Delphi SkyFi3 XM Review

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p1000016.jpgGive a little get a little” is an appropriate description of the SkyFi3. Seems to me that Delphi’s initial thought was to provide XM in the car, and then they expanded that role. Similar to Pioneer’s Inno and Samsung’s Helix, the SkyFi3 performs many of the same functions as these more expensive units. XM satellite radio is robust in its line-up with over 170 channels of music, talk, comedy, sports, traffic and weather. The traffic coverage is provided by Nav Traffic and is available in over 50 cities and growing. Frankly, I found it to be very helpful.

All grown up, the SkyFi3 multi-tasks by moving from the car to home to boom box to portable satellite radio, There is a new feature: an expansion microSD slot to add your own MP3 tunes. The size of a big MP3 player (4.4×2.25×0.7 inches) the SkyFi3 is surprisingly light and has a 2.8 inch monochrome screenThe screen can be shown either vertically or horizontally with the press of a button.

There is a 30 minute buffer for live radio. What that means is you can record the full song even if you missed the beginning. The buffer also allows you to pause, rewind and fast forward though XM programming.

You can record and store 10 hours of XM content in the internal memory. This is a nice feature, when you have no signal (on an airplane). Then, using the MP3 music you previously stored on the micro SD card you can combine both sources creating a playlist. The Artist and TuneSelect feature locates favorite artists and songs on the XM network. There is a USB port for transferring your music, which I also used to charge the SkyFi3, but it’s inconsistent and Delphi doesn’t recommend it.

Everything costs extra.
The SkyFi3 costs $229 with a $30 mail-in rebate and it comes with a vehicle kit and mail-in offer for the live wearable kit. For the home you can purchase the optional home kit. The portable radio kit includes a set of earphones with a built-in antenna, a larger-capacity rechargeable battery and an armband. XM monthly is $12.95 or, if you purchase the service annually, they give you one month free so it works out to be $11.87 a month.

Let’s talk car dock.
There are different options to get the SkyFi3’s content into your car’s stereo system. If the stereo has a direct connection input option, then that is the easiest, and you can connect the SkyFi3 that way. If not, there is the cassette adapter (if your car has a cassette player) or an FM transmitter to beam the signal to an open FM station on the car’s radio. If none of these solutions are doable then an effective innovation is the SureConnect. It’s a small sleeve that wraps around the bottom of your car’s antenna and sends music straight to the antenna while reducing interference. Delphi doesn’t want a single SkyFi3 unit to be returned because of a failure to connect so they have a glass adapter for those customers who don’t have an antenna. For the best connection there is an optional FM Direct adapter that plugs in-line between your antenna and the back of your car stereo. This requires car surgery in the sense that you take out the car’s stereo to access the plug in back of the stereo and (for most of us) that isn’t easy. The FM Direct ($20) turns the XM on and off and changes the FM signal from the antenna and substitutes the XM signal. The dock has aux input which is a good way to connect your MP3/iPod into the car’s stereo system.

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Setup
Good thing I’m not a neat freak because when I set up the SkyFi3 in my car there was a tangle of wires on the dash. I turned it on and the big-screen powered up. I switched to live XM and the easy-to-read display showed a long list of channels. Finding content was easy; you can search by artist, category, or channel. I liked the SkyFi3 buttons, but there are no preset buttons. I use SkyFi3’s built-in FM modular which broadcasts the XM signal to my car’s stereo. I notice the FM transmitter worked much better when the charger is plugged into the SkyFi3.

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Boom box
The Premium Sound System by Delphi has four docking connectors so it will work with the MyFi, Roady XT, Audiovox and SkyFi3. Plug it in or it can run on 8C batteries. It looks good and sounds good.

The SkyFi3 is well built and easy to use. The all-around functionality makes it a keeper. I wish it had a built-in antenna so I could use my good earphones in the portable mode. Not having preset buttons takes away from the final score. Still, a really good XM receiver that I bestow with an 9/10.

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