If you have read our review of the Unison i-X5 iPod speakers then you will already know that we have been blown away by the sound quality that Cygnett are capable of producing.
The question is whether that same audio experience can be replicated in portable form courtesy of a FM transmitter and your car stereo.
Experience of such devices tends to suggest that the answer will be negatory, but you never can tell until you test.
Which is how I found myself on the motorway heading to Sheffield for no good reason other than to listen to my iPod.
I’ve said it before and will no doubt say it again: it is a tough job but someone has to review gadgets.
First things first then, looks. Let’s be honest about it, when compared to something as svelte and innocuous as the iTrip the Groove Transporter takes on a rather obese appearance.
The gloss black finish of the test unit matched my iPod Video nicely, and even looked good against the black carbon fibre of my car dash. But there is no getting away from the fact that it is big and bulky, and like all devices which plug into the cig-lighter/accessory socket are ham-strung by its location. In my car it was OK, the Groove Transporter did not interfere with gearbox operation nor get in the way of my knee.
It did, however, wobble around a bit causing the odd clank, until I adjusted it to rest on the base of the centre console tunnel.
If you are using an iPod, pretty much any model except the Shuffle and Shuffle G2 are supported, then connection is via the dock connector and so slick and wire free. If you want to use a different MP3 player, or maybe a PDA or mobile phone to get to your music, then you have to add USB cabling (for charging) and audio cabling (for sound), which looks a real mess it has to be said.
Tuning the device to an available frequency (87.6MHz to 107.9MHz) is as easy as it should be, and a memory function means you don’t have to repeat the exercise every journey. The included remote control means that passengers can annoy the heck out you as your drive, changing tracks and volume with consummate ease.
Of course, you cannot use a fiddly credit card remote while driving so is as good as useless if you are on your own. The nature of an iPod is such that attempting to change these things manually while driving is also dangerous and could leave you open to prosecution if the Old Bill see you a-fiddling.
It’s also a bit on the pricey side if you compare it to the small iTrip and similar devices which retail at under £20, in fact it is more than twice as costly.
Sure, you do get battery charging on the go for your money, so your iPod will never power down in the middle of the motorway. But, to be honest, I always start a long journey with a fully powered iPod and have never experienced this anyway.
And that includes a 10 hour drive to Scotland during which the iPod was playing via an iTrip transmitter for a total of 7 hours. Do you really need to keep it charged when the battery is a good one?
Let’s recap then: big and bulky, no control while driving, expensive.
So what do you get for your money, apart from the charge facility that you might not actually need?
The answer comes right back to the start of this review: audio quality.
The Groove Transporter produces a rich and warm sound, limited by your existing car stereo equipment naturally enough. During my two hour test drive, I experienced not a single dropped signal, not a solitary click or crackle, and no interference from other radio stations or passing minicabs. Unfortunately the sound quality alone is not enough in the case of in-car iPod transmitters.
Size matters, as does the fact that it needs feeding with power so occupies the cig lighter socket your satnav or speed camera detector also wants.
At the end of the day, the price, size and power requirement means I will be sticking to the lower quality audio of the iTrip.
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