You can get a pretty good car stereo with an iPod dock for around a hundred bucks, but maybe you want something easier to install. And by easier, I mean, “no install whatsoever”. Like an FM transmitter. These things generally aren’t good but they’re better than nothing. I just spent a day looking at every possible option and I think the perfect one is the GOGroove Flexsmart X2 Advanced.
Now, I’ve used many bad ones that I bought before doing the homework. The problem is that no one reviews these anymore but the users on Amazon. The GoGroove has an astounding 572 reviews from buyers with an average score of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Which is amazing because the rest of the stuff that GOGroove sells looks like panda bear shaped speakers and headphones. Crazy town.
First off, it’s universally compatible with any music player–Between the bluetooth music receiver and the 1/8th inch headphone-type jack, you can use it with both streaming music players like smartphones or regular old mp3 players. You can even use it with your mom’s walkman.
It can charge any of those aforementioned gadgets through it’s USB port and with whatever cable your gadget came with. (Not the walkman.)
And it automatically tunes to the best frequency with a single touch–which is a big deal because if you are on a road trip, you’ll inevitably have to rescan for open frequency on your radio, and that’s kind of sort of dangerous to do while weaving through traffic.
It also eschews the seemingly-great but actually-horrible integrated gadget holder. Those won’t work well if your cigarette lighter is old and loose, like mine is in my old truck. Every time you hit a bump or hit a button usually will unplug any FM transmitter that doubles as a holder. And let’s face it. It’s 2011 and if you’re still using an FM transmitter, your car is probably like mine. Not pretty.
The GOGroove also works as a Bluetooth speakerphone, but I can’t assume it works very well in this capacity. People say it does, though.
What else is out there? Not much. The Griffin, Monster and DLO docks mostly all have middling reviews on Amazon. Ranging from $5 to $125, I’ve used several and haven’t been happy, ever. This GOGroove costs $45, which is about mid priced in my experience. There is another weirdo brand of FM transmitter that people love called Soundfly, but most of these don’t change things like smartphones unless you spend over $50 on the adapters. They also look super scary.
The only other option I found was a $25 barebones adapter that charges anything via a USB port and plays anything through a 1/8th inch headphone jack cable. It’s called the Griffin iTrip Universal. If you don’t need or want to stream music wirelessly over bluetooth, this could be an even better deal. But I didn’t choose it as the ultimate model because it’s likely to be more complicated to scan for open FM channels. The display is not backlit and it won’t auto scan for blank frequencies. Imagine driving late at night and all of a sudden your music cuts out and you have to turn on the interior light and scan for open stations manually? I’ve done this and I don’t know why I didn’t end up upside down in a ditch.
If you want to live, and can spare an extra $20, get the GOGroove. Otherwise, remember to fill out your organ donor card.