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Anydrive 3 Wireless Transmitter and Card Reader with LCD

By: Ryan Preston
on December 12, 2006 1:53 pm

A couple of years ago, Julie did a review on the Anydrive Car MP3 and FM Modulator from Merconnet. In case you don’t remember, or never read the review, the device allowed you to plug in your USB flash memory storage apparatus and wirelessly broadcast the output to a FM radio.

Well, all good gadgets must evolve to keep up with the ever changing mind of consumers and the Anydrive 3, like its predecessor, is a relatively inexpensive solution that extends your digital listening options to play through a FM radio, but actually the device does a little more.

Hardware Specs

LCD display
7-color backlight
Capacity to hold 7 FM frequencies
Optional (body) color
Equalizer mode: jazz, rock, bass, normal and classic
Play options mode: repeat 1, repeat all, random, normal
Operating Distance (horizontal distance of transmitter): Up to 30 meters (98 feet)
Channel Isolation Ratio: greater or equal to 72db
Audio frequency response: 20-1500Hz
Working Current: 100MA
Preset frequency station: FM 87.7-88.9 MHZ
USB connection capability
SD/MMC card reader capability
3.5mm headphone jack

Package Contents

MP3/FM Modulator device (white in color)
12 volt car adapter
USB cable with retractable cord manager
3.5mm (dual-end) audio connection

The device is nicely sized, measuring 2-3/4″ (length) x 1-3/4″ (height) x 1″ (deep). It fits nicely in the palm of your hand. When looking at the player from the front, the body appears to have horns or ears on the sides, at the top. The mold is nice in that you can grip the device and your fingers actually wrap-around and fit inside the horns. The right horn/ear has a hole for a strap. Sorry, strap not included.

The body of the Anydrive 3 is constructed of plastic and feels a little cheap. Not sure how much of a beating the device could withstand, so handle with care.

The five buttons that control the player are located on the top. The buttons are appropriately sized, slightly raised and nicely spaced, making access relatively simple. After using the device a few times, I was able to utilize the controls without looking, which is nice, especially if you are driving. Safety first.

From the top-view perspective, the buttons in order (left to right) with functions:
‘A’ button: Switch play modes, circle (repeat 1, repeat all, random, normal) modes, equalizer (jazz, rock, bass, normal, classic) modes & FM frequency modes.
Next button: Access the next song; pressing for more than 3 seconds turns the volume up on the player.

Play/Stop button: Play & stop the music; pressing for more than 2 seconds will turn the device on or off.

Previous button: Access the previous song; pressing for more than 3 seconds turns the volume down on the player.

‘B’ button: Switch from accessing music on the SD/MMC card to music on the USB device and vice-versa.

Making my way around the outside of the device, the SD/MMC card slot is on the left-side, while the full-sized USB connection, headphone jack and DC power port are located on the bottom. The right-side of the device has a slide-mechanism to hold or lock the controls.

The USB connector is where you can plug in things like thumb drives and other such USB storage gadgets used to store your library of music. If you don’t have a portable USB storage device, you can find many different styles and storage capacities at reasonable prices. Pick one up for yourself.

I did notice a potential flaw in the design of the player, specifically with the plug-in connections on the bottom. The USB connector and headphone jack are separated only by a 1/4″, which could make it difficult to make a USB connection and utilize the headphone jack, especially if you have a USB device with a wide body. I am not sure how many portable USB storage devices would cause a problem, but I can see the potential and I think the designers could have better exploited the real estate on the body’s bottom by spacing the connectors evenly.

In Julie’s review of a prior model, she noted a design issue when trying to plug-in a USB card reader in the USB connector. The Anydrive 3 eliminates that flaw by incorporating a SD/MMC card reader in the body. Always nice to see manufacturers make a change to improve a product’s design.

The Anydrive’s built-in SD/MMC card reader allows you to listen to music files from a memory card via headphones or through the FM radio and just like a standard card reader it also permits the transfer of files to the card via the USB connection. So if you have some music on your PC, you can insert a SD/MMC card into the Anydrive, connect it to the computer via the USB connector and just drag and drop files. Very simple. During the transfer of files, the backlights of the LCD monitor flickers, creating a little light-show to indicate something is happening.

When you turn the MP3 player on, the LCD screen displays the radio frequency, volume level indicator, equalizer setting, play mode setting and active disk. The disk designator is Disk 1 for the SD/MMC memory card, while Disk 2 is the USB connector.

Here you can see all the options displayed through the LCD when you initially turn the device on.

The Anydrive 3 gives you the ability to have a memory card and a portable USB storage device simultaneously plugged-in and you can easily switch between the two storage tools by simply pressing the ‘B’ button. So you could have your 80’s hair-band rock files on your memory card and your country music on your thumb drive and easily switch between the two with a touch of a button.

I found the Anydrive 3’s performance to be good, depending on the environment. In my Toyota Camry, the sound quality was poor with a lot of static, regardless of the station, while I found the reception quality to be considerably better in my Toyota Corolla. Even with the device resting on the backseat of my Corolla, I only noticed some slight background noise, which I found acceptable. Keep in mind, this is still FM radio.

To be honest, my other FM transmitter does not work well in my Toyota Camry either. Not sure why but the Camry seems to provide some resistance to the transmitters that results in noticeable static. I talked to some people who use such devices and they too confirmed that the vehicle plays a huge role in the sound quality. So keep this in mind, if you purchase the Anydrive 3 and are disappointed in the sound quality it might not be the player but the environment you are trying to use it in.


While testing the Anydrive 3 in my vehicles, I again noticed the cool options of the LCD backlight. The device has 7 different colors that you can select or rotate through to change it up a bit. All the colors look really cool in a car, especially at night. I was surprised by the brightness of the LCD backlight. It really packs a punch.

Of course, some will find the multiple backlight options annoying and unnecessary, but I thought they looked cool. Probably could get annoying after some time.

I also tested the MP3 player out using an old FM clock radio I had in the house. It worked great. The reception was impressive and it brought my old clock radio up a few decades in technology by allowing it to play MP3 files. Making the old, new again by mixing technology, extending the life of the old, always cool.

The built-in headphones give the Anydrive 3 added mobility. Just put in a memory card full of your favorite music and you can take your music with you. I played the device approximately 7-hours off the 2 AAA batteries that power it when not plugged-in and the batteries were still going strong.

Another cool way to utilize the device is by plugging in a portable DVD player into the Anydrive 3 and playing the sound of the DVD through the vehicles speaker system. That way everyone can hear the movie without relying on the built-in speaker system of the DVD player.

Using the Anydrive 3 with a portable DVD player brings to light a good point. Throughout this review, I have been discussing the use of the device with MP3 files, but you could use the Anydrive 3 with a portable CD player, DVD player or any other device that has sound and an audio connector to broadcast through a FM radio.

Overall, the Anydrive 3 is a nice tool with many uses. The ability to play your MP3 files through any FM radio is great, plus the added mobility through headphones and don’t forget the ability to use the Anydrive 3 as a SD/MMC card reader. Reception performance is a potential drawback but I think that is due more on the FM radio then the Anydrive 3’s FM transmitter.

The versatility of the Anydrive 3 makes it a device that I would recommend. So pick one up and extend your listening options so that you are never without your music.

 

Product Information

Price:69.99
Manufacturer:Merconnet
Retailer:Merconnet
Pros:
  • Built-in SD/MMC card reader
  • Ability to switch between connected SD/MMC card and portable USB storage device
  • Versatility to listen to music through a FM radio or headphones
Cons:
  • Cheap-feeling plastic body
  • FM transmitter may not work great in your particular vehicle

Comments

  1. 1
    Julie says:

    Post your comments on the anydrive_3 review.

    http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/review/anydrive_3

    Just click the POST REPLY button on this page.

  2. 2
    tOM Trottier says:

    Only 20-1500 hz frequency response? I think nothing’s missing. :)

  3. 3
    bodiddly says:

    I recently bought one of these things. It is not as great as all of the reviews lead you to believe. It claims that it runs for 7 hours or so on 2 rechargable AAA batteries. Mine doesn’t run on rechargables at all, as rechargable batteries are only 1.2 volts rather than 1.5. Even with standard disposable batteries I only got 3 hours or so of playtime. One thing that the reviewers neglect to tell you as well is that you can not read from the USB port in battery mode, only the SD card. At least this is the case with mine. It also only reads a very select set of mp3 formats. Many of my mp3 files will not play and I can’t figure out why. There are no stated restrictions or limitations but it definitely does not play all mp3 files. Additionally, I would not recommend buying one of these because Merconnet it totally unresponsive to customer complaints. I tried to call to ask whether my Anydrive is defective or are the problems I’m having due to something else. They don’t answer the phone. Neither are they responsive to emails. I tried to post these comments on their website and they would not post them. I guess they only post the positive comments. It works great plugged into the 12 volt adapter in the car as long as your mp3s are exactly what they want.

    DON’T BUY AN ANYDRIVE 3. SAVE YOUR MONEY FOR AN IPOD.

  4. 4
    OnlineShopping says:

    Bodiddly you are absolutly right

    It’s not just yours that won’t read from the USB port in battery mode (and only the SD card — though this problem is specific to the Anyrive). But I’m having the same other problems as you as well. I had the same problems with the batteries and the playtime. I’m having the same problem with some mp3s too and I suspect it’s either because your mp3s are “low loss”, or compressed at a higer level so older mp3 software can’t play them, or that for some reason if the bitrate itself is too low or high and not one of the standard presets that it might be causing problems. Either way, it’s a shame that they aren’t answering their phones or returning their emails. I don’t know if it would be worth it, but there is always the option of reporting them to the Better Business Bureau. But anyway, to repeat Bodiddly’s sentiments, save your money on the Anydrive and just buy an Ipod instead. Less hassle and a better overall product.

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