In-Car Audio


iPodding on-the-cheap

Audio purists may blanch at the following, but if you want the convenience of instant iPod "integration" without the need for the modifications and expense of a factory-installed or sophisticated aftermarket unit, you can opt for one of the plug-in FM transmitter solutions which let you become your own personal "radio station", sending your tunes directly to your sound system via a neutral FM band.

The best of this genre usually combines an iPod caddy with an FM transmitter and plugs into your auxiliary power (cigarette lighter) socket, so it also charges your iPod while you drive (eg, the Griffin RoadTrip and the DLO Transpod).

While generally quite effective, totally transportable from car to car and relatively cheap (around $150-$180) the drawback of this system is that in heavily built-up areas it can sometimes be hard to find a clear "blank" spot on the FM band to tune into, and your sound quality may suffer.

Head of the class

iPods aside, the part of your sound system that you will deal with most is the head unit. This is your main interface to whatever you have hooked up to the system. It is from here that you switch between modes (radio, cassette, CD, minidisc, MP3 player etc), control volume, balance, fading and the general sound geometry of your system.

Head units these days come in an amazing variety of looks and configurations, often with dazzling animated front display units, some in full colour. Go to any car audio retailer or electronics store and you will usually find an extensive array of them to compare and choose from.

Head Unit

Some of them are real showstoppers, with an array of lights, buttons and display options that would stump a jet pilot. Others have a slightly more understated look. Most will have similar basic functionality but with head units you need to find the look that suits your car (and personality) as well as the features you need.

Be prepared to spend some time playing with the display units and comparing look, feel and functions with others. Most importantly, if you are mixing and matching the components of your whole system to get the exact sound capacity and features you need, you will have to make sure that the head unit and other components are all fully compatible and will work happily together once you have assembled the system in your car.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?