FM transmitters have become a rather popular car accessory these days, as most car manufacturers have yet to settle on MP3-capable CD players as a standard feature. Burning a limited amount of tracks to Audio CDs can be a pain, so many are turning to playing songs from their portable MP3 players. Because many cars also lack aux input for audio, you have to use something called an FM transmitter to interface between the MP3 player and the head unit.
The FM transmitter basically takes your MP3 player’s audio output and transmits it on an FM frequency that you specify. Then you tune your head unit in to the frequency and you get to listen to whatever songs the MP3 player is playing. Some FM transmitters are standalone, and they read songs from a memory card like an SD card. Some are rather premium, like the iTrip for the iPod.
The Nokia N78 succeeds the N73 Music Edition, and at first sight you might assume it is just another candybar phone that’s aimed at those who want an MP3 player in their mobile phone. But one unique feature is that the phone has a built-in FM transmitter. You just select the FM frequency that you want to transmit your music on and activate the transmitter. Then just tuned into the selected frequency on your car head unit. The phone transmits RDS text as well – “Nokia”, but it would be better if the song title could be transmitted as well.
VIDEO: Nokia N78
Other features of the N78 include A-GPS with Nokia Maps 2.0, Wifi, 3.5G HSDPA connectivity, support for standard 3.5mm headphone plugs, a 3.2 megapixel camera, and Nokia Internet Radio. I’m thinking with an unlimited data plan, you could stream the internet radio to your car audio. That should give those who are bored of our local radio channels some variety.
Of course, hardcore audiophiles will never consider something like this as there’s just so much loss of quality incurred through all the multiple layers of mediums – even including air – that the audio has to go to before it reaches your speakers. Track-by-track CD audio is the choice for quality.