Sunday, July 30, 2006

New Sirius StarMate et al

On July 07, 2006, Wistron Neweb Corporation (WNC) received certification for a new StarMate model (FCC ID NKRUPAST205). The radio is essentially the same as the previous StarMate, except for they have eliminated the internal FM Loop antenna. Presumably, they will use the same technique as XM on its most recent satellite radios, utilizing a leaky coax antenna cable to transmit the signal and perhaps the power wiring as well. You can read more about it and see the pictures on Orbitcast.

Evidently, this technique produces superior results. The new Sportster 4 continues to use the internal loop antenna. The performance of the FM modulator has been widely criticized as weak. Many of the previous Sirius radios have been well over the limit. The technique used with the StarMate is an apparent attempt to overcome the shortcomings of the Sportster 4. The Sportster 4 is manufactured by Ki Ryung, while the StarMate is manufactured by WNC.

XM has been recently challenged by the FCC by how they were testing their satellite radios. Essentially, the new radios use the vehicle wiring as a radiator. This requires a different testing procedure. The FCC recently clarified this to XM. Since the vehicle wiring can't be defined, in situ testing is require is three representative installations: a small, medium, and large car. Reading the test report on the new StarMate, it appears that WNC did not follow the proper procedure either.

The new StarMate (or at least the same electronics) will be sold under six brand names:
  • Sirius (ST2)
  • WNC (UPA-ST2)
  • Radio Shack (ST2R)
  • Brix (SIR-GTR1)
  • AudioVox (SIR-PNP5)
  • USE a.k.a. XAct (XTR8)
The SIR-PNP series for AudioVox was previously built by Ki Ryung. It now appears that it will be built by WNC. The is true for XAct's XTR series (the Visor). It appears that WNC is pretty much taking over the manufacture of Sirius' satellite radio receivers. It is rumored that WNC will build Sirius' wearable, the Stiletto.

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