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Satellite Radio Envy

By Leslie Walker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 7, 2005; 4:23 PM

One measure of what's hot is who's trying to piggyback. By that measure, the Apple iPod music player and satellite radio must be on fire.

By the time I walked the second vast CES hall, I stopped counting how many companies are here peddling accessories to satellite radio or the iPod.

Stephanie Walaszek of Xact, an electronics firm, shows a boombox Xact makes for Sirius Satellite Radio to George Wilson of Oakland, Calif. (Leslie Walker - The Washington Post)

George Wilson of Oakland, Calif., stopped by a gearmaker's booth to play with a portable satellite radio boombox and wound up falling in love with the Sirius Satellite Radio service it is built to play. (Click here for a version of this posting with a photo of Wilson checking out a Sirius receiver.)

"Not that I listen to that much radio," Wilson said, "but I really like the fact that you don't have all the restrictions of the FCC telling us what you can do and say on the radio."

Wilson said he's almost ready to sign up for Sirius or XM Satellite Radio, as did many other folks I chatted with here.

And when I bumped into Winfired Laasch, a television editor from Germany's 3sat TV service, and asked what was the coolest thing he'd seen, he didn't hesitate.

"Satellite radio," Laasch said, adding that he envied Americans because Germany doesn't have it yet.

Both satellite radio firms rolled out new stuff here. Sirius touted a bunch of new radio receivers and tuners, along with plans to deliver video over its network next year.

XM, the leader with 3.2 million subscribers, also announced a new lineup of portable radio receivers. It touted new talk hosts coming soon to XM, including Dr. Laura Schlessinger and G. Gordon Liddy. And speaking of accessories, XM talked up a new "connect and play" standard designed to make XM more compatible with other audio devices.

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