Small, portable FM transmitters can be a convenient way to wirelessly broadcast your MP3 player to a nearby radio. Some popular transmitters, such as the Griffin iTrip, work only with Apple's iPod line of MP3 players, while universal transmitters such as the i.Sound Wireless Waves ($35) can be used with any portable music player with a 3.5mm headphone jack. While universal products certainly are handy in today's ever-changing sea of gadgets, the i.Sound Wireless Waves simply has too many drawbacks for us to recommend it.
The Wireless Waves FM transmitter measures 3 inches by 1.5 inches by 0.75 inch, and is connected to a 7-inch-long white cable that ends in a 3.5mm headphone plug. Unlike the majority of portable FM transmitters, such as the Belkin TuneCast II or the DLO Transdock, the Wireless Waves omits the useful digital tuner display. Instead, the front of the Wireless Waves has just one button that is used to turn the device on and off, as well as switch between four predefined stations. A battery compartment is located on the back of the Wireless Waves, concealing a space for the two AAA batteries that power it.
If there's one great reason to avoid the i.Sound Wireless Waves, it's the fact that there's no way to fine-tune the FM transmitter. If you're searching for an empty channel to broadcast your music on, the Wireless Waves only offers four stations: 88.1, 88.3, 88.5, and 88.7. If none of those stations are satisfactory, then you're out of luck. By spending just $10 more, you could get one of the aforementioned competitors and have luxurious control of the full FM frequency band.