OS5 handhelds usually can play media files. Car audio systems usually don’t have a headphone plug. But since all car audio systems can handle FM radio, the transmission of such signals is a logical conclusion. And this is where a FM transmitter comes in.
Brando ships its stuff per regular mail. Customs left the pretty stuffed envelope alone:
The SongBird FM transmitter is packaged in a big blue box:
Inside, there is the transmitter, a car lighter plug(not reviewed) and a little english/chinese manual:
The transmitter is a bit thicker than a Palm. This image shows a Tungsten T3, a Tungsten E2 and a Palm IIIc:
Power can be supplied via a the car charger or another 5VDC supply(very small plug). Alternately, 2 (rechargeable) AAA batteries can be used. I can personally recommend AccuPowers digital power series because of the high capacity and quality.
A big button controls the power supply. You need to press it once to power on, and it then locks in this position. Powering off can not be done automatically-another press is needed. A red LED indicates powered on state, four LED’s inform you about the channel beeing used. It can be selected with a slider button:
The 3.5′ cable connects to the headphone jack of the handheld. The cable is just 14cm long, so you will need to keep the unit close to the sound source. BTW, the cable can dock into the top of the transmitter if it isn’t used.
The transmitter is said to support eight frequencies:
However, I could not tune into the lower four with the radio on my desk!
The sound quality on the upper channels(106-107) is ok. Bass,… comes over to the radio pretty well. Headphones beat the sound quality though. This has nothing to do with the transmitter. A local PCB design specialist told me that this is due to FM technology-it cannot beat MP3′s. A range of more than three meters leads to a small bit of distortion, but 5-10m are no real problems(you still hear o.k.).
When powered on, the power button is said to be disabled and a battery change circuit is said to be active. However, we could not test this due to lack of a usable charger.
Last but not least, using these devices is illegal in some countries.
To cut a long story short-this thing does a good job supplying your car with tunes. It is well designed and simply works. However, if given the choice between wire input and this transmitter, I would go for the wire because of less legal risks and higher quality(I am sensitive to scratching,…).