The upside of being without my satellite radio is that, now I can wistfully peruse new music gadgets. Apple just
release a new set of iPods, and XM makes some interesting equipment for their satellite radio service. If you are
looking at getting a portable music device, here is how I see the cost comparisons:
|Music Service||Equipment||Monthly Subscription Cost|
As you can see, it's going to be about the same cost either way you go. My equipment cost was based on a
docking receiver with a home and car kit. Both companies offer very similar equipment. Sure, cheaper equipment
is available, but for what I'm looking for, I would expect to pay no less than $200.
Now that covers a satellite radio subscription, but what about the MP3 player route. Our local Fry's currently
has a deal on the old model iPod Nano 4GB model for $150. That's enough to store 1,000 songs, which is probably
the limit of my current CD collection. Apple isn't the only company to make MP3 players either. Creative, Rio,
HP, RCA.... they all have competitive products, and usually at lower prices. Of course, the equipment is only half
the battle here. You would then need to purchase your own music (ostensibly through the iTuned music store, or
some other music server... you don't pirate your music do you?). The one thing I really like about my satellite
radio service is that I didn't have to think about the playlist. There were a couple of streams that played music
styles that I new I liked, and about every other week they updated their set with the latest in that genre. I heard
some music that I loved that I probably wouldn't know about if I had to find it on my own. So let's try to make it
a true apples to apples (no pun intended) comparison of satellite radio to a MP3 player. Let's say you choose the
new 4GB iPod Nano, or some comparable MP3 player. That's $200 for your equipment. Now let's load it with music.
To do that, let's say that each month you purchase 10-15 songs to freshen up your playlist. At 99 cents a song,
that's $10-15 per month. That's really close to a $12.95 / month average.
What you can't put a price tag on is
putting together the playlist for yourself. Some would view the chance to decide which songs to play and when as
a major advantage of an MP3 player. Others see it as a drawback, and like the ID of a professional DJ introducing
them to new music in the genres they already like. I think I belong in the latter. I'm not into the music scene
enough to know what's new, nor do I really care which order my songs are in, just so long as it is in the style
I like. For me, I think the satellite radio route is probably the better fit.