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XM Radio Mobile (on BlackBerry) Satellite Radio Service

At a Glance
  • XM Satellite Radio XM Radio Mobile on BlackBerry

    TechHive Rating

    Streams 20 popular XM Radio channels on most recent BlackBerry smart phones--but don't expect flawless performance.

XM Radio isn't new to smart phones--AT&T and Alltel offer it on selected handsets--but until recently customers of other carriers were out of luck. Now, however, owners of any recent BlackBerry (with version 4.2 or later of the OS) can get a pared-down version of XM's satellite radio service, regardless of carrier.

You can download QuickPlay Media's XM Radio Mobile on your BlackBerry over the air, either by texting 47201 with the message XMBB (this brings back a link that initiates the download) or by navigating your browser to xmradio.com/bb. Either way, you must provide an e-mail address (but no credit card info is required to initiate a free one-day trial). In my tests with a BlackBerry Pearl on T-Mobile's network and a Curve on AT&T Wireless, the entire download/installation process via each carrier's EDGE network took only a couple of minutes.

The app gives you access to an $8-a-month service with 20 XM channels--mostly rock and pop (including the popular '60s, '70s, '80s, and '90s channels), but also two country, two comedy, one jazz, and one classical stream. Once you choose a channel, the split-screen interface shows what's currently playing on top, while affording easy access to the other channels on the bottom via a flip-through menu; on that menu you can see what the other channels are playing at any given moment, too. You can keep the music playing even when you're running another application.

I experienced a few glitches: Switching stations always took at least a few seconds, and sometimes the service simply couldn't tune in a channel immediately (it would tell me to try again later). When a new song started to play, the display often lagged behind, showing the just-completed tune's info for quite a few additional seconds. While I did encounter some infrequent dropouts, the sound quality of the audio streams over the EDGE and Wi-Fi networks that my test handsets supported was generally acceptable--but I found it no match for a moderate-bitrate audio file played directly from the same devices.

Still, for BlackBerry owners who don't want to bother with ripping or downloading tunes and creating playlists, QuickPlay's service delivers on its promise of easy access to some of XM's most popular content without requiring that you carry an extra device (or go outdoors for satellite access).

--Yardena Arar

This story, "XM Radio Mobile (on BlackBerry) Satellite Radio Service" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • TechHive Rating

    Streams 20 popular XM Radio channels on most recent BlackBerry smart phones--but don't expect flawless performance.

    Pros

    • Easy-install, handsome, intuitive interface
    • XM Radio without an extra device or antenna

    Cons

    • Limited channel selection; occasional dropouts
    • Channel changes are slow, track info can lag
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