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Belkin TuneBase FM with HandsFree Review

Posted in Review by Shane McGlaun on August 6th, 2009

belkintunebasehf-sbToday I am going to look at a cool new FM transmitter for the iPhone and other iPods from Belkin called the TuneBase FM with Hands-Free. The device is actually several devices rolled into one so if you need a holder for your phone or iPod, a charger for dockable iPods, a hands free kit, and an FM transmitter this is the device for you. Read on for all the details.

Features & Specifications

The TuneBase FM with Hands-Free plugs into the DC outlet of your vehicle and has a digital LCD on the front to show what frequency it is broadcasting on. Belkin uses its ClearScan technology that searches the available frequencies in your area from 88.1MHz to 107.9MHz and picks the one that will give you the best reception. The device also has a push button to answer calls on your phone and hands free functionality.

In Use

In my car, I always have a problem finding a place to set my phone. I also find that I need a DC charger on occasion and a hands free kit as well. Considering that the TuneBase FM with Hands-Free does all this and more I was excited to try it out. The device plugged into the DC outlet on my car without issues.

However, Belkin includes a rubber flange for larger DC outlets that don’t offer enough friction for the articulating arm of the TuneBase to hold the iPod or iPhone without slipping around. Another cool feature is that once you get the TuneBase FM with Hands-Free situated where you want it and twist the articulating arm to hold your device in portrait or landscape mode, the LCD can rotate for easy viewing as well.

In my area, the FM transmitter quickly found a station to use that offered clear playback while in my driveway. When I started driving the station turned out to have interference closer to town. A press of the ClearScan button found me a new station and re-tuning the radio to match gave me clear playback again.

The hands-free functionality of the TuneBase is cool, it takes the audio on your call and routes it over your car stereo speakers. I could clearly hear people I called while driving with the top of my convertible up. However, the TuneBase uses the mic of the iPhone and people couldn’t really hear me because of all the road noise that goes along with a convertible with or without the top up. In my wife’s SUV I could hear and be heard at any speed.

If you are a fan of GPS applications on the iPhone, the fact that the TuneBase FM with Hands-Free can rotate to landscape mode and still charge your phone is welcome. Sound quality from the FM transmitter is decent, but not as crisp as normal FM Broadcasts and the same tracks burned to a CD had much more fidelity than the tracks played from my iPhone over the TuneBase FM with Hands-Free. The music sounded good, it was just much quieter and not as crisp sounding as other formats of the same track. The TuneBase FM with Hands-Free isn’t shipping just yet, but when it does you can get one for $89.99, which considering all the functions the device can perform is a good price.

Pros

  • Multiple functions
  • Articulating arm
  • Works with most iPods and the iPhone

Cons

  • Tracks lose fidelity when played over FM transmitter to car stereo

Verdict

The TuneBase FM with Hands-Free is a very nice product that may bother an audiophile because of the lost of fidelity on tracks. However, the average user will find the multi use device to be well worth the money Belkin commands.

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