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Sirius Rolls Out Handheld Radio

The move sets the stage for a holiday-season showdown with rival XM.

Sirius Satellite Radio

(SIRI) - Get Sirius XM Holdings, Inc. Report

unveiled a long-awaited handheld radio in time for a holiday sales showdown with rival models from

XM Satellite Radio



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The new radio, called the S50, is about the size of a cell phone and can play up to 50 hours of recorded Sirius satellite radio feeds as well as live FM broadcasts. The device costs $360 and is aimed to compete with XM's Roady and MyFi portable radios.

Investors and analysts expect a

second-half surge in subscriber growth for the pay radio sector as automakers install more satellite radios and the two companies introduce new models to hit the shelves in time for the holiday season.

Earlier this month, Sirius boosted its 2005 subscriber target to 3 million, up from its prior forecast of 2.7 million. The New York broadcaster ended the second quarter with 1.81 million users. Meanwhile, rival XM raised its year-end forecast to 6 million users from the previous 5.5 million. The Washington, D.C., radio shop had 4.4 million users at the end of the second quarter.

Both companies charge $13 a month for the premium radio service, and despite rapid revenue growth each outfit has racked up massive losses. But investors have focused mostly on the sector's growth potential as satellite radio begins to reach the mass market.

Shares of Sirius jumped 14 cents, or 2%, to $6.65, while XM was up 13 cents to $33.78 in early trading Thursday.