Don’t Call It Internet Radio- Starplayer, A Pre-release Look UPDATED

On January 12, 2009

What do you call satellite radio when it is delivered over wifi? I don’t know what name to use but I would definitely call it "terrific".

Thanks to my Wayne from Gear Diary I’ve spent a good part of the last few days taking a look at a preview version of Starplayer an upcoming application for streaming Sirius or XM satellite radio through the iPhone. While it’s lacking some of the capabilities of the Pioneer system I had a few years ago (it looked like it was a throwback to the 70s but was  technologically advanced enough to be able to  buffer a few hours of music for listening when a stream was not available), they’ve done a very nice job with the application.

When you start the application for the first time you’re asked to give your credentials. Obviously you need to have is a subscription to either Sirius or XM. Fortunately you can get a trial account which is what I did. Once your credentials re accepted the channels load rather quickly. They look great and have all  There’s everything from "The Blend" to "Sirius XM Love", all of the various decade stations, "E. Street Radio (for the Bruce Springsteen lovers out there), AC/DC Radio, and the list goes on and on. Interestingly, while there is a good bit of talk radio including Martha Stewart, CNN and NPR, it doesn’t list Howard Stern — reason enough for my brother-in-law to write off the application immediately (that, and the fact that he doesn’t use an iPhone). I’m tod this is most likely because I was using a guest pass.

At the bottom of the screen you can choose from four categories — All Channels, Organization by Genre, Presets/Favorites  and search.

I’ve been listening to Sirius XM Chill. Once I pushed the button to launch station it took a few seconds to acquire the stream. The sound quality was quite good. In addition to being able to change the volume or the channel from the station screen, you can make it a favorite with a single tap. Three buttons along the side of the application provide some really nice choices. The upper button displays album art, the middle button displays lyrics (if they’re available), and the bottom button offers the option to either buy it from iTunes, Amazon, or e-mail channel information to yourself or someone else. (I’m particularly surprised that the purchase button offers the option to choose either iTunes or Amazon and I’ll be curious to see if this makes it into the final release of the application.)

They have done a fine job with the application. No, it doesn’t have the benefit of offering a few hours worth of saved programming for those times when a data connection isn’t available.  Then again, if you’re using  an iPhone how often is there an extended period when there’s absolutely no data connection available. Besides, last I checked most of us have somewhere between 8 and 16 GB of data space available for music — it is an iPod after all.