If you’re ever in the market for an FM transmitter, Merconnet is definitely the place to shop for one. We’ve reviewed quite a few of their products over the years and I have another one for you today that has some extra goodies built into it…
It’s the Bluetooth FM Transmitter. What’s the Bluetooth part all about? In addition to be a regular FM transmitter that can transmit tunes through your car’s stereo, it can also pair with your Bluetooth enabled mobile phone and serve as a handsfree speaker / microphone.
Bluetooth FM transmitter
Auxiliary input cable
The transmitter has a small Blue backlit LCD on the front along with 6 buttons. The LCD shows some status information while it’s in FM transmit mode and the incoming phone number when it’s detected an incoming call. The screen and letters are quite small though, so depending on the location of the power socket in your vehicle, you’ll probably not be able to read it. The display does not show the name of the currently playing song as I thought it might…
The buttons allow you to set the the FM transmit frequency (87.5-108MHz), move backwards and forwards through music tracks, play and pause music playback and toggle audio control back and forth from your paired mobile phone to the transmitter.
The FM transmitter is powered by plugging it into a 12V cigarette lighter socket in your car. It instantly powers up and remembers the frequency that was last programmed into it.
On the Right side of the transmitter is an auxiliary input jack so that you can use it to play tunes through any audio device that has a 3.5mm headset jack.
Even more convenient is the fact that this transmitter has both an SD and a USB slot built into it. You can load up an SD card or USB flash drive with .MP3 or .WMA files and play the tunes through the transmitter. The audio quality is surprisingly good. This actually might be the best sounding FM transmitter that I’ve reviewed so far. What I really like is the fact that it boots up so quickly. As soon as I start my car and flip on the radio, tunes are already playing. This transmitter will remember the last track that was playing and will restart that track with the next power up. The only annoyance is the fact that you can’t seem to use both the USB and SD slots at the same time. By that, I mean that you can not switch between them and you can not play all the songs from the the SD card and have it then go to the USB flash drive. The USB flash drive seems to take precedence over the SD slot.
A 20 button IR remote is included with the transmitter. Does anyone out there ever use these little remotes in their car? I don’t…
Pairing this device with your Bluetooth enabled phone is no different than pairing it with a headset. It’s easy and quick. After pairing, it will intercept calls that come in from your mobile phone and route the audio through your car’s stereo. When a call comes in, the currently playing track will stop and a little tune will play to let you know that you are receiving a call. You can then press the answer button on your phone or the bottom Left button on the front of the transmitter to answer the call. Once the call is complete, the track that was playing, will restart from the beginning.
Ok, time for some sound tests! Below are two audio clips of the speakerphone feature in action. This will give you an idea of what it sounds like to receive a call from someone using this device. I used the free voicemail / fax service from K7.net for these tests. I signed up for a free account, got a phone number and called it using a Palm Centro while using the Bluetooth FM Transmitter. The resulting voicemails are then emailed to you. Pretty nifty! At test time, the phone had full signal strength. Click to listen.
I was pretty disappointed with the call audio quality for both sides of the conversation. I had to crank up the volume on my car stereo sometimes to hear the person on the other end of the phone. People that I called would complain that my voice was choppy and hard to understand. I will say that some people might have better results with the speakerphone depending on the location of the power port that the transmitter is plugged into. In my car, the power port is on the lower Right edge of the center console, making the speaker approximately 29 inches from my face.
As an FM transmitter with a built in SD and USB slot for music, this product is easy to use and sounds great. As a Bluetooth speaker / mic for your mobile phone, it didn’t impress me…