I couldn’t resist any longer. I visited my local Fry’s and bought a MyFi the other night. What’s not to like? It’s great for the car, at home and anywhere on the road. I figured it was a better solution than an MP3 player because I could listen to live broadcasts and always hear something new.
That’s all wonderful, but the darned thing just didn’t work. Or should I say, it didn’t work here in central Indiana. I read several reviews of the device on sites like Amazon and Circuit City. Most of the comments were favorable, but every so often I came across one that was critical of the weak signal. XM apparently has repeaters set up in the larger cities, but if you’re in a smaller metropolitan area, you’re 100% reliant on the satellite overhead.
All the ads, the website, etc., make the MyFi look like a completely untethered solution for high quality audio. You’d never know that by looking inside the box. There must have been a dozen different antennas and add-on components for the main device. There’s one antenna to use at home and another for your car. What bothered me the most is that you’re even supposed to wear yet another antenna if you’re not using the home or car one. The “wearable” antenna is no small object either – good luck trying to accessorize around this thing! I found that even when I had the wearable antenna plugged in, the signal would come and go.
Needless to say, I returned the MyFi the next day. The XM representative tried to sell me on one of their other radios, but they’re only for use in a car or at home, not in between. He finally acknowledged that this is a “first generation” product and that they’re working on improvements. I love the idea and I’m sure I’ll try the next version. In the mean time, I’m stuck listening to radio the old-fashioned way.
On a related satellite note, I had the pleasure of flying on Frontier airlines recently. What a treat. Besides having very clean jets that always left and arrived on time, they offer DirecTV service for $5. There were about 30 stations to choose from, including both ESPNs, ESPN News and ESPN Classic. It’s a great way to help pass the time on a long flight. But it got me to thinking… If DirecTV has the ability to enable concurrent viewing of 30 channels on a plane, why do they limit you to one channel per tuner in your home? Jim Minatel tells me it’s because they can get the bars to pay a much higher monthly rate for multi-channel service and DirecTV doesn’t want to lose income from those premium subscribers. Couldn’t they more than make up this loss by the dramatically increased volume in subscriptions? I mean, that whole “one-tuner, one-channel” limitation is the only reason I never left cable for satellite. I’ve got to believe that’s been a deterrent for plenty of others who never made the switch. Wouldn’t this put a huge dent in the cable business if the satellite people could figure this out?!