A long while ago, Benny wrote a review of the iTrip from Griffin Technology. This little device added an FM transmitter to your iPod, allowing you to play your music library through any FM radio close by. The ideal scenario for the iTrip was using it in your car, where you could have access to a massive library of music, even if you only had a bog standard car radio.
There were two problems with the iTrip, the first was that it had a detrimental effect on your iPodâ€™s battery life, since it didnâ€™t have its own power source, and the second was that it was illegal in Europe.
The FM Dock from PodGear addresses one of those problems at least. The docking cradle itself is well finished in tough white plastic, with an LCD display at the bottom. The cradle will accept both 3rd and 4th generation iPods as well as iPod minis. There are two protective pads supplied with the cradle to stop the back of your iPod being scratched â€“ one of the pads is thinner than the other for use with the thicker, higher capacity iPods.
The LCD display shows the current FM frequency that is being transmitted. This can be changed by using the controls on the right hand side of the cradle. The direct access to frequency changing, makes it easy to find a free area on the FM band and ensure clear and crisp playback.
Also in the box is a plug that fits into the cigarette lighter in your car and then attaches to the cradle. Again this is made from strong plastic and is hinged in a couple of places to allow you to adjust the position and angle of the cradle. If your cigarette lighter is in an awkward place, there is also an extension arm supplied to give added length and positional flexibility.
So, with your iPod nestling in the FM Dock, and the cradle plugged into your cigarette lighter, not only can you listen to all your music over your car stereo, but your iPod also continually charges while youâ€™re driving.
Now, Benny has never been particularly impressed with the sound quality produced by his iTrip, but I have to say that the quality from the FM Dock is pretty much up there with a strong signal from a radio station.
Of course the smart thing to do is construct several playlists so that you donâ€™t have to attempt to navigate your music library while youâ€™re driving â€“ in fact itâ€™s not the smart thing to do, itâ€™s the ONLY thing you should do, unless you want to cause an accident.
Unfortunately, the FM Dock still suffers from the second problem that plagued the iTrip - legality. It would appear that in Europe you need to have a license for any FM transmitter, even if it only has a range of a few feet â€“ yet another example of bureaucracy out-gunning common sense.
Of course with the legal issues I canâ€™t recommend the FM Dock to anyone residing in Europe, but if you live elsewhere (or just want to live dangerously), itâ€™s well worth a look.
The FM Dock takes the basic functionality of the iTrip and makes it easier to use, while throwing battery charging into the mix. The cradle is well built and itâ€™s easy to position your iPod pretty much anywhere â€“ a great product for anyone that really does want their iPod library accessible everywhere.
PodGear acknowledges that it is illegal to use the FM Dock anywhere in the European Union and accepts no responsibility for any users that do so.