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Pioneer Inno XM Player - First Glance

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The Pioneer Inno portable XM player delivers a lot of value for the price (~$249 retail).  It's a portable solution for the person who likes to listen to music both at home and on the road without buying a two separate XM units.  Here are some of the great features of the Inno:

  • Bright Color Display.  It has a bright color display that clearly shows the artist and title of the song that you're listening to.  It also allows has three display modes that allow you to show your favorite stock picks, scores for your favorite sports teams, and a larger scrolling marquee (useful when used at home with the home kit).
  • Digital Audio Recorder.  It can also record the digital music you listen to on XM, much like the DVR or TiVo for your home cable or satellite TV system.  As long as the receiver is on the station during the time when the whole song is played, you can record the song no matter how far along it is.
  • Doubles as an MP3 player.  It comes with software that allows you to use Napster to download MP3s into the Inno and you can also make mixes with your recorded songs and your stored MP3s.

In addition to the features above, there are a couple great accessories that are available for the player that allow you to listen to your favorite music no matter where you go:

  • Home Kit.  The home kit comes with an indoor home antenna, home dock, remote, audio cable, and power cable.  It was very easy to install the home kit to my existing stereo system.  You need to mount the Inno sideways in the home dock but what's cool is that the display also turns sideways so you can still read the text!
  • Car Kit. The car kit comes with a portable antenna, car dock (it's similar to the home dock), car charger, tape adapter, remote, and air vent mount.  No worries if you don't have a tape deck, the Inno comes with a built in FM transmitter so you can listen to it through you car stereo.  Another option would be to connect the home dock to the ipod jack that most cars have these days to get optimal sound quality.
  • Antenna Headphones.  XM makes headphones with a built-in antenna inside.  This is great for people who do a lot of outdoor activities like running.  Personally, I like to use them when I go snowboarding so I can stay plugged in while on the mountain.

Although the Inno is a great player, there are a few minor drawbacks to the player and its options:

  • Memory Partition.  I didn't plan to load MP3s on my Inno because I have an ipod to listen to my downloaded music.  My primary use of the Inno memory is to record XM content.  I've been recording tons of music and it's starting to get full and I recently discovered that you can set the memory partition to have either all XM or MP3 music.  The problem is...if I set my partition now I'll erase all the music that I've downloaded to this point.  Since I can't upload my recorded music onto my computer, I'm pretty much stuck at this point.
  • Indoor XM Antenna.  The indoor antenna is great most of the time but sometimes the signal cuts in and out because the antenna is indoors and doesn't get the best signal strength unless you either place it in the right spot or expose it to the southern sky (where the XM satellite is).  If your house or apartment isn't facing the south, you may want to consider getting a larger XM antenna and mounting it externally to get the most exposure.
  • Car Kit Vent Mount.  The car kit is great except for one thing - the air vent mount.  This thing totally sucks and doesn't clip securely onto any air vent.  If it does clip in somewhat securely it'll definitely fall off when you hit a bump in the road.  I highly suggest getting a more secure mount such as a suction cup window mount or a floor mount that screws into one of the front passenger seat bolts.  Much more secure.

Overall, I would give the player a 4.5 out of 5.  It is definitely my most played with toy this holiday season and I'm definitely getting my money's worth.  Definitely worth every penny if you're a hard-core audiophile.


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