Despite the fact that the iPhone has been out for almost a year now, FM transmitters designed for the iPhone have been slow to arrive on the market, though there have been a few non-approved ones that unofficially work with the iPhone. Belkin’s new TuneBase FM is one of the first FM transmitters to be officially iPhone compatible, as well as compatible with other current gen iPods. The package comes with a big selection of adapters to fit different ipod models including the 4G and 5G iPod, the iPod classic, all three generation Nanos, and the iPod touch.
The device plugs in to your car’s charger and also conveniently works as a power source for your iPod / iPhone. Set-up was simple, we docked our iPhone on the TuneBase FM – the adapter for the iPhone was already set up out of the box, but it’s easy enough to detach it and put on one of the iPod adapters. We then plugged the TuneBase FM in to the car’s lighter. The TuneBase FM features ClearScan technology which promises to automatically find a clear FM station. The ClearScan technology worked really, really well. It managed to find several clear stations, which is no small feat when you are in New York City where the radio waves are flooded. The stations it discovered were not completely clear- if you turned off the TuneBase FM we could hear some broadcasts coming through, however with the TuneBase turned on, it worked to cancel out the broadcasts on that station so that the music on our iPhone could came through loud and clear. How does it do that? We don’t know but we were amazed, especially at how well it worked in Manhattan. Granted we did hear some static here and there, but by experimenting at repositioning the Tunebase a little bit at different angles, we were able to eliminate most of the static. Our experience with other FM transmitters in New York City has not been very great, most of them have a hard time struggling to find and work on a clear frequency because the airwaves are so crowded, however the TuneBase excels.
The front of the TuneBase also features a bright display for scanning through stations. Beneath the display is the ClearScan button for automatically scanning for free / clear stations. On the left of the device there are 1 and 2 buttons for setting presets to good frequencies you’ll want to reuse. The + and – buttons located on the right side let you manually search through different stations. On the right there is also the Pro button which turns on the PRO setting which can work to improve the audio performance of the TuneBase FM by adding dynamic compression to your iPod’s audio. There are three different Pro settings, as well as just a normal setting which works well for most types of audio. Pressing the Pro button allows you to cycle through the different pro settings. Pro 1 increases the average volume of the audio, Pro 2 increases the volume even more and tends to be suited for quieter music, and the final pro settings is optimized for audio files like podcasts and audiobooks and as a result it transmits in mono instead of stereo.
The TuneBase FM also has a flexible steel “neck” so that it can rotate your iPod for landscape viewing. This is of course great for the iPhone with it’s neat landscape view for album art and videos. Also, it could also be used let’s say as a stand to hold your iPhone for a passenger to watch a movie.
Another unique feature of the TuneBase FM is that it has a line-out feature which lets you connect it to car stereo inputs or cassette adapters. So in other words, if you’re having a hard time finding a clear FM station to use, you can connect the 3.5mm audio-out jack in the Tunebase FM to your car’s stereo or a cassette adapter. Off hand, we don’t know of any other FM transmitter that has an audio-out jack, and really they all should. Unfortunately an audio-out cable isn’t included but those are cheap enough to come by.
Overall, we are really pleased with the TuneBase FM. We dare say that it’s the best FM Transmitter we’ve tried yet in terms of sound quality and success with finding clear stations and playing tunes through them. The device is also easy to use and we appreciate the thoughtful design which sports a flexible neck for landscape viewing. Finally, the fact that it also sports car stereo inputs is icing on the cake and makes it the FM transmitter to beat. The TuneBase FM retails for $89.99
ClearScan technology does a great job of finding clear stations, works great even in cities, flexible steel neck is convenient for landscape viewing, and car stereo inputs are a great bonus
Wow. We have nothing bad to say.