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I used to have a car iPod device before the TuneBase (Axia x) but after a year it broke, much too flimsy, so I was looking for a sturdier device when I came across the Belkin Tunebase. As I have other Belkin products, which I may review later, I knew the brand and was fairly confident it would be okay.
I bought the TuneBase from Amazon, for £39, which is a good £20 cheaper than an equivalent bought at an Apple store. Though looking on Amazon today I noticed that they are as low as £25 (used).
What is it?
Essentially it is a device that plugs into the power supply in your car cabin (usually cigarette lighter) that allows you to play your iPod through your car stereo by tuning in to an FM frequency that is either not being used or has a low or weak station on it. So put simply, it uses a weak or 'no channel' to 'tune' your iPod in so that the sound comes out of you car speakers, if you have great speakers, you get great sound, simple as that, naff speakers, naff sound.
Which iPod will it work with?
Any, the device comes with a eight adapters which allow any iPod, from nano to iPod video, to fit snugly in the holder.
Easy as anything, you simply plug in the TuneBase to your cigarette lighter, put your iPod in the cradle and tune both the radio and the device to the same frequency, anywhere between 88.1MHz-107.9MHz, handily, the radio frequency displays not only on your car stereo (as you would expect) but very clearly, and large numbers on your ipod.
Then you simply (if you want to, I would) press any of the numbered keys, there are four, for two seconds to store this frequency to the memory. I would always set up a couple of 'memory' stations as if you are travelling a long distance and visiting different towns or cities, there may be a local radio station using the frequency that you have preset and then you may (but not always) get some interference.
The instruction booklet is in several languages and is simplicity itself, though the print is a little small. There is also a useful 'troubleshooting' section in the instruction manual which gives some really useful tips, such as; that Nano's play at a slightly lower volume so it is wise to set the Belkin volume control higher.
Chunky, black, smooth, easy to see buttons, four preset/memory buttons, and up down buttons that can be used for tuning and/or volume.
I had an 'Axia X' device before which, whilst, like this is reliant on your own speakers, did not seem to 'hold' a signal as well. This is so much better, very little interference, and that is only when travelling near a pirate station that is tuned to your frequency, no problem, press another of your presets, and gone. The sound is as crisp and clear as your speakers, after all that is what the device uses. You can set the TuneBase to mono or stereo, stereo is the default.
The whole device is really strong and robust which is good as one will probably take it out the car regularly, though I leave mine in (not the iPod though). It is also extremely flexible, set on a bendy, thick wire based support so it is easy to manipulate into the position that is best for you in your car without it getting in the way.
I cannot believe that people change perfectly good stereo's and pay hundreds for a new one just so they can play their iPod in car, £30 or thereabouts allows this so easily.
The TuneBase comes with a three year guarantee which for something that is so cheap is pretty cool. There is also a technical support number supplied with the instruction booklet, though I doubt anyone will need it. There is very little that can go wrong with this device, save the small integral fuse burning out, and there are clear instructions on how to change that too.
So, all in all, I would absolutely recommend this, easy set up, looks good, sturdy and fab'. Finally, no need for batteries like other in car devices on the market, and it charges your iPod whilst plugged in.
This is an updated version of an earlier review I posted on Ciao.