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XM Bows 1st Home Hi-Fi For Its Service

8/23/2004 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Proclaiming itself the fastest growing audio format to date, XM Satellite Radio made a concerted push into the home hi-fi market with the unveiling of the first dedicated component-style XM tuner.

The tuner, due from Polk Audio in November, will complement three other dedicated home XM tuners from Audio Design Associates, Crestron and Russound. Those products, however, are designed for use only in custom-installed distributed-audio systems and custom home theaters. The $329-suggested Polk tuner can be used as a stand-alone add-on to any home audio system, though it can be integrated into custom systems via its RS-232 port.

Polk Audio's XM Reference Tuner 12, which also incorporates AM and FM tuning, has a 17-inch component sized chassis and a signal-to-noise ratio better than 80dB, said the company. It's one of several new fall XM products unveiled here last week aimed at broadening the “lifestyle” appeal of XM, said the company.

Among other highlights was a new SkyFi2 plug-and-play receiver, the first satellite radio product to incorporate a 30-minute memory buffer to replay songs from any channel.

XM, which recently passed the 2.1 million subscriber mark, mainly through the car audio channel, said it sees home audio as an important part of its growth, with senior VP product marketing and distribution Dan Murphy noting, “We view the home market as a huge future growth opportunity.”

Polk Audio research found that 50 percent of XM users own a component audio system and more than 60 percent are interested in a dedicated home audio receiver, according to chairman Mathew Polk.

In an update to the best selling satellite radio product to date, Delphi showed the SkyFi2 receiver with a new 30-minute buffer. It also adds a rewind and fast-forward feature so users can replay a favorite song or skip unwanted songs within the sound buffer. The SkyFi2 also delivers sports scores and a stock ticker, favorite song alerts and a built-in FM wireless transmitter in the car kit. Also new is a brighter screen with better off-axis viewing, said Delphi. The SkyFi2 is expected to ship in October at $129.99 plus $69 each for the home and car kits.

Also on view here was the Cambridge SoundWorks' new PlayDockXM — a hi-fi boombox for the Roady2 XM plug-and-play receiver. It has a built-in 10-hour battery and an extra bass speaker and is expected to ship in September at $199.

In addition, Audiophase showed a new XM boombox with a built-in XM receiver plus AM/FM radio. Called the Skybox, it is expected to ship in October at $199.

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