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I have a daily commute of an hour each way and I am forever making CDs because I get bored of them so quickly and I can't stand adverts on the radio. When I was browsing on Amazon and I saw this product I got really excited as it basically plays your music over the car radio meaning I wouldn't have to keep making CDs but I could still listen to my music!
I purchased this from Amazon marketplace for around £8, including delivery which I thought was quite a good price, considering a pack of blank CDs was costing me around £3.50 and I would use them all pretty quickly.
When the product arrived, it was in a plastic packet with a cardboard slip at the back with details about the product on it, such as instructions for use. The packaging was fairly basic but seeing as the product got here in one piece, only cost me £8 and I was only going to throw it away after I got the transmitter out I wasn't bothered.
The transmitter itself is a small cyclinder with a screen on the front, two buttons for changing the frequency and a 3.5mm jack (this is a standard size jack which goes in the headphone slot size of most devices). The product is made of plastic but seems quite robust, the buttons are a little bit 'clicky' but are responsive enough for their job of changing the frequency. The screen is very small, but seeing as all it displays is the current frequency the device is transmitting on this is not a problem. Whilst this product might not be the most visually appealing or win any prizes for design, its purpose is to play music over the radio and I am only going to keep it in my car so it's not important to me, however if you are someone who is bothered by the design I would bare in mind that this product is very basic in that department.
I was so excited to try out this device that I had an impromptu drive around as soon as it arrived to test it out! It is extremely easy to set up (believe me, this is coming from someone who finds things like this very difficult and gets into a complete muddle!), all you have to do is plug the jack part of the device in to your iPhone, iPod or MP3 player's headphone slot, find an empty radio frequency on your car radio and tune the transmitter to that frequency. This might sound a little complicated, but certainly around me there were loads of empty frequencies and I just picked one at random. Once you have selected the same empty frequency on your transmitter and your car radio press play on your device and listen to your music! I find that setting up a playlist on my iPod works best because I can select music before my journey that I want to listen to, rather than putting it on shuffle because I never know what will come on! This especially good advice if you have friends in the car, because no one wants the Cheeky Girls coming on or something equally embarrassing! Or maybe you do, I don't know...
The sound quality, whilst not pristine is perfectly listenable and if like me you are singing along at the top of your voice you definitely won't notice the minimal feedback noise! Even if you are somone who doesn't sing along any noise is so quiet it won't bother you. The only problem I have had with this transmitter is that when I go out of town I sometimes get bad feedback or little snippets of other radio stations. This is because different stations in different areas have different frequencies. This issue is easily resolved by fiddling with the frequency, moving it up or down a little usually works for me. However, if you are driving this is obviously not very practical so I would recommend you bringing someone else with you if you want to use this device on a long journey, or be prepared to stop regularly to change the frequency. I have never had this problem driving around town or to places that aren't too far away from home though.
A quick warning, whilst this is not an issue for me as I have a cigarette lighter, this device does need to be plugged in to a cigarette lighter, as this is how it gets it power to transmit. If your car doesn't have a cigarette lighter there isn't any point you buying this product as you won't be able to use it.
Overall, I love this product. It works extremely well at playing my music from my iPod on my car radio which is exactly what I brought it for and has saved me buying tons of CDs only to get bored of them after one drive. Although this device can be frustrating on a long drive if you have to keep changing the frequency, this is easy to do and if you are only driving short distances or around town then this device should work fine for you. I have used mine everyday for around 3 months now and it still works as new, which for only £8 paid I consider to be a good deal!
Exspect - FM Transmitter - iPod/MP3
I have had to do a lot of long distance jobs with my work recently and did not fancy listening to the radio or hanging cd's for hours on end and so I invested in a cheap FM Transmitter device for my iPhone. The one I went for was on Amazon for £15, the Exspect - FM Transmitter for iPods and MP3's.
The transmitter comes in a basic see through plastic pack so that you can see the device within. There is a cardboard sleeve that has the basic information about the product, a little picture and the Exspect logo on the side. You simply cut open the packet and can use the transmitter immediately.
The transmitter is very small and compact to look at, it is a cylindrical shape with approximate dimensions of 6 cm x 2 cm diameter. It is a matt black colour with a small LED screen which is where the FM station numbers are shown. This only has two buttons, a plus and a minus key to change the FM station and as such is very simple to use. The device is very light and doesn't feel amazingly strong or durable, but is fine for keeping in my glove box in the car.
This is compatible with all MP3 players; it has a 3.5 mm audio jack that plugs into your iPod/MP3 player. This also has a cigarette charger that powers the device. I always have this plugged in to charge it and I don't think it works without being plugged in, which is something to bear in mind if you don't have a charger in your car! You then put the lead into your car radio and viola.
To use this is very simple, you plug the device into your music player and charger socket, then on your car radio find any empty FM station with little to no background noise. Then on the transmitter find the same station as that shown on your car radio and press play. The music should then transmit through your car radio and play as a cd or radio station.
Obviously if you are driving across country the bug bear with these devices is that new FM stations pop up and you have to then find an empty one and reset the device, but I find it is not too huge of a problem overall. You can tell when this is happening as the music starts to be interrupted by the radio stations music/talking. More often than not you can simply change the frequency by a few decimals and you have your music playing again.
The quality of this transmitter in my opinion is very good; it is simple to use and good value. I paid £15 from Amazon and this is great value for the amount of times that I have used it!
These days most people own iPods and mp3 players and they are ideal for storing and playing a vast number of tracks. Indeed things have came a long way since I was the proud owner of a Sony Walkman back in the 80's and I love how these days I can carry my music around with me on my iPod Nano. When going away anywhere for a short break or on holiday I tend to take my iPod docking station along too and whilst totally happy with all of this, the only thing I have thought about that would make owning an iPod an even better experience for me, would be if I could also listen to it in my car.
Although many cars now come equipped with a suitable input to connect your iPod, my own car unfortunately does not have this facility. So when my daughter bought this in-car FM transmitter for us both to share in our cars, I was keen to try it out.
These devices transmit the output from an iPod stereo on a radio frequency picked up by your car radio, thus enabling you to listen to your iPod in your car with the sound coming from your car speakers.
I must admit I had heard about these transmitters, but hadn't really given them any thought, thinking that it would be really technical to use one.
My daughter however, promised me it would be easy and indeed the information on the front of the box that this particular Exspect transmitter came in, promised that this device is a simple plug and play design and perfect for all users regardless of their technical know-how.
Sounded good to me!
Our Exspect In-Car FM Transmitter was purchased from HMV a few months ago and cost £12.99 which both myself and my daughter felt was a reasonable price to pay and if it turned out to not be very good then it would not have been a lot of money wasted.
It is suitable fro iPod Nano, Classic and Touch as well as iPods and iPhones and works with any 3.5mm port. Small and compact, the transmitter comes with an in-car charger.
Connecting the device didn't pose any problems and it was as easy as the information on the box promised it would be.
All you have to do is plug the power lead into your car's cigarettes lighter, then connect both the FM transmitter and your iPod to the lead. The FM frequency will be displayed on the screen of the small transmitter when powered. You then select a channel on your car radio and it is best to use one which is empty and available. Once you have done this, you then tune the transmitter to match the selected frequency, this is done by pressing the + or - key on the transmitter until it matches. You should then be able to play the tracks stored on your iPod through your car's entertainment system.
The transmitter is powered by the car power adaptor, but it does not charge your iPod.
As well as written instructions there are also four diagrams illustrated which show you just how easy it all is to connect, so if you are someone who gets baffled by written instructions, it is really easy to connect the transmitter by following the clear diagrams included too.
I must admit using the transmitter was actually far easier than I had imagined. I thought there may be problems finding and matching a frequency, but there wasn't any and the device was connected within a couple of minutes and the tracks playing from my iPod were audible from my car speakers. I was impressed!
Having used this transmitter a number of times now I can say that it is a very handy device to have, but I have found that it works best when I am simply driving around my local area as once you are out of the frequency you have selected, then you begin to hear interference and radio stations coming through on your speakers and of course you cannot be fiddling around changing frequencies whilst driving.
A couple of months ago we went for a short break in the Lake District and I found that the transmitter was fine, even whilst driving 40 miles down the A1, but as soon as we turned off onto the A66 leading to the Lake District we began to experience static. I fiddled about changing the frequency as my partner was driving and managed to succesfully find another channel. However, this would only work for a couple of minutes it seemed before we were once again experiencing interference from radio stations. It got so bad I had to turn it off as the nearer we got to the Lake District the worse it became, until we couldn't find anyway of listening to the ipod via the transmitter any longer without constantly changing frequencies every couple of minutes and even then some interference was always audible. I simply didn't have the patience to keep constantly fiddling with it.
The performance therefore of these transmitters is highly dependant on where you are travelling and how cluttered the FM band is in that area, so you must bear in mind that an unoccupied and interference-free frequency at the beginning of a journey is unlikely to stay that way if you are travelling a good number of miles.
When the transmitter is performing well however, I find the quality and sound of the music to be just as good as listening to the car radio, cd player etc. For travelling in your local area then I do think these transmitters are a great purchase and also I have found it possible to travel over 40 miles before experiencing any interference, so they are a worthwhile purchase in my opinion. Also I travelled to another city once and although I had to change the frequency once, it was then fine until I reached my destination. It was only in amongst the mountain landscape of the Lake District that I have experienced any real problems so far.
The Expect In-Car Transmitter is still available from branches of HMV and also from their online store. Ours cost £12.99, but it is worth pointing out that this model is currently available from Amazon priced at just £8.79 with free delivery.