Review: Sirius Stiletto 2
February 11, 2009
With built-in Wi-Fi, the Sirius Stiletto 2 ($329.99) offers the complete satellite radio package, but also a back-up means of connection.
Review: Sirius Stiletto 2
Pros: Built-in Wi-Fi; doubles as an MP3 Player; over 130 commercial-free radio channels; recording capability; sleek design; easy to set up and use; great reception; microSD card slot for memory expansion
Cons: Price; several channels available only in satellite mode; unable to rewind, pause, replay, or save songs in Wi-Fi mode; bulky antenna headphones
If you're considering purchasing a satellite radio or want to upgrade your current satellite device, the Stiletto 2 ($329.99, plus a monthly subscription fee) from Sirius XM Radio is an amazing music player. Introduced in late 2007, the Stiletto 2 is Sirius XM's most current Wi-Fi-enabled device and easily outperforms its predecessor, the Stiletto 100. You can listen to programming live from Sirius' satellite or terrestrial network, streamed via the Internet over a Wi-Fi connection, or recorded from live broadcasts. The device is also an MP3 player so you can access your own personal digital music collection.
Out of the box
The complete Stiletto 2 kit includes the portable radio, earbuds, antenna headset, battery, AC power adapter, a USB cable for connection to a PC, and My SIRIUS Studio software. After a simple activation, you're ready to go.
As with other satellite radios, a vehicle kit ($49.99) and home kit ($49.99) are available for additional listening options, if you want to shell out the extra bucks. The vehicle kit includes a compact docking cradle to charge the radio's battery and connects to the externally mounted antenna where it plays audio through your vehicle's stereo system. There were only two dead spots where we tested the device. Both times, we were in a suburban area densely populated with trees, but the dropped signal lasted only a few seconds. Other than that, we experienced no problems while testing the device during our travels. We strongly recommend a direct audio connection rather than a wireless connection. Through the wireless connection, the Stiletto's built-in FM transmitter sends the audio from the device to your vehicle's radio. The problem with a wireless connection is that you may encounter interference from local FM broadcasters. You'll experience a much better audio performance through a direct audio connection. A direct audio connection requires a 1/8" stereo male connector, which plugs into the "AUX IN" or "LINE IN" jack on the car radio. Since this connection is in the back of the car radio for some vehicles, a professional installation may be necessary.
The home kit allows you to listen to your portable music player at home or in the office. The home kit also includes a docking cradle to charge the battery and to connect to the indoor/outdoor antenna for improved reception. Audio cables allow you to connect to amplified speakers or a home entertainment system. It also comes with a remote control, along with a USB cable and software for connecting the home dock to your PC.
At 4.3 ounces, the Stiletto is lighter than its predecessor, the Stiletto 100. The Stiletto 2 has a stylish, chic black matte finish, with a click wheel that allows you to scroll through the menu and radio channels so you can navigate with ease. The large high resolution 2.2" color display on the Stiletto is sharp, colorful, bright, and makes the menu and channels easy to read. The stations are categorized by title and genre, and you can save several pre-sets for quicker access to your favorite stations. The four quadrants surrounding the dial contain the home, options, display, and back buttons. Want to go back to the main screen? Just press the Home button. As with most of the satellite radios on the market, you can see what song and which artist is playing before you select the station.
The Stiletto offers nice clear sound and we experienced great reception. While there is a built-in antenna for listening to the radio on the go, reception is much stronger wearing the Altec Lansing headset antenna that ships with the device. That was just one of the minor drawbacks with the devicewe found these headphones to be a bit bulky for our tastes.
You can store your MP3 and WMA files on the Stiletto 2 and manage it through Sirius' My Sirius Studio software, which is included with your kit. The Stiletto 2 is compatible with most music download and subscription services, including Rhapsody to Go. The device contains 2GB of internal flash memory, which allows you to store about 100 hours of music. You also have the ability to add microSD memory if you want more storage for your music files.
Some of the additional features of the Stiletto 2 include Sirius Replay, which allows you to pause, rewind, and replay up to one hour of live radio programming in satellite mode. Sports fanatics will love Game Alert, which allows you to track your favorite sports team and alerts you when they are playing and updates you when the score changes. The Stiletto also features Game Zone, which provides a listing of your favorite teams in one virtual category. If you're a parent, you also have control over the channels with the parental channel lockout feature.
The Stiletto 2 has built-in Wi-Fi for those times when you are unable to acquire a satellite signal. This allows you to listen to channels available on Sirius Internet Radio over any available Wi-Fi network. You can switch to the Internet Radio option from the Home menu. Once this option is selected, the device will try to connect to an accessible Wi-Fi access point or hotspot.
The Stiletto works over 802.11b/g wireless networks and offers WEP and WPA encryption. The one drawback to listening over a wireless connection is that Sirius Internet Radio is streamed and not broadcast. Because of this, certain features that are standard with Sirius are unavailable in Internet listening mode, such as the inability to record, pause, or rewind live content. Also, about 50 of the 130 radio channels are unavailable in Internet mode.
The Wi-Fi option is intended to be used only for backup, when you cant access a satellite signal. We found that we never had to rely on Wi-Fi, regardless of our location. We received a strong enough satellite signal in our car, home office, outdoors, at the health club, and in the local library, cafes, and restaurants. We also, of course, tested the Wi-Fi at a variety of hotspots and over our home network, and we were able to connect easily every time.
If you find yourself in a location where cannot acquire a satellite signal or access a Wi-Fi network, you can switch to your MP3 library or list of previously recorded songs or radio programming.
With satellite access to over 130 music, news, sports, and talk show channels, we've always been avid fans of satellite radio. Once you experience it, you'll never want to go back to regular radio programming. If you're thinking of trying it out, or if you want to upgrade your current satellite player, we believe that the Stiletto 2 is the best portable satellite radio on the market. Since this doubles as an MP3 player, we even prefer the Stiletto over our iPod.
One drawback is that satellite radio can be an expensive addiction since a monthly subscription is required. Packages start at $9.99 a month, with the opportunity to get reduced rates by paying for a year or more in advance. Although some Sirius channels are not available in Wi-Fi mode, we still love that the Wi-Fi is there as a backup wireless connection to our tunes. We recommend the Sirius Stiletto 2 most highly.
Daniel Casciato is a full-time freelance writer from Pittsburgh, PA. In addition to writing for Wi-FiPlanet, he writes health, legal, real estate and technology-related articles for trade and consumer magazines and has his own copywriting business. For more information, visit www.danielcasciato.com.