Yep, folks. That is right. I have been talking up the Sirius Stiletto for months now and I am unfortunate to report that this device is not what it was cracked up to be. It is considerably less. The Stiletto is Sirius' answer to true, portable satellite radio. XM has had a similar device for the better part of this year, and I expected the extra time Sirius put into the Stiletto to pay off, but it didn't. There is some good, like the included extended battery and ability to save songs, but then again, there is a lot of bad.
Jump to find out why I—the biggest satellite radio fanboy in the world—was disappointed with the Sirius Stiletto.
Inside the Box
It was like Christmas day opening up the box to the Stiletto. I had been excited for this device over the past few months and the time was finally here. The box came loaded up with the usual packet of software/booklets, antenna headphones, earbuds, USB cable, two batteries, charger and the Stiletto unit.
After doing my best Wolverine impression with the batteries, I popped on the extended battery and began going to town.
This is where the Stiletto takes its first negative hit. The dictionary defines a stiletto as a small danger with a slender, tapering blade. The Stiletto is less of a slender blade and more of a bulky brick.
Holding the Stiletto is like holding a small brick. It isn't very comfortable, it is just awkward to hold, and even more awkward when placed in the pocket for transportation (because it didn't include a belt clip).
The main controls were surprisingly pleasing. It has a rubber, circular wheel that was very easy to spin around, and pushing on each direction on the wheel acts as a button (think iPod). Around the wheel there are four corner buttons: back, home, options and display. The four buttons on the wheel are for pausing, rewinding, fast forwarding and recording.
The power button/hold switch and volume controls on the side aren't as pleasing. It seems like Sirius put too much effort into making those buttons look slim and sleek, rather than functional. It is a pain in the ass to turn the device on with the tiny switch and the volume controls are too small to begin with.
This is where the Stiletto takes a major hit. My first problem was trying to activate the device. To do so you need clear satellite reception and apparently standing out on the patio wasn't enough because of obstructions in the sky. I had to go outside into my parking lot with the antenna headphones to get clear enough of a signal to activate the Stiletto. Forget trying to use the Stiletto with satellite reception inside, unless you have the optional home kits that run upwards of $70.
For the review purpose, without having to take the pictures outside, I had to place the unit up against my patio door with the antenna headphones to get a single bar of reception, which cut in and out half the time.
So the Stiletto's satellite reception sucks indoors, that is where Wi-Fi comes in, right? Yes, somewhat. After painstakingly setting up my Wi-Fi network with the Stiletto, it was able to receive "Internet Radio," which is limited to the music channels and a couple talk channels, including Howard. It is limited to 802.11b Wi-Fi, so speed is a bit of an issue.
There are three options for listening to Sirius Satellite music: through satellite, Internet or recorded/saved music.
Listening to satellite radio through the Stiletto requires a couple things. First you have to be outdoors with a pretty clear shot at the sky. Feel like running in a forest? Nope. You also pretty much have to be wearing the antenna headphones. These ungodly ugly headphones wrap over the head and jam into your ears in a very uncomfortable fashion. See the picture above to get an idea what these headphones are like. You can listen to satellite radio from the Stiletto in the car, but that requires the optional $70 car kit. Also, listening to satellite radio eats the batteries (two hours with the slim battery, four with the extended).
Internet radio is the second listening option. First off, you have to be in a Wi-Fi network with good reception and access. The Stiletto will detect all of the networks in range and will allow you to connect and even enter the encryption codes. The sound quality for the Internet radio is absolutely horrible. It is maybe 32 kbps streams (which is probably a small step better than AM). Sirius does allow you to get high quality internet streams ... for an additional $3 per month. Lame.
Listening to downloaded music or recorded streams is the third option. While listening to the Stiletto in satellite mode, you can push the down button on the wheel and it will automatically record the song you are on. It is called the Stiletto 100 because it is capable of recording up to 100 hours, which is actually a measly 2GB flash drive. There is also the option to connect the Stiletto to your PC and put your own downloaded music onto the Stiletto.
I took this with me over the span of a day to test it out. I listened to it at home through the Internet radio, then listened directly to satellite on a walk to class, then listened in class through Internet radio again, then took it in the car listening to recorded music (I don't have the car kit and the weak antenna headphones didn't receive enough signal) and ended at home with Internet radio again. Overall, it was a pain in the ass to swap around between the different modes throughout the day. I would have much rather had my iPod that played the same no matter where I was.
The interface was pretty solid. It was extremely easy to navigate and operate. It also looks pretty on the 2-inch color screen. It can get a little laggy at times, but that is common with a lot of portable media player interfaces.
It also has a stock and sports ticker, which was definitely nice.
The bottom line: the Sirius Stiletto is an overpriced device that doesn't live up to the hype. Trying to listen to the device became more of a pain in the ass than the $350 price tag is worth. Add in the fact that it is not aesthetically pleasing and requires two $70 accessories to make this already overpriced device a little more functional, the Stiletto is definitely placed into the "overpriced p.o.s." category.