Maximo SAN-360 Car FM Transmitter and Charger for SanDisk Sansa review: Maximo SAN-360 Car FM Transmitter and Charger for SanDisk Sansa

  • 1
MSRP: $105.55
3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Maximo SAN-360 is the first FM transmitter designed for the Sansa e200/c200/c100 series; above-average transmission signal; simple backlit display and straightforward design; three presets; charges Sansa player.

The Bad The Maximo SAN-360's audio quality is acceptable but not impressive; no line-in jack for other audio devices; search feature doesn't work well.

The Bottom Line The well-designed Maximo SAN-360 will get the job done for Sansa owners, but it will not overly impress.

6.3 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 5.0
  • Performance 6.0

SanDisk's quick rise to No. 2 in U.S. MP3-player sales has spurred the creation of a fledgling accessories market, including the introduction of the first speaker system dedicated to Sansa e200 (and Sansa c200) owners. Now you can listen to your tunes in your car--without the need for a generic, or worse, a Made for iPod FM transmitter--using Maximo Products' $69.99 SAN-360 Car FM Transmitter and Charger.

This in-line-style FM beamer can tune into "all FM frequencies" (between 88.1 and 107.9 MHz), includes three presets buttons, and can actually search for open frequencies, though this last feature didn't seem to work well. The minimally attractive unit plugs right into a car lighter port and has a four-foot cable that terminates in a Sansa dock connector. The model works with all e200-series, c200-series, and c100-series players. If your unit doesn't work properly, make sure that it has the latest firmware (which occurs automatically with the Sansa Firmware Updater).

The blue backlit display is basic but easy to read. Adjust channels using the tiny but accessible up and down arrow buttons, and hold to scan. Hold down one of the preset buttons on any channel to make it a preset. Unfortunately, there is no line-in port for other audio devices.

Also, the unit will remember the last channel used and automatically powers on with the presence of an audio signal. You do need to pull it out of the lighter port when you leave your car (since it doesn't turn off automatically). Overall, the SAN-360 is nice and low profile and easy to use.

It also boasts "award-winning wireless audio performance," though we're not sure what kind of award it garnered. Signal strength is above average; we have heard better. In a city like San Francisco, you may get a tiny bit of static (the SAN-360's transmitter powered through our default channel of 88.1, but with a little static as we drove through the city.) Audio quality is a little better than AM--I've definitely heard better. Also, I noticed that I my car stereo's volume was cranked up higher than usual. When it's connected to the transmitter, you can still control the Sansa's volume, so make sure to first set it at about 70 percent, then adjust your stereo's volume. In the e200's case, I actually liked to control volume using its tactile controller because I could keep the device in hand (or lap) while driving and adjust volume in increments (call me a control freak).

The SAN-360 has a nice simple design and uninspiring but acceptable performance. For now, this moderately priced FM transmitter is the only Sansa-only choice for SanDisk owners (readers, let me know if I'm wrong).

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