Connecting via an FM Transmitter
The last type of iPod in-car connection we discuss is the most popular, but it's also the most problematic.
The technology is simple—a small FM transmitter connects to your iPod and transmits the iPod audio over an unused FM frequency to your car's FM radio. Although this type of system is simple to implement and use, the resulting sound quality often leaves a lot to be desired; the sound is noticeably lower fidelity than you get with any other connection method.
In addition, you often run into the issue of finding a free FM frequency, especially in large cities. And if you're on a long road trip, you must change frequencies as you drive from town to town, depending on which frequencies local FM stations are using. Even if you find an unused frequency, you might not also get good reception between your iPod and your FM radio. Like I said, this type of connection is problematic.
However, FM transmission is also very popular; unlike other connection methods, you can use FM transmission in virtually any vehicle that has an FM radio. It's also a portable solution, which is nice if you're using a rental car or move your iPod between multiple family vehicles. And, of course, it's a clean connection; there are no cables involved.
The typical FM transmitter attaches to the dock connector or earphone jack on your iPod and features some way to change and display FM frequencies. For example, the DLO TransDock, shown in Figure 14.7, connects to your iPod's dock connector, and then lets you scroll through the available FM frequencies. Set the frequency and then dial your car radio to the same frequency to hear what your iPod is playing. The TransDock is nice in that it also connects to your car's cigarette lighter, to power both the TransDock and your iPod; it also transmits video signals to an in-car video system, if you have a video iPod. You can purchase it for $99.99 from www.dlo.com.
Figure 14.7 The DLO TransDock FM transmitter for iPod audio and video.
Other popular FM transmitters include the following:
- Arkon SF250 SoundFeeder FM Transmitter ($19.95, www.arkon.com)
- Belkin TuneBase FM ($79.99, www.belkin.com)
- Belkin TuneCast ($29.99, www.belkin.com)
- Belkin TuneCast II ($39.99, www.belkin.com)
- Belkin TuneCast 3 ($49.99, www.belkin.com)
- Belkin TuneCast Auto ($59.99, www.belkin.com)
- Belkin TuneFM ($49.99, www.belkin.com)
- DLO TransDock Micro ($69.99, www.dlo.com)
- DLO TransPod ($99.99, www.dlo.com)
- Griffin iTrip ($49.99, www.griffintechnology.com)
- Griffin iTrip Auto ($69.99, www.griffintechnology.com)
- Griffin RoadTrip ($89.99, www.griffintechnology.com)
- iRock 410FM ($19.99, www.myirock.com)
- iRock 440FM ($24.99, www.myirock.com)
- Macally FMCup ($59.99, www.macally.com)
- Macally FMTF ($49.99, www.macally.com)
- Macally IceFM ($29.99, www.macally.com)
- Maxell P-4A Digital FM Transmitter ($39.99, www.maxell-usa.com)
- Monster iCarPlay Wireless 200 ($99.95, www.monstercable.com)
- Monster iCarPlay Wireless Plus ($79.95, www.monstercable.com)
As you can see from the wide variety of available models, this is a popular way to connect your iPod in the car.