Sirius XM Keeps Its Promise

Sirius XM Radio (NAS: SIRI) finally has a Lynx sighting!

Sirius XM's website and audio electronics retailer began selling the advanced satellite radio receiver last night. Traditional retailers will shortly follow.

Yes, this is the same Lynx that was inadvertently leaked on Best Buy's (NYS: BBY) website back in October -- though it's not available through the consumer electronics giant's website at the moment.

Sirius XM 2.0 received plenty of hype earlier this year, only to come to a screeching halt when the original Edge receiver failed to live up to the promised expectations. Beyond offering access to roughly two dozen additional channels -- roughly half devoted to Sirius XM's underserved Latino programming -- the Edge wasn't really much of an evolutionary upgrade.

Lynx, on the other hand, is the real deal.

The small Android-based receiver streams music wherever Wi-Fi is freely available. There are also home, car, and portable docking systems that allow subscribers to play traditional satellite broadcasts. The dual nature of the radio will make it popular for those willing to pay a few extra bucks a month on top of the conventional satellite subscription to have access to the broader streaming service.

Lynx introduces the promised "Start Now" feature, giving the gadget "on demand" access to content stored in enough flash memory to record 200 hours worth of content. Taking another page out of the TiVo (NAS: TIVO) playbook, Lynx allows radio listeners the ability to pause, rewind, or fast-forward through recorded offerings. There's also a Tune Start feature that lets listeners hear a song they like from the start. Good luck trying to match that, terrestrial radio. Owners can also mix in their own music through microSDHC cards.

Lynx isn't perfect. Since the core receiver only plays back Internet content, it's not as if it will be useful for a jogger or commuter unless they're blanketed by free connectivity. The price -- $319.98 with either the vehicle kit or home docking system -- is also a bit steep.

However, Lynx does raise the bar here at a time when Pandora (NYS: P) is gaining major headway as an in-car streaming option for smartphone owners. Freeloaders will still flock to Pandora for a streaming fix, but Sirius XM is living up to its promise of taking satellite radio to a competitive level.

Back in August, Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin promised that there would be two Sirius XM 2.0 retail receivers hitting the market this year. With just a couple of days to spare, Karmazin has delivered.

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