By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
FM transmitters for iPods and the iPhone proved to be popular introductions during International CES and Macworld, and TWICE collected some of the most recent announcements.
Belkin debuted two new products for the category: the TuneBase and the TuneCast Auto. Both can be used with iPhones and iPods, and both come with ClearScan technology. ClearScan reportedly seeks out the best FM frequency to play the music from an iPod or iPhone with one push of a button.
The devices share other similar features, such as an included line-out for use with car-stereo inputs or cassette adapter, and a pro setting that optimizes audio and boosts volume. The TuneBase FM features multiple cradles to fit any docking iPod, and a flexible neck for easy positioning. The TuneCast Auto has an attached power cord that powers and charges an iPod or iPhone in the car, and it's designed to let passengers control playlists.
The TuneBase FM will be available in April for a $99.99 suggested retail, while the TuneCast Auto will be available in February for a $79.99 suggested retail.
The iTrip AutoPilot with SmartScan from Griffin Technology allows drivers to play and control an iPod while charging its battery. The iTrip sends the music wirelessly to the car's FM radio so the user can listen through the car's stereo speakers. RDS technology shows song information on RDS-enabled car radio displays.
SmartScan is a trademarked feature that automatically finds the three best FM frequencies, "making it the easiest-to-use FM transmitter on the market," said Griffin. AutoPilot is a cigarette-lighter/12-volt power adapter that adds playback control buttons within reach for the driver; and it gives the user tactile feedback. Users are able to put an iPod in the glove box and still have complete control over playback.
The iTrip AutoPilot with SmartScan will be available in the second quarter for a $99.99 suggested retail.
Griffin also announced that it had redesigned the iTrip, its original FM transmitter. The updated version works with new and old iPod models, said the company, and can be used with cases. It also introduced an iTrip for iPod Nano for third-generation Nanos. The updated iTrip is currently available for $49.99, and the iTrip for iPod Nano will be available in February for the same price.
Maxell introduced the P-34 FM transmitter. It's engineered to fit securely in most car cup holders, and simultaneously charges an iPod or MP3 player while broadcasting music through the clearest channel on a car's FM radio, said the company.
The P-34 comes with a charge component through the universal iPod 30-pin dock, as well as a USB port for a USB charge cable (cable not included). Powered through the car cigarette lighter adapter, the P-34 FM transmitter offers a full FM radio spectrum of 88.1MHz to 107.9MHz. Listeners can lock-in up to 10 of their most preferred and clearest channels with a memory option.
It has a suggested retail of $59.99. Availability was not given at press time.
The Macally BTCup for the iPhone is a full-channel FM transmitter with a design that lets users place the device upright in a standard car cup holder, giving drivers full access to the touch screen. It syncs with the iPhone's integrated Bluetooth technology for hands-free usage while driving, and when a call comes in, auto-switching between music and phone modes allows users to answer the call hands-free, then returns to music play mode when the call is completed.
Features include easy-to-reach buttons, a power on/off/privacy switch, a button for Bluetooth/answer/hang-up, frequency up and down buttons, and a "quick channel switch" button. An earphone for enhanced call privacy is also included.
Available in February, the BTCup will retail for a suggested $99.
XtremeMac debuted its InCharge FM transmitter and car charger for the iPod. The InCharge FM is designed to charge an iPod while simultaneously transmitting audio from the iPod wirelessly to any FM radio. It uses Quintic PureFM technology and proprietary audio enhancements by XtremeMac, so it provides a consistently clean signal and excellent dynamic range for wireless transmission of near-CD-quality sound, said XtremeMac.
The InCharge FM is compatible with the standard 12-volt power or accessory outlets typically found in automobiles, and will charge any iPod with Apple's standard dock connector. Other features include an easy-to-read display, ergonomically designed tuning and station preset buttons, stereo/mono modes for optimal transmission, and a play/pause/next-track button to allow quick song selection without using the iPod.
At press time, the InCharge FM could be pre-ordered from XtremeMac's Web site and is scheduled to be available at retailers "in the coming weeks," according to the company. It carries a $69.95 suggested retail.
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