I've always chosen an iPod over ordering either of the two satellite radio providers, XM and Sirius, for one simple reason: I can listen to only what I want. With satellite radio, you pay a monthly fee, around $13/month, and get a bunch of channels, most of which I've found I'll pass right by on the dial. The thought of paying for dozens of channels I don't like just never thrilled me.

Thanks to the upcoming merger between XM and Sirius, however, my biggest complaint with satellite radio might soon be gone. According to the companies, two new a la carte plans will be offered about a year after the merger goes through. The first will cost $6.95/month (very reasonable) and allow a subscriber to pick 50 channels from either XM or Sirius. Unfortunately, with this plan you can't mix and match Howard Stern on Sirius with Oprah on XM. Step up to the $14.95 a la carte plan, however, and you'll be able to choose 100 channels on either service. These are great options and in our estimation deliver a better product to the subscriber than either satellite radio provider ever did on its own.

There will be more plans revealed ahead of the merger's conclusion, and the companies say that those who own either XM or Sirius branded players right now will be able to receive some stations from the other service, but not all. No list of which stations are excluded from each service's hardware was given at this time, however. Receivers sold after the merger, we're sure, will be able to tune in the gamut of stations offered by both providers.

[Source: Kicking Tires]