Manufacturer: Directed Electronics Inc. Part number: S50-TK1
- Bottom Line:
- The Sirius S50 is a compact and attractive satellite radio player, but users must learn to live within its limitations. It's best for car commuters who occasionally want a portable unit. If you want live satellite streaming on the go, you'll need the Delphi MyFi XM2Go or Pioneer's Airware XM2Go, which work with XM satellite radio.
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CNET editors' review
price range: $200.99
- Reviewed by: Troy Dreier
- Edited by: James Kim
- Reviewed on: 12/20/2005
The good: The Sirius S50 sports a small, sleek design, and it automatically stores music content for later listening. You can also schedule recordings from both music and talk stations (with a firmware upgrade), save favorite songs, and link up to a PC to transfer MP3 and WMA tracks.
The bad: The Sirius S50 has some limitations, including the fact that you can't see the song list for recorded music or set favorite channels for recording. Also, scheduled recordings can't be longer than two hours, and the S50 is available only with a car kit. In addition, the Sirius S50's controls are difficult to master, the docks lack preset channel buttons, and the unit has poor battery life.
The bottom line: The Sirius S50 is a compact and attractive satellite radio player, but users must learn to live within its limitations. It's best for car commuters who occasionally want a portable unit. If you want live satellite streaming on the go, you'll need the Delphi MyFi XM2Go or Pioneer's Airware XM2Go, which work with XM satellite radio.
by rpong on December 21, 2005
Pros: Compact, Light, Appealing sleak look, Appealing Graphical Interface
Cons: Minor bugs in the firmware, the 1st release of this product, minor annoyances
Summary: Let me first by saying I've read a lot of reviews both on CNET and other websites. I will give my unbiased opinion as I was not aware of ...
Summary: Let me first by saying I've read a lot of reviews both on CNET and other websites. I will give my unbiased opinion as I was not aware of this product and all the hype as many of the reviewers were.
The S50 has met my expectations of being a portal device which plays music I record from the radio. Yes, the RIAA have set some limitations but that’s to be expected in this new age of satellite radio. One of the restrictions being you cannot record a block of a music channel. I’m not concerned about this restriction as many of the reviews I’ve read are. The reason being is because I only record the songs that I like. Some of the songs on the radio I just don’t care for, therefore I choose not to record it. The longer you use this radio and record the songs you like the bigger your library. Eventually you wont care that you can’t record a block of music because you’ll have enough music to keep you happy anyway.
If you’re looking for a device to record specific songs you like when you hear it on the radio then this is the device for you. If you’re one of those people who like having 60gigs of memory to fit songs you wont even listen to, then you should stick to your ipod. It’s like those people who live in the city and have 400 horses in their engine but can’t use it cause they live in the city. Personally, I use this device at work and on plane rides so 4-6 hours of content and battery life is just enough for me. I really like being able to pick and choose which songs I want to record. It’s almost like downloading songs online and uploading them to your ipod without actually going through the hassle. I listen to a song, I like it, I click a button and can hear it later in its entirety.
One of the questions I had about this device before I bought it was, “Can I select to record a song in the middle of it and still expect the S50 to record the whole song?”. The answer is yes, the S50 design team thoughtfully took this into consideration. The S50 has a buffer which remembers the start of the song and will record the song in its entirety even though you select to record it after the song has been playing for awhile. I really like how the S50 starts and stops the recording at the beginning and end of the song.
The S50 unit itself is very light. To me it doesn’t seem like it was built flimsy. I tend to respect my electronic devices, especially at a $330 price tag. With regular use I cannot imagine breaking the device. However, I can see a teenager getting it for Xmas and breaking it through disrespect and abnormal use.
As with ANY new electronic device or software that is pushed out the market quickly, it have its little bugs. First off, when I try to record a song after switching to a new station it does not allow me to save a portion of the song. The S50 should let me just record a portion but it seems like a little glitch that was overlooked by the testers. Then again, I don’t know if I would really want to save a portion of a song anyways. Also, I left my device on the whole night to figure out how to record a talk radio station back to back to get around that 2 hour time limitation set by the RIAA. Howard Stern is more than two hours . Getting to the point, when I woke up the device froze and was unable to shut it down or reset it. Finally, I had to take the battery out and start it up. The news station did record however, so it probably froze afterwards. I haven’t been able to replicate the problem.
My recommendation is to buy the S50 from your local Circuit City or Best Buy and spend an extra $50 for the four year protection plan. The reason being is because I’m expecting this device to fail in the future either electronically or by normal wear and tear. You can return it easily and/or get a replacement with the defect corrected. I have a feeling this product was pushed out to the market a little early for the Christmas season. Much like the Xbox 360 and the IPOD Nano had their problems when it was first released. I know, it shouldn’t be like this but unfortunately the reality is it does happen. The extra $50 will buy you a new S50 when or if it fails in the next four years. Generally, Circuit City and Best Buy will honor their protection plans and will replace your S50 with a brand new one of a later model. I’ve done this with my Handspring “Palm pilot”. When Handspring was sold to Palm Pilot they just gave me a different brand of equal value more than two years later. When a newer, better, more reliable and bug free S50 comes out, I’ll probably find a way to break mine and trade it in for a brand new one. Thanks best buy!
I hope this review helped. Go Sirius!
29 out of 30 users found this user opinion helpful.
RIAA Seriously Crippled Device
by ecbrugby on December 21, 2005
Pros: Amazing Display, Very light and portable, Mechanicly easy to record single songs
Cons: You can not schedule recordings for music channels !, Controls are a little unintuitive, Home dock is a little flaky, Worst support I have seen for any product
Summary: I was very excited to buy this product. The fact that the S50 does not have the capability to listen to live satelite stream was not important as I had ...
Summary: I was very excited to buy this product. The fact that the S50 does not have the capability to listen to live satelite stream was not important as I had heard that the MiFi that XM offers had very poor reception anyways.
I activated the radio and soon found that I was unable to scuedule a recording for music channels; only talk/sport channels. I tried contacting Sirius support, but I gave up after 40 minutes on hold. I emailed support, searched the web and foind sever articles that mentioned that due to RIAA restrictions, the S50 had been crippled. Not only could you not scheule recordings for music channels, but you could only record one song at a time; neither of these items were reflected in the user manual.
The reason I got the S50 was that I wanted to be able to record a few hours worth of music overnight and take it to the gym...this was impossible to do with the S50. So, I very promptly returned it.
As a further insult, when I finaly recieved an email from their support (3 days after I send the email) all the tech did was regurgiate the user manual with instructions on the mechanisms of recording a channel. My email detailed how I was able to schedule recordings for talk channels, but I recieved a "Recording Not Permitted" message when I tried to schedule a recording for a music channel. So, it was clear that the tech barely read my email before giving me a useless response. I have to say that Sirius support is the worst I have seen for any product.
If you can live with the restrictions of the S50, than it is a very nice product...but be aware of those limitation because you will not get any usefull info from Sirius.
14 out of 14 users found this user opinion helpful.
If you get the Firmware update it is the best
by little_dc on December 21, 2005
Pros: Sirius Programing better then XM
Cons: not too many
Summary: If you get the Firmware update, like CNET did not, you can set up recordings on every station, even music ones. Hit one button, to save a song, I have ...
Summary: If you get the Firmware update, like CNET did not, you can set up recordings on every station, even music ones. Hit one button, to save a song, I have over 140 songs saved from SIRIUS, plus I have hours of talk shows, and my own Mp3s. The size is the best, I have had good luck with battery life. The display is better then any Ipod out there. It has to be the best Sat radio out there today! Controlls on car dock are a little small, but I use the remote in the car.
11 out of 11 users found this user opinion helpful.
Not bad for a first try...
by DezGMail on January 18, 2006
Pros: Size and style is iPod nano-like; Howard Stern!
Cons: Content management needs MAJOR improvements
Summary: I bought this for one reason only: Howard Stern. I like my music my way, on my iPod (not to mention that I am primarily a Mac user, so I ...
Summary: I bought this for one reason only: Howard Stern. I like my music my way, on my iPod (not to mention that I am primarily a Mac user, so I am not going to encode anything in Windows Mobile format).
The iPod nano-like appearance of the device is an eye-catcher; and when in a cradle (car or home), it's a joy to use. You can pause, rewind, fast forward live broadcasts, like TiVo, and a pleasant voice announces changes in channels, menu commands, etc.
Unfortunately, Sirius didn't consider that a great many users would be recording live talk (Stern) — scheduled recordings are limited to two hours. At the time of my purchase, the home dock was so rare I though it was an urban legend, so I had to dock it in my car. Programming is limited to 2 hour blocks, so Stern, whose show lasts 4-5 hours, has to be recorded in 2 hour blocks. The playlist arrangement is reversed: the first recordings appear at the bottom. So when you get to the end of the two hour block, you have to go to the Playlists menu and go UP to get the next two hours.
In a final insult, the broadcasts can't even me streamed through the God-awful Sirius player software, nor can it be exported to a different audio format. Now, I can understand not wanting someone to swap MP3's of the day's show, but to not even stream it through my PC? And the content appears in the same order as on the player; I couldn't figure out how to re-arrange it so that it played chronologically. The controls on the un-docked unit are cumbersome — why didn't they use something based n the wonderful simplicity of the iPod?
Finally...since I don't drive to work, the home dock was an absolute necessity for me. Unfortunately, not ONE unit was to be found in Northern California from December until now. Sirius way underestimated the number of subscribers. The unit claims 6 hours of battery life; but in my use, it got far less. During Howard's first week (which coincided with Macworld), the unit regularly gave out around the 4 hour mark.
On that note...Sirius customer support is non-existent. I waited on hold for 3 hours before giving up. Their web site (which relies heavily on Flash...ugh) is just as unhelpful. And the manual is far from comprehensive; it looks like it was written to cater to the most techno-phobic.
Sirius is experiencing growing pains, to be sure, so some of these faults can be forgiven. But the major limitations on content management remain, as well as the UI of the device when un-docked. Even if the shows could only be played through the Sirius software, I would be happy if I could archive them onto my PC so I could listen to them later, and have more room on the device for more Howard. I give it a 6: 9 for the content, 4 for the device, and 2 for the other issues.
5 out of 5 users found this user opinion helpful.
Really nice Sirius tuner, but it's no iPod
by mattstwocents on January 7, 2006
Pros: A lot of memory for recording, nice display, light weight, control it without looking
Cons: It's all plastic, may feel cheap to some, expensive
Summary: The S50 is the best Sirius tuner I've seen so far. I shopped for a while and settled on this one as the features warranted the large price tag. ...
Summary: The S50 is the best Sirius tuner I've seen so far. I shopped for a while and settled on this one as the features warranted the large price tag. Features like color display, channel branded backgrounds and 1GB of memory for recording cannot be found on any other tuner.
Recording is essential to portability. There are no Sirius tuners out there yet that do true portability but the recording features of the S50 satisfy my portable requirements.
I haven't had a problem with battery life yet but the battery is replaceable and small so you could have as many batteries as you need. The firmware upgrades are painless and the included software is decent.
The S50 can be operated without looking at the display because the interface has a built in screen reader. I found this feature unique and innovative.
The display is beautiful. It's front lit and needs to be to see the screen (which may explain battery performance).
I wish I could transfer saved content to my PC and I wish the S50 was build more like an iPod with aluminum casing instead of the grey plastic.
If you don't want to install this in your car (like myself since I have a tuner that integrates with my Alpine deck) and you don't want to shell out the bucks to get a Home Kit, the Car Kit will work in the home. The only thing you'll need is a power supply from you're local Radio Shack.
5 out of 5 users found this user opinion helpful.
Buy an regular mp3 player instead
by buddyw on December 14, 2005
Pros: Nice physical design; Clean, easy to use interface;
Cons: Only plays Live radio when docked; can't schedule recordings for music channels; Scheduled recordings limited to 2 hours each (Stern and most NFL games are longer); 6 hour battery life; Expensive;
Summary: PLEASE NOTE: This device can't record music Channels! The only thing that I wanted it for was the ability to listen to recorded Sirius music content. You can only ...
Summary: PLEASE NOTE: This device can't record music Channels! The only thing that I wanted it for was the ability to listen to recorded Sirius music content. You can only listen to live radio while the unit is docked.
For portable listening you can only schedule recordings for Talk radio channels (max 2 hrs.) or record individual songs manually (the recording stops at the end of the song). There is no way to automatically get fresh music content. This device is little more than an over priced MP3 player when being used portably.
The S50 is really only for people who need an 1GB Mp3 player (with a 6 hour battery life) that can also record the first two hours of Stern or a football game.
On the plus side it is a good hardware design and a clean interface.
BOTTOM LINE: you will get a lot better for a lot less if you just buy an mp3 player and keep your receiver separate.
5 out of 7 users found this user opinion helpful.
Problems at Start-off w/PC and LINE OUT connection, but then GREAT!
by intensityderen on January 24, 2006
Pros: Kit is COMPLETE, Screen is Beautiful, Voice Announce is nice, Recording is EASY
Cons: Difficult Start-up, Lots of Engine noise w/LINE OUT - took luck and troubleshooting before I was happy!
Summary: This review might save you hours of time! I read many reviews of the S50 before I bought it and NONE on them mentioned the issues I had getting up ...
Summary: This review might save you hours of time! I read many reviews of the S50 before I bought it and NONE on them mentioned the issues I had getting up and running. The first problem I had was with the PC connection. I installed the software and rebooted. When I plugged the Media portion (portable) into the USB, Windows XP PRO told me that the device had malfunctioned and there were no drivers available. After 1/2 hour of online research (I never found this issue in troubleshooting) I finally plugged the unit into a different USB on my PC and it worked fine. I had also read other reviews which made it clear that the firmware in the S50 MUST be updated through the Sirius Studio software to get good results, so I attempted to get that updated FIRST. Unfortunately, the version that the software updated my unit to was different than the one mentioned on the Sirius website, so I had to call to find out that they were behind in updating the website information and that my new firmware version was the most current.
I previously had the XM Roady II portable unit in my Land Rover. I DID NOT like the quality of retransmitting with the FM radio modulator (puts the CD quality to shame), so I ran a 1/8" to RCA Stereo "Y" cable to my receiver's AUX input and the quality was FANTASTIC! I also bought a Cigarette lighter plug assembly at Radio Shack for the lighter plug DC adapter and "hard-wired" the power plug behind the dash for a nice clean look. The XM Roady performed FLAWLESSLY in CD quality. I thought I would simply do the same with my S50. I changed out the unit, power supply and antenna and plugged it into the AUX input exactly as the Roady was. I was immediately immersed in ENGINE NOISE beyond belief! When I would rev the engine it would squeal unbelieveably! I soon realized that the S50 DOES NOT have noise suppression abilities like the XM Roady. After 4 trips around town to stereo shops, I finally picked up a Tsunami Ground Loop Isolator from Circuit City. I plugged the Ground Loop Isolator directly into the receiver's AUX RCA input and then plugged the RCA "Y" cable into the other end of the Ground Loop Isolator. PROBLEM SOLVED! I hope this saves someone's nerves cause mine were almost shot! By The way, I also had to buy a new "Y" cable at Radio Shack because the LINE OUT 1/8" plug on the back of the S50 is small and won't accomodate most high-end plugs (like Monster) that are fat in diameter. Radio Shack sells one that fits for $7.99 + Tax.
I was impressed with the contents of the Sirius bundle. It came complete with the A/C adapter, mounting arm, hardware, USB cables and pretty much everything else. The only thing missing was the home kit, needed to listen to Sirius stations through your Stereo receiver (unless you broadcast/retransmit from the internet like Windows XP Media Edition can do). It retails for $99.99 on Crutchfield.com. I went there and used coupon code 3A139 and got $10 off plus free shipping & no sales tax to Florida. My final price was $89.99.
Once everything was running, I sat down and read the user manual. I am not usually the type that does this, but with this unit I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! For best results you will need to get comfortable with the unit's many vague buttons. Now that everything is done and my Blood Pressure has returned to normal, I REALLY LOVE IT!
By the way, I left XM Radio because they put Christmas music over my favorite channel from Thanksgiving to Christmas without any warning. I believe that Sirius does a MUCH better job of catering their programming to a broader base of clients. Best of Luck!
3 out of 3 users found this user opinion helpful.
Meant for the successful, active business executive and not for kids
by SatelliteDave on June 29, 2006
Pros: Goes from car to office to home to gym seamlessly with great listening choices. Easy to use.
Cons: RIAA. Battery Life. Annoying DJs interrupt at times, but that is expected with radio.
Summary: Please do your research before you dismiss this great device. The complaints I read are mostly by consumers who appear not to be the target audience for the Sirius S50. ...
Summary: Please do your research before you dismiss this great device. The complaints I read are mostly by consumers who appear not to be the target audience for the Sirius S50.
Who this device is great for:
The successful business executive who has no time to play with download software, organize music on their hard drives or compile playlists. (Replace business executive with mother, father, or gainfully employed individual with very little free time due to their huge responsibilities. College and High School students go to mp3 player reviews.)
The Sirius S50 is a great companion to your old mp3 player. There is no reason not to have both devices. However, if you have been downloading since Napster was a lemonade stand and no longer have the time then this device will change your life.
I use the S50 at home, the office, the car, and the gym. The recording feature of shows, songs and channels keeps my 4 workouts per week fresh with new material to enjoy instead of hearing the same mp3s over and over on my IRiver 20GB mp3 player (which I love also). The S50 is lightweight and great for a workout.
Programming shows is simple on the S50. It even comes with a remote control people. How lazy does one person need to be? C’mon now.
The love button is great. If you like what you hear then you hit it and the S50 stores the song in your favorites. Deleting content is just as easy. Menus are easy to navigate and it holds up to 50 hours of satellite radio content. That is plenty of memory for a device for people with little free time. (It is a 1GB flash memory, which is great because there are no moving parts.) I store my mp3 collection on a 300GB Maxtor that is connected to my home theater. I don’t want or need that amount of memory on the road.
For those who have endless hours to surf on-line and download songs using P2P software or pay .99/song on iTunes then the S50 is not for you. Don't try to make this great device into something it was never designed to do. Basically, it was not designed to replace your mp3 player. Yes, you can load mp3s on the S50 and WMA files, but why would you want to do that? I can't even make Minute Rice. Who has that kind of time? I don’t even care if the S50 does not receive live satellite when I am in the gym. Honest, who cares? Satellite reception on any portable unit is not all that great. You have to be in direct site of the bird and I spend most of my time indoors.
One week I put 1500 miles on my car commuting up and down the Northeast Corridor from DC to NYC for work. I love KTU. Shout out to the Beat of New York! However, I cannot stand the reception changing on my AM/FM radio regularly and I grow tired of the songs on my iRiver. The S50 rocks.
The S50 has brought a welcomed and needed change to my music listening habits. It is a great device for me and my needs.
Did I mention how cool it looks? Check one out, but don't damn the device to eternal hell if you don't fit the demographic.
For a great review of all portable satellite devices available to date read the following:
3 out of 4 users found this user opinion helpful.
Sirius S50 delivers with class...
by lempilot on January 4, 2006
Pros: MP3 player, record Sirius content, color screen, great reception when docked, versatile
Cons: no internal fm modulator, no internal antenna (if they actually work), no home dock included
Summary: I have read many reviews about the S50. The verdict seems to be either people hate it or love it. I notice those that hate it voice the same concerns. ...
Summary: I have read many reviews about the S50. The verdict seems to be either people hate it or love it. I notice those that hate it voice the same concerns. For example, the main complaint is software restrictions and difficulties. First, the software can be modified to record songs from the player to the hard drive. Second, if it doesn't boot properly reload the firmware/software.
One other complaint that plagues the S50 is its inability to receive live Sirius content without a dock. Well, I agree but what are we actually missing. The reviews I have read about the XM Pioneer and Delphi models that boast portable antennas are plagued by poor reception when not docked. Not because they are bad units, but because satelite signals require a line of sight to acquire a signal.
The feature that I really miss is a built in fm modulator. Fortunately, if Portalplayer and Sirius comes to their senses they can produce an attachable fm modulator and antenna.
So, the question is why do I love my unit? Simple, it delivers what it promises. It is a radio and mp3 player. (I have not seen a review or advertisement that does not state that it requires a dock to transmit live Sirius content.) Plus, you can record songs from the live Sirius feed. Therefore, once you record all of your favorite songs who cares if you cannot record an entire two hour block of music at one time.
I know some people complain that they cannot record blocks of music. Trust me any software can be modified, alas, I have not gotten that far yet but realize the RIAA quietly imposed their will and I do not believe XM will be immune from its overreaching power either. So, if you want a Sirius unit that delivers MP3 performance with Sirius radio then this unit is for you.
Remember, if you purchase the unit, the first thing you must do is update the firmware via the internet and download the requisite software for your computer. I have not had one firmware/software problem with my S50 and neither has a friend who received one for Christmas. Second, take the plastic cover off of the battery. Which reminds me, this unit can receive a charge via the dock or USB connection. Yes, you can charge it when it is hooked up to your computer via the USB connection--this feature is over looked in every review I have read and it is an awesome feature.
Plus, the feature I love the most is that it will spontaneously record music from my favorite channels. Oh yea I almost forgot, if you do not want to buy a home dock you can purchase a 5 volt AC adapter for approximately $20.00. Thus, your car adapter can be used as a home dock. They should have included an AC adapter but then who would buy the home dock?
So in short, it delivers as an MP3 player/Sirius radio. If you want a radio that deliver portable live Sirius broadcasts wait a few months and your prayers will be answered. No, I do not work for or am affiliated with Sirius, Portalplayer, or XM. take it easy.
2 out of 2 users found this user opinion helpful.
Great Product and Company
by Jumper42 on June 1, 2006
Pros: Makes my work day fly by
Cons: need to constaltly download firmware updates
Summary: I have had my S50 now for 5 months and could not be happier. It did take sometime to setup, around an hour plus, and I had to read the ...
Summary: I have had my S50 now for 5 months and could not be happier. It did take sometime to setup, around an hour plus, and I had to read the manual to figure things out. One thing that sometimes bothers me is the need to constantly download new firmware updates. This is where alot of people have trouble because if you mess up on a firmware update it tends to hose up the S50, but each new firmware does give it more ************. As for the company itself I have not had one problem with support as other people have claimed. A few weeks ago my S50 quit pulling down the live signal, so I called tech support and after a few clicks it was up and running in no time and the tech was great, too. Now it is not truely protable but that has never bothered me since i have setup recordings to take place so I can listen to different shows. I would highly recommend anyone to buy this and also that sirius' content is 100 times better than XMs content, former XM subscriber.
2 out of 3 users found this user opinion helpful.
- Manufacturer: Directed Electronics Inc.
- Part number: S50-TK1
- Description: The Sirius S50 is an intelligent leap forward in Satellite Radio technology providing integration of both live and time shifted content for portable use, including MP3/WMA support and My SIRIUS Studio PC Software. The simplified user interface has a brilliant color screen, contextual media dial, and voice prompts for safe driving. Sirius S50 is a personalized satellite radio experience both on air and off. The many docking options have a simplified user interface for live content and up to 50 hours of intelligent time shifted playback. The slim portable player connects with the PC for downloading digital audio files from your personal music collection. The latest in Satellite Radio technology combines live reception within the home, car, or office with a portable player, which boasts a full color screen and over 50 hours of content storage. Add your favorite MP3's to recorded exclusive content from Sirius for personalized play lists with the PC Software. When placed in a powered dock with an antenna, the Sirius S50 receives live broadcasts from Sirius Radio and records content for playback in the home, car or when portable.
- Product type Sirius satellite radio tuner / digital player
- Flash memory installed 1 GB
- Color Black
- Depth 0.7 in
- Height 3.9 in
- Width 1.9 in
- Included accessories Belt clip,
Car power adapter,
- Digital storage None
- Addtional features Sirius satellite radio recording capability
Digital Player / Recorder
- Supported digital audio standards MP3,
- CD system type None
- Cassette system type None
- Tuner type Digital Sirius satellite radio tuner
- Station preset qty 30
- Tuning display LCD display
- MD system type None
- Headphones type Binaural Ear-bud
- Connector type 1 x Headphones
Battery / Power
- Battery Rechargeable
- Mfr estimated battery life 6 hour(s)
- Power device type [Feb 24, 2011 from CDS: Power Device] Power adapter
- Manufacturer profile
- Browse Directed Electronics Inc. products on Shopper.com
- Manufacturer:Directed Electronics Inc.
- Phone: 1-800-876-0800