DLO TransDock Deluxe
One of our favorite in-car iPod FM transmitters just got better. The DLO TransDock Deluxe ($129) improves on last year's TransPod by adding video output, a USB charging port, a remote control, and a more attractive design.
Make no mistake, the DLO TransDock Deluxe is not your typical puny iPod FM transmitter. Instead, the TransDock is an unapologetically big, beautiful in-car iPod dock that comes in four pieces: a dock, a stand, an extender, and a remote control. Once assembled and connected to your car's cigarette lighter, the TransDock stands out physically and aesthetically from your car's console. If you're looking for a modest in-car iPod charger/FM transmitter that can be easily stowed away and taken between cars, turn back now.
We're thrilled to see that the DLO TransDock Deluxe retains everything we loved about the TransPod (large display, line output, aux input). It ups the ante with some exciting improvements. One of the biggest selling points for the TransDock is the inclusion of an iPod remote control that fastens to your car's steering wheel.
The TransDock's remote features seven buttons for controlling music playback, station selection, preset selection, and iPod backlight activation. A Velcro fastener and tiny brace is used to attach the remote to your steering wheel. This same Velcro strap can also be easily undone, allowing the remote to be reoriented for right- or left-hand use.
Overall, we found the TransDock's remote control very useful, though we would have preferred to have volume control on the remote, rather than station control. Users who aren't sold on the idea of a remote control can always save some money by opting for the non-Deluxe version of the TransDock.
Another notable addition to the DLO TransDock Deluxe is the inclusion of a full-size USB port on the bottom of the iPod charging cradle. The USB port can be used for charging most USB-compatible devices, such as cell phones, MP3 players, Bluetooth headsets, or even a Sony PSP. If the remote control and USB port weren't enough, a composite video output is also included.
While video output might seem like a strange feature for an in-car iPod dock, those of you with rear-seat entertainment displays will find the option valuable on long road trips. Unfortunately, the video output feature on the TransDock is compatible only with the 5G video iPod at the moment, leaving owners of the iPod Classic, iPod Touch, and third-generation iPod Nano out of the loop.
Despite its many bells and whistles, we found the sound quality of the TransDock's FM transmission about par for the course. With FCC regulations on consumer FM transmitters tighter than ever, there's really not much that manufacturers can do about boosting transmission quality. Fortunately, users with an auxiliary input on their car stereo can route audio from the TransDock's line output for unbeatable sound quality.
Of course, those same users could save the $130 and just plug their iPod directly into their stereo, but then they'd miss out on having a versatile charging dock and remote control. For those of us not lucky enough to be blessed with an iPod-friendly car stereo, the DLO TransDock Deluxe offers a great value and an attractive design.