Have you ever been on a long car ride and hated every minute of it
because you can't find anything you like on the radio? This happens to
most of us and can turn even the most enjoyable road trip into an
exercise in drudgery. Fortunately, with just one or two iPod car
accessories, you can bring your favorite tunes along with you and never
again have to settle for what's playing on the radio.
Make Every Car Ride a Joy Ride
its most basic, there are two iPod car accessories you will need to
listen to your music on the road: one to give you a way to hear the
music, and one to keep the power on. Most of the time, the iPod car
accessory will cover both needs, either in one unit or as a kit, but
understanding these two requirements will help you select the best
product or products for your needs.
Listening to your iPod in the
car first requires a way to get the music from your iPod to your radio.
There are several iPod car accessories that can do this for you. The
most popular option is an FM transmitter that you plug into your iPod
and set to broadcast on an unused station. All you have to then do is
tune your radio to the channel your iPod is broadcasting to and you
have instant music. The lack of wires running out of your iPod is part
of the appeal of an FM transmitter.
Another option if your car
radio has a cassette player is an adapter goes from your iPod to the
cassette slot, just like the adapter many of us have used to connect up
a portable CD player to the radio's cassette player. If you already
have one of these lying around somewhere you won't even need to buy
anything because it will plug into the headset plug of the iPod!
third option is to have a permanent connection installed for your iPod.
After-market radios usually have an accessory input where an iPod car
accessory adapter can be plugged in, and a cable run out from behind
the dashboard that you plug into your iPod. While this option will give
the best sound quality of all the others, it will also be the most
expensive because it will require professional installation. But if you
spend a lot of time in your car, it will be worth it. Many car
manufacturers are also now offering this kind of iPod connectivity as
an option in their higher-end models.
iPod speakers are also an
option for listening to your iPod in your car. They're not an ideal
solution, since they can rattle around the car and fall off the seat or
rear deck. If you already have a set of speakers that don't rely on AC
power this can be a workable, if inelegant solution.
Keep the (Power) Lights On
of these iPod car accessories are either power-neutral (don't draw
power from the iPod but don't provide power to it either) or draw power
from the iPod. If all of your driving consists of commuting to the
office and you charge your iPod between trips, this isn't so bad. But
if you're driving long distance, you're going to need a way to keep the
juice flowing to the iPod so you don't drain its battery and end up
stuck listening to the radio again.
To keep your iPod playing, a
car charger is a necessity. It's a simple cable that runs from your
car's power adapter or cigarette lighter and keeps your iPod charged
while it plays. The great thing is, you can listen to your iPod for
your whole drive, then when you've arrived you can take your iPod out
of the car and it's fully charged and ready to keep you entertained
wherever you go next. Most, but certainly not all, connection kits
include a charger.
Some of the permanent connections also include
a power connection. If you're getting one installed in your car, make
sure this is included or you'll still have to buy a power adapter. If
it's a factory-installed connection, check your owner's manual to see
if it provides power to your iPod. Generally, if the connection is made
to the headset port, then you'll need a power adapter but if it's
connected to the docking port, you won't.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
is an important issue to bring up when using iPod car accessories. Make
sure you don't let your iPod distract you from your driving! Try to
avoid changing volume or tracks while your car is moving. One of the
great things about permanent connections is that many of them allow you
to control your iPod using the controls of the radio itself. This is
especially handy if your radio has wheel-mounted controls. If you're
using a stand-alone adapter, try to position your iPod so you can see
it without taking your eyes off the road. If you can't, just plug the
iPod in, hit play, and forget about it. It's not worth dying just
because you don't want to listen to one song.