The Belkin TuneCast Auto with ClearScan for iPhone 3G is available and can be purchased in iMore Store for $79.95. If you are looking for a charger/ FM transmitter in one for your iPhone, this might be for you. Let’s see how it measures up after the break!
The Belkin TuneCast Auto is a charger/FM transmitter that sends your iPhone's audio directly to your FM radio. The device is made of plastic and has been quite resilient. The cord length is just about perfect. I currently plug it in under my car's arm rest and it is just long enough. The transmitter is compact and easy to use.
I admit it, or perhaps I shouldn't, but I am one of those people that sometimes drives with my headphones in. I liken this to the same as someone playing their boom-box loudly in their car. So, being a good citizen, I wanted do the right thing and find a way to listen to music without headphones; in comes the Belkin TuneCast Auto!
I have a 45-minute commute each way to work, so I use this thing A LOT and for extended periods of time, driving through several parts of town before arriving at my place of employment. Why is this important? Well, the way this device works is, it sends the the iPhone's audio to a radio channel that is not currently being broadcast on. So, in theory, you find an "empty" channel and you are in business. Well, like I said, in theory anyway. The reality is where I live, there are very, very, very few stations (like 3) that don't broadcast anything. What is the magic station for me? 96.1, for about 75 percent of my commute. Since I am driving from suburbia to downtown, as I approach the city, there is more and more static encroaching on the crystal-clear audio I enjoyed from my home; frustrating indeed.
So how do you resolve this? Well the Belkin TuneCast Auto gives you a few tools at your disposal. First up is the scanner. You press the button and if finds a station, based on your location, that has the least amount of static or stations to transmit to the radio. You can adjust by numerical increment if you like too. For example, the device select 105.4, but you find that 105.5 provides a slightly clearer listening experience, you can adjust at that level.
Next, you can save up to two favorite channels. This is quite helpful in my instance. I choose one channel for most of my commute, then as I get closer to work, I switch to another. It would have been really handy to have more then two saved presets, but alas, what can you do.
Lastly, you have "Pro" settings that help improve the audio performance. There are Pro levels 1-3 that essentially increase the volume of the music if it is muffled over the air with the FM reception. The last level plays in mono, further decreasing static.
I really like the Belkin TuneCast Auto for iPhone 3G. The problems I have with it are really just inherent of the technology and its compatibility in my city; there just aren't any available stations that don't have anything being broadcast on them. This issue, however, is not Belkin's so I feel it is unfair to knock them any points for this. Instead, the disappointments I have with the device are listed below, that just prevent it form being a 5-star device.