Belkin TuneCast 3

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Belkin TuneCast 3
  • Belkin TuneCast 3
  • Belkin TuneCast 3
  • Belkin TuneCast 3

Pros

  • Good sound quality and reception, colour display, ease of use

Cons

  • No auto power on, only two presets

Bottom Line

It lacks some of the features of its predecessor, but the TuneCast 3 has improved on sound quality, signal strength and ease of use, making it one of the better FM transmitters we've reviewed.

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Belkin's TuneCast 3 is an FM audio transmitter designed for both in-car and home use. The TuneCast 3 is simple, easy to use and has above average sound quality for an FM transmitter.

The TuneCast 3 operates via a standard 3.5mm jack, so this means it works with any MP3 player on the market. Users simply plug the unit into the headphone jack of their MP3 player. The TuneCast runs on two AAA batteries that are included in the sales package. FM transmitters running on batteries are a double edged sword; on one hand the unit won't drain the charge from your MP3 player, but having to change batteries during a long trip, for example, is less than ideal.

The front of the TuneCast 3 has a small, colour, OLED screen, and this displays battery life, current FM frequency and also indicates whether you are transmitting in stereo or mono. The display is very easy to read in all lighting conditions, including under direct sunlight and in the dark. Transmitting in stereo gives users the highest quality listening experience, but depending on location, mono may provide better FM signal reception. A dedicated mono/stereo button sits on top of the TuneCast 3, next to the power button. Both of these buttons require users to hold them down for a couple of seconds. A progress bar appears on the screen to let you know what function you are changing, for example holding down the stereo/mono button displays: "Stereo-Mono". Sound quality was admirable for an FM transmitter, and we were impressed with the fact that the TuneCast 3 could be placed away from the car radio and still transmit and uninterrupted signal.

To use the TuneCast 3 in the car, users select an FM frequency on their car stereo that isn't already occupied, and then use the left and right buttons on the TuneCast to match up the frequency. To store a frequency, you simply hold down either the '1' or '2' button for three seconds. This is a little disappointing, as the previous TuneCast II had four presets available, and also had the ability to automatically power on when it detected an audio source. The TuneCast 3 is missing both of these features.

Belkin includes a cigarette lighter adapter in the sales package for powering the TuneCast 3 on the road, but it won't charge the batteries. There is also a mounting cradle that has been designed to stick to a car dashboard. Belkin quotes 20 hours of battery life using the Duracell AAA batteries in the sales package, but this figure will vary depending on the type of batteries used.

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