Thumbs Down for Belkin TuneBase FM with Hands-Free for iPhone/iPod

I’ve been using an old Belkin charger/FM transmitter with an iPod video for several years with no serious complains. I haven’t used it with my iPod touch, iPhone or 5th generation iPod nano because it doesn’t have the adapter to hold those devices securely in place. My concern is that simply sticking an iPhone or iPod in the stand might ruin the connector as it rocks back and forth in an unsupported cradle. So, I recently bought a…

Belkin TuneBase FM with Hands-Free

It seemed like it could adjust to almost any iPhone or iPod without using any dock adjusters. You can see in the photo above that it has an adjustabe clip to deal with devices of different heights. But, it turns out that the this product has a lot of problems.

My current Belkin FM transmitter is a simple device. You plug an iPod into the dock connector, tune to an open FM channel, and start using it. The TuneBase FM requires two connectors for reasons I don’t understand. Unlike the older device I have, it requires you to insert an 3.5mm mini-jack into an iPod or iPhone for sound? Why doesn’t it get the sound from the dock connector? Having to insert and remove two items everytime is just a waste of time.

The next problem is the sliding adjuster. The release is on the inside. So, once you insert an iPod or iPhone, you can’t really reach it easily to remove the device. This means I had to wiggle the iPod on the connector a bit to remove it. This seems like a good way to damage the connector.

The FM TuneBase’s radio transmitter seemed much weaker than the older Belkin I use. It couldn’t get a clear sounding signal to my radio.

The worst problem, however, is that it simply didn’t work with the iPod video (4th generation), iPod nano (5th generation), iPod touch (1st generation), or iPhone 3G that I tested with it. The pause/play button beneath the “Belkin” label in the photo above simply didn’t work. Even worse, it seemed to randomly scroll through the menus of my iPod nano without me touching anything. I have the voice menu option turned on and could hear it scrolling through the items. At one point, it selected the song list and started scrolling through song names.

Needless to say, I returned the Belkin FM TuneBase for a full refund (good ol’ Costco!). I may buy and try the Griffin iTrip AutoPilot next. However, reviews I’ve read say its FM transmitter is on the weak side too.

Publish date: October 5, 2009 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT