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Being cooped up indoors and away from people definitely has me looking for more ways to connect and find entertainment. That’s why I decided to try on a Sirius XM satellite radio subscription. I’m Erin TGC.com and since I wasn’t in the car, I enabled the Sirius XM app so I could listen at home or when I was out on daily walks. Here’s what I learned after spending several weeks with the service.
Getting the service up and running is easy enough. You can call the Sirius customer service centre to get yourself connected, or go to their website. (The set up for enabling your car audio is a bit different so I’ll skip that for now; you basically need your radio number from inside the car.)
Download the Sirius XM app and enter your login and password. The app is very user friendly and easy to navigate. I opted for the Streaming only package called Premier, which gives you 300+ channels from music, to talk, sports and Howard Stern.
To find some radio channels you might like, start with the Discover tab. You can see what’s available in Music, Sports, News, or Talk. The Discover tab will also recommend fan favourite channels and top-listened stations.
Got a few stations that you’re going to be putting on repeat? Tap on the station and then hit the star icon in the top right to mark it a favourite. When you go to your favourites tab at the bottom of the page, they’re all there; just like programming your presets on the car radio… only much easier!
When it comes to what I was listening to… I sampled a lot of content.
I’m loving Dr Laura’s no-nonsense advice on Triumph radio, LL Cool J’s Rock the Bells and Eminem’s Shade 45 have amazing hip hop and vintage hip hop, Symphony Hall and Chill stations are great for chill out background music to work to. There’s dedicated music stations in every genre, and ccurated by a bunch of amazing musicians.
There’s also a tonne of news and talk stations, from CNN, and Headline news, to Canada’s CBC Radio one and NPR.
While you can easily listen to your Sirius XM app online, on your phone or tablet, you can also stream to other devices like a Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Doing it is as simple as playing the show on your device and touching Deveices Available about halfway up the screen.
Choose your nearby device from the list to connect in a second. Then you can use the voice control of your smart digital assistant to play, pause and adjust volume.
Is your favourite show about to begin? Enable the reminder function and get a message just before the show starts! Make sure reminders are turned on on Settings, then click the ‘Set reminder’ button on the show you like. Does your car radio do that for you?
Let’s talk about the Benefits of Satellite radio
I’ve very quickly learned having the Sirius XM app has a lot of plusses.
Not only do you get access to a bunch of content, but you’re in control of how you access your content too. You can listen live, or restart a show from the beginning, or skim through it using the scrubber bar to skip the boring bits.
You can also go back and listen to the last few days of some shows using the app too. magic!
This has to be my biggest beef with this service: commercials. I’m old enough to remember when satellite radio started and it was meant to be commercial free; that’s what you were paying for it for. You’re still paying for it, so having to also listen to ads is a bit of an annoyance.
Some channels have ads running on the channel itself. Others, like CNN for example, where they’re broadcasting the TV signal, cut in with dedicated radio commercials during the TV breaks.
If you love sports, this entertainment package is pretty insane. Some of the higher tier packages including the All Access give you ever MLB, NFL, NBA, PGA NHL and NASCAR event and game all year long. No blackouts, no missed games, and no hunting for who’s carrying them.
From the Now Playing screen of an On Demand episode, scroll down and look for the Download button below the On Demand Episode name. You can also press and hold on an Episode to download it.
Overall I can’t find much that’s negative to say about Sirius XM’s app. I love how many channels there are, and there’s content for every need and want. It’s easy to flip around, the reminders are handy and the favourites setting makes it easy to dial up my preferred stations. There’s also a tonne of choice, meaning you don’t have to be bored if you’re sitting at home, or commuting
On the downside, it’s those pesky commercials on some channels. But really, there’s so many channels (and ways to avoid the commercials) that you can sidestep them if you want to. I also wish there was more offline listening options and more content available for download.