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E. Brad Meyer at CES 2002

Satellite Radio - Page One

The only story that looks as though it might be significant in terms of market impact is the introduction, at long last, of satellite radio. That means radio broadcasts received in cars from a network of satellites, offering around a hundred channels of digital stereo that you can pick up from coast to coast. Well, not quite; it has trouble in deep urban canyons. But you can listen to the same station all the way across the western plains, which has never before been possible, and many of the channels are commercial-free. You have to buy a whole new car radio, or a new receiver to supplement your own, and install a small new antenna to pick up the satellite signal. When the system is working you sign up and pay $10-13 per month for the service. Initial reaction from early adopters has been very positive, and sales figures for the one service that's actually broadcasting now rival or exceed those of the early days of either CD or DVD.

This is almost exclusively an automotive technology right now, so you may wonder why it's so important. Remember, though, that the car audio market is now bigger, in dollars, that home audio, and that much auto sound technology gets carried over into home audio. (In-wall speakers are mostly re-engineered car audio gear, and so are some small video satellite speakers.) Besides, satellite radio's first users already seem to want a way to listen to the same programming at home.

There are two major players in the game (sound familiar?) with, of course, incompatible systems. One is XM radio; they're already selling radios nationwide with about 30,000 users, having done their rollout first in San Diego and Dallas. The other is Sirius Satellite, whose satellites are up and whose service will begin in Houston, Denver Phoenix and Jackson, Mississippi on February 14, then in Albuquerque,Tulsa, Little Rock and Dallas/Fort Worth (in May), then in Indianapolis, Nashville, Tampa and Miami in late June, with nationwide availability in late July.

Notice that you haven't heard a word about New York, Boston, Chicago or Los Angeles. This product is, like satellite TV, mainly for red America, not blue America.

Remember the diagrams in the paper after the last election, when Gore's territory formed a blue fringe around the big cities, with a vast red sea of Bush states in the middle? Check the Atlantic monthly's web site for a wonderful article from mid-2001 on the differences between these territories, but for now just remind yourself that red America knows things that blue Americans don't, like how to clean the deer you've shot and prepare it for the freezer, and how to identify the rank of an army officer by looking at his insignia. Red America drives long distances all the time, and lives away from cities, and they love being able to traverse the great western plains without losing a station. (Another reason to concentrate on rural areas is that satellite reception, which requires a separate antenna on the trunk lid or roof, depends on line of sight to the bird, and urban canyons are going to need repeaters to prevent dead spots.) []

Satellite Radio Page Two...


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Latest additons 1st February 2002:

Sherbourn Technologies P7/1000
Sherbourn Technologies 5/1500A
DTS In-Car Audio Demonstration
DTS Multimedia Demonstration
Philips Pronto Remote Controls
Philips DVD+RW Recorders
Simaudio Titan & W-5 Amplifiers
WAVAC Audio Lab Model HE-833
conrad-johnson PV-12L & 17LS
conrad-johnson GAT
Quad ESL-989 & Verity Audio Tamino
Avantgarde Acoustic Duo & Uno
NHT Evolution Loudspeakers
NHT Evolution Theory & Design
Joseph Audio Loudspeakers
PS Audio Ultimate Lab Power Cable
PS Audio Power Director & Juice Bar
PS Audio Classic 250 & HCA-1 Amps
Morel Applause & Octave
Anthony Gallo Acoustics Due
Miller & Kreisel Multi-Platform
Miller & Kreisel Column Surrounds
Lamm Industries L2 Reference
Vacuum Tube Logic TL 2.5.1
McCormack Audio MAP-1 Processor
Cary Audio CAD-88 Amplifier
Toshiba Blue Laser Prototype
Draper Revelation & Hi-Def Gray
NHT Evolution Subwoofers
Von Schweikert Audio dB-99


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Show report last updated: 1st February 2002 ~ 368 original images on-line.

 

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