Dexim--manufacturer of accessories for iPhones, BlackBerrys, and other smartphones--has sent us a pair of devices from its car solutions line of products.
The first is the DFU012 Touch Screen FM Transmitter, a universal adapter for smartphones and MP3 players that takes an audio signal and broadcasts it over a low-power FM channel to be picked up by a nearby car stereo.
The device runs on a single AAA battery and should work with any device that features a 3.5mm headphone jack or audio output. At an MSRP of about $30, an FM transmitter such as this is one of the cheapest no-installation ways to a car that lacks an auxiliary input.
However, the DFU012 isn't without its shortcomings, the most obvious being those issues inherent to FM transmission. The signal you'll get out of this transmitter is only as clean as the airwaves around it and, without an autotune function, finding a clear frequency can be tedious. The unit features a monochromatic LCD that won't be unfamiliar to anyone who's owned a $10 digital watch and four touch-sensitive buttons, but calling this a "touch-screen" device is a bit of a stretch.
Next up is the DCA215 Audio Car Mount Charging Holder. Its name is a mouthful, but in a nutshell this is a suction cup mount for the iPhone 4 and 3GS. The unit holds and charges a connected iPhone while driving thanks to an integrated 12-volt charger. There's also an auxiliary audio output, but the implementation is less than graceful.
Rather than pulling audio through the dock connector that's already there, the DCA215 requires users to plug a 3.5mm pigtail into the iPhone's headphone jack, then connect the cradle to the vehicle's auxiliary input with a second 3.5mm patch cable (included, thankfully). It's a rather clunky process and, of course, begs the question of why even send audio through the car mount in the first place?
Additionally, the DCA215 car mount's cradle isn't a perfect fit the iPhone 4 or 3GS. Fortunately, the kit ships with cases for both designs (a transparent gel skin for the iPhone 4 and a black plastic shell for the 3G and 3GS) that take up the slack for a nice, snug fit. Users can also use their iPhone 4 bumper band for the same result. Whether this is a flaw or a feature is entirely dependent upon whether you're in the market for an iPhone case or not. I'm taking the glass-half full approach and thinking of the two included cases as a nice bonus.
Though neither of these products by Dexim is a standout among its peers, both perform as advertised. You may not find yourself stuffing the stockings of your loved ones with this pair, but either would make a fine, low-cost entrant into your office's White Elephant gift exchange.