Sunday, September 18, 2005

Pimping My Prius

Yesterday I added a Sirius satellite radio receiver to my Prius. It was an anniversary gift from Miss Karen, though I did the research on which satellite radio system to go with and which receiver to use.

I choose Sirius over XM based largely on Sirius’ programming content. They had more NPR and other public radio choices and they had more of the sort of “hippy music” and folk music that I like.

I do regret that Sirius doesn’t have the same access to baseball games that XM has. Sirius sells on having broadcasts of every NFL game. XM sells on access to all baseball games. To me, baseball is a great game to listen to while driving; football doesn’t work so well on radio. In the end, however, music and news were the deciding factors.

I went with a receiver from Factory Interactive that installs permanently in the car and uses the Prius’ in-dash touch-screen as an interface. Many folks like the portable units, which can be hooked up to radios in several cars and in the home. That’s a cost effective way to go, but I understand that you make a slight sacrifice in sound quality. I like the idea of having a system that works as an integral part of my car’s sound system. The mounting hardware of the portables also might be a problem. In practice, at home I use my laptop and the web to access music; at work it’s not an issue. Eventually, I may look into a portable – or another installed system – for the van. But that is a decision to make after living with satellite radio for a while, to see if we really want to go in this direction for the long haul.

Installing the unit was an interesting challenge. It ate up all of Saturday morning. The unit came with written directions and a DVD containing a step-by-step how-to video. I watched that video all the way through back at the start of the week when the radio first arrived. Yesterday, I put the laptop on a chair in the garage and followed it faithfully, step by step.

I would watch the fellow on the video – Jon – take the first step, hit pause, and go do that step on my car. Then back to the laptop for the next step. In some cases I would stop what I was doing and go back to watch again. Better safe, and slow, then sorry.

The interior construction of the Prius is fascinating. The dashboard comes apart in sections, each held in with pressure clips and, in a few cases, a few screws. Bits just “pop out.” Wires plug in. Everything fits together.

For an experienced person, the installation probably takes less than an hour. For those comfortable taking their car apart, a first time installation would probably take an hour and a half. I am a beginner. I was careful. I took three hours.

I had thought about photographing some of the steps, and posting shots of the interior of my car. Doing the installation, though, was challenge enough.

So far (I’ve only made a few short drives), I’m happy with what I’ve heard. The folk channel gave me some tasty Dylan covers yesterday evening, vintage Arlo Guthrie, and several of the new artists that I like but who I rarely hear on broadcast radio, especially here in southern Delaware. I switched over to the Jam-Band channel at one point and hit on a nice, live, acoustic version of El Paso, by the Dead.

This will work.


The Delawarean said...

Good choice Mike. If I had it to do over again now, I'd pick Sirius too. At the time I bought mine XM had the edge on hardware and that was my decision maker. But now Sirius has caught up (and passed) them in many aspects, and if I didn't invest so much into the hardware I have now, I'd be jumping satellites. The only thing I'd be losing that I'd miss is the Big 10 football games they have contracted.

Doug said...

Hello. I found your blog while searching "Prius Sirius" on Google. I am upgrading my non-JBL Prius system and I am planning on getting the SiriusPrius unit from Factory Interactive. I recently intalled Infinity Kappa speakers and will be adding a subwoofer with an external amp as soon as I save up the money.

I'll be keeping an eye on your blog via my Firefox browser feed.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyway anybody can tell me how to get more than 10 characters of text on the name and title screen? The text screebn is truncating the words when there is clearly room for 30-50 letters.

Mike Mahaffie said...

I'm afraid the 10 character limit is pretty much it, at least with the set-up I use.

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