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Electronics Review: Kensington Digital FM Transmitter/Auto Charger for iPod

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Kensington’s new FM Transmitter is the latest in a long line of FM transmitters; some for the iPod exclusively, other’s for MP3 players in general. At a street price of roughly $45.00, the Kensington FM Transmitter is pricey compared to its competition. Is the extra dough worth it? Let’s find out.

The Look

The FM Transmitter is very simply designed, to the benefit of the user. A single dock connector cord connects your iPod to the transmitter. Then the unit plugs into the cigarette lighter in your car. A digital display shows which station you are synching the transmitter to on your car radio. Three preset buttons allow you to save certain stations, which is quite helpful since your best sounding station in the burbs may be quite static filled in the city. An indiglo light gives the all white unit a great look. The transmitter is compatible with all dock connector iPods.

The Setup

Setup is less than 1 minute. Find a station on the dial that isn’t emitting a clear signal, set the transmitter to the same station, and you’re good to go.

The Sound

Simply put, the Kensington FM transmitter is the best of its kind that I have tried, and I’ve tried a bunch of them. Once the station on the transmitter matches the radio signal, all other sound is banished, and what is left is the sweet sound of silence, awaiting whatever tunes you wish to play on your iPod. The transmitter uses a patented Aerielle technology that aids in delivering a crisp clear sound, devoid of typical interference.

The sound is not perfect, but expecting that will frustrate ever audiophile out there using FM transmitters. By definition, the transmitter will not deliver perfect sound without being wired into the sound system of your car. But the Kensington transmitter comes as close as anyone else. Some mild hissing on “S” sounds is detectable, as well as difficulty in getting good reception in downtown locations. Some stations come in better than others. It’s a matter of trial and error.

The Verdict

At a street cost of roughly $45.00-$60.00 ($79.99 MSRP), the Kensington FM transmitter is anywhere from an absolute steal to completely reasonable, especially considering it charges your iPod while playing. My last FM transmitter connected to the iPod through the headphone jack, allowing me to charge with another device. However, the sound was severely deprecated when charging and listening. Feedback and squealing ruined the ability to listen and charge. The Kensington FM Transmitter solves the problem. The unit renders certain “charge only” devices obsolete.

More worship of all things iPod and other stuff at The BM Rant.

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About Matt Freelove