Belkin Australia TuneCast Auto w/ClearScan
- ClearScan technology, all iPods with dock connector supported, PRO sound setting
- Can't run on batteries, only supports iPod units
We prefer the design of Belkin's TuneBase model, but the TuneCast Auto is still a worthy option boasting reasonable sound quality and the convenience of ClearScan technology.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Boasting the ability to work with both the iPod and the yet to be released in Australia iPhone, Belkin's latest FM transmitter continues the use of ClearScan technology which automatically finds the clearest FM station.
Although FM transmitters don't offer the best sound quality, they are increasingly popular due to their relatively inexpensive asking price and the fact that they don't need to be installed into your vehicle.
The TuneCast Auto allows you to power, charge and listen to your iPod all through a single unit. Although we prefer the holder design of the TuneBase FM w/ClearScan, the TuneCast Auto provides more flexibility, as it can be used with any iPod with the standard dock connector. The simple design sees one end plug into your cigarette lighter socket and the other end to your iPod or iPhone. The downside to the design is that the TuneCast uses your car power to operate and can't run on batteries. If you don't have a working cigarette lighter socket, you're out of luck.
In the middle of the cable is a small, backlit LCD display along with the controls. Operation is simple and straightforward – plug the unit in to power it on, press the ClearScan button to display the best frequency and then match the frequency displayed to your car stereo. ClearScan is particularly convenient on long trips – if the frequency starts to drop out as you are driving you can simply press the button to search for a clearer frequency.
If ClearScan doesn't identify a frequency, the FM band may be too crowded. This could be an issue, though it depends on what area you are driving in. Alternatively, you can choose to manually select a frequency if you wish. Just find a clear frequency on your car stereo, and match it on the TuneCast Auto using the + and - buttons.
The TuneCast Auto features two presets (m1 and m2), as well as a PRO setting. PRO increases the average volume and transmits in mono instead of stereo. If you are struggling to receive a clear signal, this may help, though it's recommended for podcasts and audio books rather than music. There are three PRO settings which you can scroll through, but we found the normal sound setting worked fine during our tests. Like all of these units, sound quality isn't fantastic, but it's certainly good enough for the asking price.
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