Great Radio on the Road Why the new satellite-radio services are worth the price
By Stephanie D. Smith

(MONEY Magazine) – What makes a five-hour road trip more boring than watching a spoonful of jelly harden? Making the drive without a decent radio station. That's when satellite radio pays off. You can listen to a vast assortment of music styles on 100 or more crystal-clear stations from XM Satellite Radio or Sirius whether you're in Arizona or Alabama.

There are three ways to tune in. You can buy (or rent) a car equipped with a satellite-radio receiver (a $300 to $400 option). Some 100 new models have one. You can replace your car radio with a satellite-radio receiver and tuner from makers such as Pioneer and Kenwood at Best Buy or Circuit City ($300 to $600, including installation). Or you can buy a portable XM or Sirius receiver from any electronics store for $100, plus $50 to $70 for a unit that connects the receiver through a cassette adapter or your FM radio.

Once you have your hardware, you pay $10 a month for XM's 121 channels or $13 for Sirius' 105 channels. We found Sirius' channel listings easier to use but were happy with both services. In fact, we listened to an '80s station on Sirius for three days straight without hearing a song we didn't like (Pat Benatar rules!). When we eventually changed channels, we found NBA basketball, a debate on the Hungarian food supply and truckers' conversations about improving truck stops (add hot tubs). The only hitch: We lost reception at tollbooths.

Most experts agree that you get better sound quality with factory-installed equipment, but the portables have one plus: They display the full name of the artist and song, so you'll know which Beyoncé remix you're listening to.