It’s pretty rare these days that I’m pleasantly surprised by something. However, it happened recently when I bought an in-car kit for my Zune player. Frankly, my expectation levels weren’t that high. Not because I suspected there would be anything wrong with it per se, but rather because I have used these kind of gadgets before and found that they never worked that well.
So what does the Zune In-Car kit do? It plugs into your cigarette lighter and into your Zune, and transmits your music on an FM frequency of your choice so that you can tune in your car radio to listen to it. Perfect for car music systems that don’t have an aux socket.
My doubt about the kit was based on a previous FM transmitter that I bought a while ago that frankly didn’t work all that well. The reception was poor and crackly and I could never seem to find a frequency that was reasonably clear.
What about the Zune kit then? Well, when you unpack it, it’s evident that this is a fairly classy piece of kit. Yes it includes the necessary plug for your cigarette lighter and for your Zune, but also provides a nice digital display that is magetised so that it can easily be slotted onto the end of the cigarette lighter plug.
And I quite like it that the end of the cigarette lighter plug has the Zune logo on it. Nice little touch.
You also get a rubber pad for putting on the dashboard, which you can then put your Zune onto so that it doesn’t slip around.
I like that too. But then came the real surprise – the FM transmitter uses RDS to display the artist and track number on your radio. Now that’s pretty cool. When you switch it on you see “Zune” displayed on your radio, and when you start playing a track it changes to show the artist and track name.
So in the example below I’m listening to Rihanna.
Now, in my car the same information can also be displayed on the dashboard in the middle of the speedometer dial.
Even nicer. So I can see the artist and track name that’s playing on my Zune without having to look away or try to peer at the Zune player itself.
Of course, while the Zune is attached it’s also effectively running off mains power and charging, so you have no fear of running out of juice if you’re going on a long trip.
And finally, the wire from the cigarette lighter to the Zune acts as an aerial so reception is pretty good – it’s definitely much better than the previous device I used.
All in all I can definitely recommend the Zune in-car kit. As I said at the beginning it’s not often I’m pleasantly surprised by something but it has definitely been the case with this piece of equipment.