iPhone FM transmitter- buying guide

Because the’re only so much crap I’m willing to listen to on the way to and back from work- yes, I am talking about the radio stations here- I decided to buy a new FM transmitter that I can plug into my iPhone 4. I had one by Monster already but it’s not compatible with my iPhone, and my car doesn’t have the auxiliary audio input either (but I still love my Tiida!) so a new FM transmitter’s the only way to go in my case (no, I am not going to buy a new car to go with my iPhone).

In the past week I’ve gone through a few of them, so I hope this post will be a useful guide to those wanting to buy one in the future.

First up, is the iCarPlay Portable by Monster (AED 240; released a couple of months ago). Naturally, I opted for this one because I really liked the older model from these guys, and also because there are no wires and nothing to plug in! The sound quality wasn’t as good as the old one, but the deal breaker was that I had to remove my bumper so it can plug in and work- if you have a case or bumper around your iPhone 4 (who doesn’t?) then it’s not going to fit properly, and I wasn’t not going to keep removing the bumper every time due to poor product design! 

Second in line was the iKit’s Autocon FM transmitter (AED 229; released in December 2010). This one wasn’t wireless, but it looked really cool- touchscreen controls, hands-free phone option and it plugs in from the headphone jack in the iPhone rather than the bottom which I found more convenient. Sadly, either the one I bought was defected or the quality of it is really bad; the DC connector didn’t work so I bought a Belkin USB charger and connected the transmitter through that. I ended up with a near-deafening screech when the frequencies on the transmitter and radio were the same. I looked this product up later, and apart from a couple of press releases I couldn’t find much else about it, including their website. I tried contacting them on Twitter and Facebook about this, but got no response. So yea, I don’t recommend this one.

Another one I considered was Belkin’s TuneBase FM (there’s TuneBase Direct for those with AUX input jacks)- they had a really nice one with a stand for the phone and all the other featured mentioned above, but unfortunately the place of the cigarette lighter in my car is just behind the handbreak so it won’t work in my car.

The last one was today’s buy from Griffin- the iTrip PLAY. Priced at AED 285, it’s the most expensive of the lot, but I am very happy with it so far. This one is wireless like Monster’s but it plugs in nicely with the bumper on; the sound quality is really good and it has an iPhone app, which can auto-scan and set channel presets (easier than dealing with the little device itself). It also has a mini-usb port at the bottom which will come in handy for charging my iPhone (good thing I bought that Belkin USB charger after all!). You can get both the iTrip and the Belkin USB charger from iStyle stores in the UAE.

The best thing of all is that I don’t have to listen to all 3 songs on the radio anymore! So worth the trouble.


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