RoadTrip+, by Newer Technology
Posted: 6-Sep-2005

3 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Newer Technology Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Teawell Class: HARDWARE

Overview
Ever wanted to listen to your iPod while in your car? There are a variety of options available for doing just that. One of those options is the RoadTrip+ from NewerTech. The RoadTrip+, sold through OtherWorld Computing, is an FM transmitter to make your iPod play through your car stereo. This is a personal review of a RoadTrip+ unit that I purchased for my iPod 3G.

Requirements

  • iPod mini, 3rd gen, 4th gen, Photo

Price

$27.95


Setup
The RoadTrip+ is extremely simple to set up. Plug the transmitter end into your car's cigarette lighter or console jack (any port that hooks into the 12V electrical system). Plug the other end into the iPod's firewire connector. As you listen, the battery is charged. Tune your radio to 87.9 Mhz FM.


The RoadTrip+ cable attached to my iPod

In Use
The frequency is fixed at 87.9 MHz, so there is no need to shuffle through the frequency range to find a blank spot as you move about the country. I tested the RoadTrip+ on a long drive from Baltimore, Maryland, to Richmond, Virginia. Supposedly, there are only three stations within the United States that broadcast on the 87.9 frequency (one is in the Bay Area in California). During the trip, I found the overall sound quality quite remarkable, clear and crisp. Not once did I hear any interference from outside sources.

The quality of sound coming through my car stereo from my iPod is quite good. To my ears, it was as good as the CDs that I play in the car. Then again my hearing is not what it used to be (too much time spent around machinery without adequate ear protection), so an audiophile may have a different experience. Playing Dave Mason's version of "All Along the Watchtower", I could not tell any difference between listening to it with earbuds, transferred to CD, or through the Road Trip+. The rhythm section was pounding, the guitar was screaming, and the vocals were clear.

That being said, I am now on my fourth unit. The first one overheated after I left it in my glove compartment in 90 degree heat (probably 100+ in the glovebox). The replacement unit was not set on the correct frequency (it was somewhere between 87.9 and 87.7 Mhz), so that one went back as well. The third and fourth replacement units exhibited the same symptoms, a background hiss (or a bad signal-to-noise ratio). In between songs it is quite noticeable, as well as in the quiet segments of a song, but not all the time (it comes and goes). A fellow traveller in a local Apple users group has the RoadTrip+ and expressed great satisfaction with it. I am not sure if I have been unlucky, or if there is a problem with my setup, or if this intermittent background hiss is simply the "norm". I did notice that when I disconnect the iPod, the hiss goes away.

Support for the RoadTrip+ is very good, both in trying to help troubleshoot problems I had as well as sending out replacement units when a problem couldn't be resolved.

Summary
Newer Tech's RoadTrip+ is an inexpensive gadget that allows you to listen to your iPod while in your car, sharing your iTunes library with passengers. The RoadTrip+ connects your iPod to your car's 12-volt system, and transmits the audio through the inline transmitter using FM frequency 87.9. This device works with the iPod min, 3rd gen, 4th gen, and photo models. There is no need to for a 2nd audio cable, and the RoadTrip+ charges your iPod while on. I did experience some issues with my RoadTrip+, some of which have still not been resolved. Even with the intermittent background hiss, this unit has a lot going for it. The RoadTrip+ delivers good value for its price.


Pros

  • All inclusive design (single cable does it all)
  • Fixed frequency so you don't have to keep changing the output frequency

Cons

  • Intermittent background hiss
  • Cannot be used in an area that uses the 87.9 frequency


Overall Rating:

3 out of 5 Mice