

"Its game over man!"
Well, thats about it. If I think of something else to say I'll add it. But let me just sum up by saying that this really is a wonderful unit, and superior to my old Roady2 in almost every respect. Despite my minor complaints, the unit meets or exceeds all expectations in the areas the count (design, build, sound quality). Also, if someone could give me a movie quote for the installation section, I would most appreciate it (its late, and I'm tired so nothings coming to mind).

--------------------
UPDATE 2/26/05:
--------------------
The manual for the Stramate, which has more info on the buttons and features, can be seen here:
http://sirius.com/pdf/manuals/Starmate_ST1.pdf

Also, Crutchfield has some very high-rez photos of the Starmate and its included accessories, which can be seen here

My bad, view-three-channels-at-the-same-time mode is actually view-four-channels-at-the-same-time mode. Oversight corrected above.

-------------------
UPDATE 3/7/05:
-------------------
I finally decided to mount the antenna on the roof instead of having it inside on the dash. Dramatic reception improvement. I had not a single drop out my whole ride in, versus 5-6 dropouts per ride-in when it was inside. Usually I dropped under every overpass, and on a couple heavily-wooded side streets. Now, instead of drop outs, I never went below three bars on the bad spots, and was full or near full signal everywhere else. The Roady2 definately got better reception with the antenna inside the car the the Starmate with antenna inside the car. But definately Starmate with antenna outside is better than Roady2 inside.



-wolf
Wolf is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 12:29 AM   #2
de
Top Dog Member
 
de's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 15, 2003
Location: Lawrence, KS
Posts: 1,859
de is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Sirius Starmate Review (long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf
"I could almost see the remote!"
OK, nitpicks and personal preferences aside, there is really only one weak side to the Starmate package. Specifically, the remote control sucks.
Amen. I'm stuck with same remote on my Sportster.

Glad to hear that you like the unit overall. I'll bet it's on Hard Attack most of the time.
de is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 12:33 AM   #3
Wolf
Channel Surfer
 
Join Date: Oct 07, 2003
Location: VA
Posts: 36
Wolf is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Sirius Starmate Review (long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by de
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf
"I could almost see the remote!"
OK, nitpicks and personal preferences aside, there is really only one weak side to the Starmate package. Specifically, the remote control sucks.
Amen. I'm stuck with same remote on my Sportster.

Glad to hear that you like the unit overall. I'll bet it's on Hard Attack most of the time.
Aye, my first preset went to Hard Attack and I've been listening to it almost constantly

And something I forgot to mention, FWIW, a remote was not included with the Roady2. I actually had to buy it separately.
Wolf is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 12:48 AM   #4
DAB
Site Editor / Moderator
Wolf's SIRIUS Starmate Review (long)
 
DAB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 08, 2003
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 20,013
DAB has a spectacular aura aboutDAB has a spectacular aura aboutDAB has a spectacular aura about
Default

Thanks WOLF that is a great review. Glad to hear you like the StarMate so much. I've been waiting to see someone review it. You've earned a sticky.
__________________
DAB

Digital Radio Central (New Forum) http://www.digitalradiocentral.com/forum.php

Slacker G2 Premium (4gb-25 Stations), Home Dock
Delphi XpressRC with 2 Home, 2 Car Docks and XMBB1 Boombox
1st Gen, iPod Touch 32gb (Slacker and Pandora Apps) iKicker Boombox
DAB is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 01:04 AM   #5
RUFUSBIGBUCKS
Mixologist
 
RUFUSBIGBUCKS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 18, 2004
Location: Southern California
Posts: 327
RUFUSBIGBUCKS is on a distinguished road
Default

Post some pics when you have a chance, Ive been curious on how this one was going to work out!



RUFUS
__________________
2000 Lexus GS400 SIRIUS Starmate Replay
1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse GST (450wHP) XM getting ripped out as we speak!
Proud S50 Owner
Preferred Station: Shade 45
RUFUSBIGBUCKS is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 08:23 AM   #6
Wolf
Channel Surfer
 
Join Date: Oct 07, 2003
Location: VA
Posts: 36
Wolf is on a distinguished road
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by DAB
Thanks WOLF that is a great review. Glad to hear you like the StarMate so much. I've been waiting to see someone review it. You've earned a sticky.
Woot!! My first sticky

-Wolf
Wolf is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 08:39 AM   #7
Wolf
Channel Surfer
 
Join Date: Oct 07, 2003
Location: VA
Posts: 36
Wolf is on a distinguished road
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by RUFUSBIGBUCKS
Post some pics when you have a chance, Ive been curious on how this one was going to work out!



RUFUS
I don't have a digicam, but I'll see what I can do. The tinyness of the unit makes it actually look really nice for a PNP install, although perhaps I am a little biased

-Wolf
Wolf is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 09:20 AM   #8
nelsdvn
Just Tuned In
 
Join Date: Feb 15, 2005
Location: WI
Posts: 2
nelsdvn is on a distinguished road
Send a message via ICQ to nelsdvn Send a message via AIM to nelsdvn Send a message via MSN to nelsdvn Send a message via Yahoo to nelsdvn
Default

My starmate crapped out within 4 hours of install...........
__________________
[t:285a3bf6db]u=nelsdvn&t=pnp2[/t:285a3bf6db]
nelsdvn is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 09:26 AM   #9
Wolf
Channel Surfer
 
Join Date: Oct 07, 2003
Location: VA
Posts: 36
Wolf is on a distinguished road
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nelsdvn
My starmate crapped out within 4 hours of install...........
Doh I guess those things can happen with the first run of a new product. Still sucks though. Did you get it replaced?
Wolf is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 11:07 AM   #10
DAB
Site Editor / Moderator
Wolf's SIRIUS Starmate Review (long)
 
DAB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 08, 2003
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 20,013
DAB has a spectacular aura aboutDAB has a spectacular aura aboutDAB has a spectacular aura about
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nelsdvn
My starmate crapped out within 4 hours of install...........
Its like anything else you buy electronics there will always be a few bad ones. When you say it crapped out, what exactly do you mean? It wouldn't power up? The display wasn't working? It wouldn't get a signal from the sats? What exactly crapped out? Just curious as we often like to track these things to see if there is any kind of pattern.

I see this is your first post, so Welcome to SIRIUSBackstage.
__________________
DAB

Digital Radio Central (New Forum) http://www.digitalradiocentral.com/forum.php

Slacker G2 Premium (4gb-25 Stations), Home Dock
Delphi XpressRC with 2 Home, 2 Car Docks and XMBB1 Boombox
1st Gen, iPod Touch 32gb (Slacker and Pandora Apps) iKicker Boombox
DAB is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 07:40 PM   #11
gilmour25
Mixologist
 
gilmour25's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 17, 2005
Location: Philly, PA
Posts: 285
gilmour25 is on a distinguished road
Send a message via AIM to gilmour25
Default

Wolf, thanks for the review.



How do you like Hard Attack vs XMLM?
gilmour25 is offline  
 
 
Old 02-24-2005, 08:30 PM   #12
Wolf
Channel Surfer
 
Join Date: Oct 07, 2003
Location: VA
Posts: 36
Wolf is on a distinguished road
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by gilmour25
Wolf, thanks for the review.



How do you like Hard Attack vs XMLM?
I am really digging Hard Attack. I'll need some more listening time before I can make a firm conclusion, but I might be liking it more than XMLM. First, it plays a wider range of styles. I really like that they throw in more classic stuff (older Pantara, Metallica, Slayer, etc.) as well as power metal (like Iced Earth and Nightwish). I could do without nu metal stuff like Korn, which is stuff that never would have been played on XMLM. I liked that it was a gauruntee that I would always hear the hardest stuff every time I tuned to XMLM. However, I think I prefer the variety in Hard Attack, with the mixes of styles it is very listenable. I hear all the time that Sirius repeats too much stuff, but I haven't really experienced that too much. There are a couple songs that have played alot, but mostly I have heard a ton of unique songs, so its all good to me. XMLM was prone to repeats anyways. I also got tired of the recorded bits on XMLM, and thankfully Hard Attack seems to have actual DJs more often which I like.

So basically, Hard Attack kicks serious ass, and I don't think many fans of XMLM would be disappointed if they tuned into it.

-Wolf
Wolf is offline  
 
 
Old 02-25-2005, 12:40 AM   #13
teez zee
Channel Surfer
 
Join Date: Oct 24, 2004
Posts: 19
teez zee is on a distinguished road
Default

My first antenna made it through the night. Continually, it switched to antenna not connected mode. Of course, the guys at CC tried to tell me that was the way that it works. Bunk.S

The display is great at night. But, I use this receiver i a roadster. I absolutely can not see it during the day when I wear polarized shades. It goes completely black unless you look at it from the side.

Currently, my antenna sits on the seat and my reception is excellent.

As wolf said, a great little receiver with good potential. The home kit does not allow any adjustment of the rake angle so, you have to set it on a high shelf so that You can see it. The ps adapter and antenna seem conventional and the mount is nothing more than a stamped metal bracket. Even so, I like it. But, with the four wires that I have to disconnect, I willl probably leave the radio in the car and listen to streamig audio at home.
teez zee is offline  
 
 
Old 02-25-2005, 02:03 PM   #14
nelsdvn
Just Tuned In
 
Join Date: Feb 15, 2005
Location: WI
Posts: 2
nelsdvn is on a distinguished road
Send a message via ICQ to nelsdvn Send a message via AIM to nelsdvn Send a message via MSN to nelsdvn Send a message via Yahoo to nelsdvn
Default

I have sent it off for an exchange. I tried to get this item early and ordered from a web only retailer that I cannot recommend. All said it is going to take about 10 days to 2 weeks to resolve this. Communication with the vendor has also been awful. The unit was nice while it worked. The illumination matches my Audi allroad perfectly.


Doh I guess those things can happen with the first run of a new product. Still sucks though. Did you get it replaced?[/quote]
__________________
[t:285a3bf6db]u=nelsdvn&t=pnp2[/t:285a3bf6db]
nelsdvn is offline  
 
 
Old 02-26-2005, 12:04 PM   #15
Wolf
Channel Surfer
 
Join Date: Oct 07, 2003
Location: VA
Posts: 36
Wolf is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Wolf's SIRIUS Starmate Review (long)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf
EDIT 2/26:
The manual for the Stramate, which has more info on the buttons and features, can be seen here:
http://sirius.com/pdf/manuals/Starmate_ST1.pdf

Also, Crutchfield has some very high-rez photos of the Starmate and its included accessories, which can be seen here
I added some links to the manual, as well as some photos over at crutchfield.

I still haven't been able to get hold of a digicam to show off my install

-Wolf
Wolf is offline  
 
 
 

Go Back   SIRIUS Backstage Forum > >


Digitalradiocentral.com




Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:03 PM.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Search Engine Optimisation provided by DragonByte SEO v2.0.39 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
All Content Copyright SIRIUS Backstage. All Rights Reserved. SIRIUS and registered trademarks are the property of SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Inc. The opinions posted on SIRIUS Backstage website and forums are those of the individual posters and/or this website and are not necessarily the opinions or positions of SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Inc.