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Old 12-23-2006, 04:28 PM   #1
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The Stratus vs the Starmate 3
 
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Default The Stratus vs the Starmate 3

I picked up a Stratus last month to replace my aging Audiovox PNP2. I got the Stratus based solely on size. Small is easier to fit on the vehicle dash. The Stratus is the smallest Sirius radio with a multi line display. It's one of the newest of the batch and picks up all the Canadian Channels. The only current budget radio that is smaller is the Sirius One, and it only has a single line display.

The Stratus is a GREAT little radio, It was very easy to mount in my car, but I just couldn't get used to not having the song-seek feature. I thought I could do without it, but it wasn't to be. I missed it too much.

So... I ordered a Starmate 3 because it has song seek and is almost same size as the Stratus... Same height, same thickness, but 1/2 inch wider. Depending where you buy your satellite radio equipment, the Starmate 3 runs about $35 - $40 dollars more than a Stratus. What you GET for that extra 40 bucks really impressed me.

First off, the Starmate 3 display is better. You get 4 lines of text VS 3 on the Stratus. Also, the Stratus has fixed font text limited to 16 characters across. You can still read all the text Sirius sends, but there is a lot more scrolling.

Below is an actual shot I took of the radios placed side by side at the same time on the same channel: (The Stratus is on the right)



Both displays are 1 1/2 inches wide. The Starmate display is 7/8 inch high which is 1/4 inch higher than the Stratus.

Note:

- The Starmate has a 'reverse video' top and bottom line. The Stratus doesn't.
- On the top line, the Starmate shows 'Classic Vinyl', while the Stratus only shows 'ClsVinyl'.
- Also note that more of the song title fits across the display.
- The really nice thing is the fourth line on the Starmate with the Category and time.

When it comes to operating the faceplate, the up/down, category and select buttons are positioned differently, but I don't think one way is better than the other... Both were easy to use.

Functionally there is only one BIG difference between each faceplate. The channel buttons on the Stratus are harder to push. There are only 5 channel buttons on the Stratus and you rock them left or right to choose the channel you want. So, for instance, if you wanted channel 1, you'd rock the 1-2 button to the left. if you wanted channel 2, you'd rock it to the right. The Starmate on the other hand has 10 separate buttons and they respond with a positive click when you press them. The Stratus buttons feel dead and don't click.

The Starmate 3 comes with a remote control. The Stratus doesn't. If you want a remote for the stratus, you pay extra bringing the price of the units closer together (The Starmate 3 remote works with the Stratus BTW).

Where the Starmate 3 really shines is with the internal features. Some things the Starmate has that are missing on the Stratus are:

- Song seek (Alerts you to when a song you've selected is played)
- Artist seek (Alerts you to when an artist you've selected is played).
- Game alert (Alerts you to sporting events).
- My Gamezone (Displays scores of your favorite teams)
- 30 programable channels instead of 10
- The 'jump' button be set to ANY channel. The Stratus only sets to traffic channels.
- The Starmate lets you program 5 FM channels and hop between them. The stratus can only program 1
- The Starmate has time based features, Alarm, Sleep mode, Auto tune, & Auto shutdown. The Stratus has none of these.

There are a couple of more small things I'm missing, but it's plain to see the Starmtate 3 does a LOT more for only 40 bucks.

FWIW... The upgrade wasn't as expensive as it appears on the surface. Both units use the same dock. I needed another mobile mounting dock for my truck. The car dock sells for about 40 bucks.. So when I paid $80 for the Starmate, I was really only out $40 because I would have spent $40 for another car dock had I not bought the Starmate. Also, now I have two radios. I might activate the Stratus as a second receiver, or just keep it as a spare in case the Starmate ever gets stolen or broken.

Last edited by jwt873; 12-23-2006 at 04:33 PM..
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Old 12-23-2006, 06:16 PM   #2
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I'll agree with the Stratus buttons being a little non responsive but a remote will fix that. I disagree about the display, look how much clearer and brighter the text is on the Stratus, the Starmate uses a very light black text color.
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Old 12-24-2006, 05:35 AM   #3
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Yea the dock that comes w/ the stratus is a bit smaller than the universal car dock but the stratus fits in both. The starmate 3 looks like a more solid option and the display differances can be important when you read/listen to your reciever as much as a lot of us do! All and all a nice comparison...this should help folks who are looking for a mid/low price reciever... when I got my stratus a while back the (no remote) thing did not bother me much...however I did have a spare that worked fine and from the responses on this subject it is clear that sirius should have provided a remote w/ the stratus.
I read somewhere on this board there was going to be a remote included w/ future stratus kits...I guess we will see.
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Old 12-24-2006, 10:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vikingjunior
I'll agree with the Stratus buttons being a little non responsive but a remote will fix that. I disagree about the display, look how much clearer and brighter the text is on the Stratus, the Starmate uses a very light black text color.
Yes.. The Starmate has MORE text, but the Stratus text is larger and clearer. That is a fact.

I forgot to mention that I did like the Stratus display a bit better. I found that setting the brightness on the Stratus to the second bar produced a display that was clear and easy to read both in direct sunlight and at night in the dark.
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Old 12-24-2006, 12:17 PM   #5
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I buy the 4's (or my sportster2) for the display....I can't stand the orange...
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Old 12-24-2006, 01:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aleks
I buy the 4's (or my sportster2) for the display....I can't stand the orange...
Another example of "different strokes for different folks"....I actually like the amber display better. I find it much easier to read and much softer on the eyes. It was one of the selling points about the stratus for me. The blue screen is very harsh and bright (even with adjustment) IMO.
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