I'll answer the two big questions first: Howard Stern? yes. Do you need to keep clicking a button so the radio doesn't shut off? no (see comment below). At least, as of right now. The radio is capable of both software and channel updates.
update: As of now, the Sirius website requires a human click every 90 minutes for streaming audio. This particular radio will play for hours without intervention but will eventually shut off. These features may be updated at whim by Sirius through software updates.
How does it sound? It sounds exactly as described - it's meant to be a tabletop boombox. It's the perfect companion for garage, laundry room, or kitchen. Don't expect real high fidelity sound out of these speakers. It has both a headphone jack and line out jack so it's possible to use amplified speakers or route the output into your home stereo system. When the line output is fed through my home stereo system the sound is wonderful. However, when I plugged my iPod into the aux input I was not impressed with thee quality, which I fault the iPod for.
I've been waiting for a gizmo like this ever since I subscribed to Sirius. I am an apartment dweller with no means for an outdoor antenna. Sirius works great in my car, but the only way I can listen at home is by being chained to my computer. Sirius has always made possible streaming audio from their website. But, every 90 minutes you need to click on the dead man's switch to keep the music flowing. This radio works exactly the same as the Internet streaming but is self-contained with a beautiful display. It also functions as a clock radio, although it's a tad big for the nightstand.
Before purchasing, it's best to become familiar with how streaming audio works on their website. You will need to purchase Internet streaming ability from Sirius in addition to your radio account. Be sure this is all working first.
The radio connects to your local area network via wired Ethernet or wireless with an external 802.11 antenna. You have all the settings available to you - enter the IP address of your choice or select dhcp via wired or wireless. I had a small gotcha, which was it wouldn't connect via WAP so I needed to configure my router for WEP. Everyone is tending to move away from WAP so this was a necessary evil. I entered my ASCII key and it connected just fine. My Sirius username and password worked right away. If you have MAC address filtering, you can retrieve the address via the menus.
The tuner works similar to that of a dashboard radio with a turn and push to click dial. Menus are accessed fairly easily, but it took a little while to get into some of the settings. The first thing I wanted to set was the clock and DST. Be advised that automatic time setting is on by default. The first day, I had to wrestle a bit to get it on the right hour of the day - so, don't set any alarms until you work all this out or put the clock into manual settings if you don't trust it. It's all configurable.
The display has a wonderful signal strength indicator so you can place it for the best reception or switched to wired Ethernet. There is no option for batteries, so you will need an AC outlet and the radio is amazingly heavy for a small box. It has automatic or manual brightness and a remote control, plus an input jack for a CD player or iPod, but no interconnection cables are provided. The display presents the channel name and song name with a nice volume control knob.
If you have Sirius and you're looking for speakers for your iPod or iPhone, get this radio instead of amplified speakers. I'm extremely happy that I can finally listen to Sirius in any room at home without an antenna. You'll need a solid, reliable broadband connection to operate this radio else you will hear dropout's and interruptions. This is not the fault of the radio. Again, test out the streaming audio on your computer first.
edit 2/14/12 - it was great while it lasted. My radio is now suffering from the same connection problems which others have reported. First it would not connect to the network at all. After powering off, unplugging, factory reset, and entering my credentials a few times it started to work again... for two weeks. Now it connects, starts to buffer, then says network timeout. At least I got a few years out of it but would hesitate to buy another one. Other manufacturers are catching up on streaming Internet radios since I wrote my first review. The prices are also coming down.
edit 9/22/13 - I tried Grace Digital for streaming radio and it turned out to be a nightmare. So, I returned to Sirius to purchase another tabletop radio. I plugged it in, ran the "Network Wizard," and was playing music in less than 5 minutes. Great. Then, the network timed out and I had to re-enter all my network information again. Not so great. I tried the manual settings, which require entering the IP, Gateway, DNS, Encryption Type, Encryption Key, and DHCP selection i.e. not for the timid. It took a few tries to figure out what type of network FIOS was running, but hey - it's working again. Then it stopped and I saw the error, "Network Not Ready."
So tired of this. I did something drastic. I started to think that FIOS had some type of bandwidth limitation on their wireless router, so I did something drastic. I turned off the WiFi and purchased another wireless router ZyXEL 3-in-1 Wireless N Pocket Travel Router, Access Point, and Ethernet Client (MWR102) , connected it to one of the wired jacks on the FIOS router, and created my own WiFi network. Again, not for the timid.
What I found is that radio has few hic-up's. You expect it to stall once in a while with network traffic, but it was far less with this new router. Other devices transferred data more easily as well. I let the radio play until the message, "User Inactivity" came up and it stopped playing. Acid test: I just pressed Preset 1 to start the radio playing again.
For the very first time, the radio snapped to life and started playing again, just like you would expect it to do. I did NOT have to re-enter all my network information again. ah-hah! It would appear that the weak link in the chain is the router provided by Verizon FIOS, not the tabletop radio.