I never tire of checking out what’s new in the world of satellite radio. Here’s a dandy dad or maybe AND grad gift, the new SIRIUS Sportster4 I’ve been testing.

First, you know there are two satellite radio providers, XM and SIRIUS.  They are BOTH good and I like them BOTH, so the question becomes which do you want.  It’s the programming and the radios available.

Both providers offer commercial free music and lots of it, as well as loads of other programming, some of it the same.  I want to talk about what SIRIUS offers in this article. You’ll find information on my XM product evaluations in other articles.  Do a search on the Website.

This new radio, this Sportster4, looks good and it weighs only 4.2 ounces, plus, it’s 40 percent smaller than the previous Sportster Replay which I liked very much. It has a large and easy-to-read display that shows artist and song title or game scores.  Not such a big deal. They all can do it except for a few that have had a single-line display.  But I really like the look of this one.  I also like the feature allowing pause, rewind and replay of up to 44 minutes of live SIRIUS programming in the event you are interrupted while on the road or listening at home through the home kit.

Of course, there’s a wireless remote control.

Sportster4 has 30 station presets, parental controls, a real-time satellite updated clock with 7 times zones, auto shutdown and sleep timer. The kit includes the receiver, remote control, vehicle docking station, suction cup and vent clip mounting options with a standard AMPS bolt pattern and auxiliary input for MP3 players, vehicle power adapter and magnetic ultra low profile antenna.

Selling for $170, it’s also familiarly easy to use, at least to me. Even if you’re a newbie to SIRIUS, I think you, your dad or especially your grad will find it a snap to get to know and operate.

The SIRIUS Game Zone feature lets you hear your favorite sports teams’ games and view scores on the screen, while the SIRIUS Game Alert tells you when your favorite team begins playing and when scores change.

Programming?  That’s what’s different with SIRIUS. It’s Howard Stern and his merry compatriots, of course, that have created the public buzz for SIRIUS of late.  Love him or leave him, there are also other wacky shows on the TWO Howard channels – 100 and 101.  I confess, I listen occasionally to Howard and to the afternoon craziness of Bubba the Love Sponge – NEITHER are for kids! There are other SIRIUS-only choices. Have a look.

It’s also the sports. As part of its 125 channels of programming, including commercial free music, news, talk and entertainment, SIRIUS broadcasts play-by-play action from more than 350 professional and college teams including coverage of the NFL, NBA, NHL, AFL, Barclays English Premier League soccer, the Wimbledon Championships and live coverage of several of the year’s top thoroughbred horse races.

SIRIUS is the only radio service that provides listeners with every NFL game, and airs over 1000 NBA games per season, plus up to 40 NHL games per week. SIRIUS also features programming from ESPN Radio and ESPNews. And, starting in January 2007, SIRIUS becomes the exclusive satellite radio home of all NASCAR races and a 24-7 dedicated NASCAR talk channel.

So, if your recipient is an auto-racing fan or follows anything listed above, it’s got to be SIRIUS.

The radio works great in my car and also at home with the optional home dock.  I have installed it using the windshield mount, which is a very nicely designed and holds the radio solidly to the glass.  Sound is played through my installed FM radio and sounds just fine to me.

How much is SIRIUS programming?  Monthly charges are $12.95, less with annual subscriptions and for additional receivers up to four.

Check into SIRIUS and the new Sportster4 receiver. You’ll like what you hear.

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