Want to listen to music from your iPod through your FM car radio or hi-fi? Then you need a little device that transmits your tracks onto an FM frequency. While Griffin‘s iTrip FM transmitter has been available for quite some time, it’s a pain in the backside to set-up and use (which perhaps explains why it’s still in the back of our desk drawer). Thankfully this gizmo from Xtreme Mac is much, much better.
Unlike the cumbersome iTrip, the Xtreme Airplay is a joy to use. Compatible with third generation and fourth generation iPods (including the Photo iPod), it plugs directly into the headphone socket. A blue LED transmitter displays the frequency and up and down arrow keys are provided for toggling between 88.1 and 107.9MHz.
We tested the AirPlay on a car journey from London to Newcastle and back and found quality was generally acceptable for short distances. However, the problem that plagues these types of devices is that they are inevitably prone to interference from FM radio stations. The trick is obviously to find a really remote frequency but this is nigh on impossible in major cities and built up areas. (It’s also worth noting that these devices are, strictly speaking, illegal as they are categorised as pirate radio transmitters under UK law).
Do you need it?
There’s no doubt the AirPlay is considerably better than the iTrip: an absolute cinch to set up and use. But the proliferation of radio stations makes it difficult to get decent sound quality on the road without having to re-tune the device every half hour or so. But for those who live out in the sticks where interference isn’t such a problem or those who want to use it indoors we would recommend it.