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Belkin TuneCast 3 FM Transmitter review: Belkin TuneCast 3 FM Transmitter

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MSRP: $64.99
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The Good Comes with mounting dock. Stereo/mono switch for better FM reception. Colour display.

The Bad Doesn't automatically power on. Only allows two channel presets.

The Bottom Line Belkin's update to its TuneCast transmitter offers better signal clarity and a device that's much easier to use, to boot. At the same time, it mysteriously drops some great features that its predecessor offered.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

9.0 Overall

Review Sections

Design
Belkin's TuneCast 3 is an FM audio transmitter designed primarily for in-car use. Where its predecessor had a small and distinctly iPod-coloured stubby body that was quickly prone to becoming grubby, the TuneCast 3 more resembles a tiny MP3 player in its own right. It feels and looks an awful lot like the Creative Zen V Plus, in fact, right down to the onboard colour screen. Buttons on the TuneCast 3's face control the two station presets -- so you can switch to another frequency where you come into range of a competing station -- as well as manually change the frequency, while side-mounted buttons switch between stereo and mono transmission, and switch the TuneCast 3 on.

One of the lesser changes from TuneCast II to TuneCast 3 (aside from the strange switch away from Roman numerals) is in the promotion of the device; while the TuneCast II was promoted as an iPod product -- but could work with any player with a 3.5mm audio port -- the TuneCast 3 proudly proclaims that you can "Listen to any MP3 player in your car" with it. No great change of course, and Belkin's not daft; it still lists the exact iPod models that work with it on the back; the fourth generation plus of the base iPod, Nano and Mini to be exact. The omission of the Shuffle is a mystery, but we can't see why it wouldn't work.

The TuneCast 3 also comes with an in-car cigarette lighter adaptor, which will power but not charge the TuneCast 3, and a small mounting dock for sticking the Tunecast 3 to your car dashboard.

Features
The TuneCast 3 takes any audio source and transmits it on a set FM frequency. That's got to be the easiest write-up I've ever done of a product here at CNET.com.au, and that is basically what the TuneCast 3 does, although to be fair it's also what its predecessors did. There are a few key differences that this iteration has introduced, however, and not all of them are entirely positive. On the plus side, the colour screen display of the TuneCast 3 is much easier to read in both bright and dark conditions, and the car mounting kit means it's easy to place it within the driver's view, so you don't need to suffer through crackly reception simply because it's not safe to switch channels.

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