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Polk Audio XRT12 XM Satellite Radio Tuner Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 March 2005
Article Index
Polk Audio XRT12 XM Satellite Radio Tuner
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The Downside
This is going to be hard. Most of my beefs are with XM’s service and not so much the player itself. In a perfect world, this tuner would also receive Sirius satellite, as both systems offer pretty strong, unique programming. For the hardcore music or sports junkie, it is perfectly reasonable to have subscriptions to both systems, depending on what kind of car you drive. It is possible many AVR readers already have subscriptions to both services. I fully understand this “downside” is an expensive one in terms of licensing and implementation and perhaps I am talking about a more expensive, bigger brother product for Polk. If they get inspired to make, say, a $599 version, be sure to also have a tuner for Internet radio, which will allow for even more niche programming in the same component without sacrificing the ease of use of the XRT12.

The player needs to add different video outputs other than composite video. I had to run an ugly composite video line from my preamp to my projector in order to view the onscreen display for this tuner. It would be much better if component video or S-video outputs were offered, so that you do not have to add more wires to your system when it is configured like mine.

With all the cool blue lights everywhere on the front panel of this tuner, it makes little sense that there is no backlit display, light or glow-in-the-dark buttons for the remote. The scrolling text for the onscreen display that you can view on your TV reminds me of my old-school Atari 2600. The scrolling upwards of the song information can make you dizzy; it would be nice if you could just have the info change when the song changes. I know that the scrolling prevents burn-in with your TV, but most modern TV sets would have to be left on for days before that happens.

At the time of writing this article, the XRT12 is one of only a few real offerings for audio enthusiasts looking to add satellite radio to their home theaters. Polk uses similar high-quality parts to what you would find in a good CD player and the XRT12 is impressive with its dynamic and realistic sound reproduction. For me, XM is for now the better of the two satellite radio services, especially if you are into more music than talk radio or sports programming. The advantages of satellite are many, especially when compared to FM.

If you have satellite radio in your car and have learned to love it, the Polk XRT12 is an affordable way to bring lots of excellent programming into your home theater. If you have never really played with satellite radio but have heard all of the hype, you might consider the nominal price of the Polk XRT12 for your AV system. Your system exists to play back excellent content and the XRT12 delivers it all day, every day, in ways we couldn’t have imagined even five years ago. The Polk XRT12 is a guaranteed winner and a stellar value.

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