Review: Proporta Wireless FM Stereo Transmitter
So my favourite music albums are already on my smartphone. When I get into my car, I'd like to be able to play this music over the car's music system. Yet, as the owner of a car that's 7 years old and with a player that's not exactly state of the art (thieves please note!), with nowhere to easily plug in an extra audio device, I had a problem.
My old solution was to use a cassette adapter, taking 3.5mm audio input and magnetically transferring this signal into the cassette playback head - it worked for a while and then started playing up, like the kludge it really was. Time for a better and slightly more elegant kludge, methinks.
FM transmitters for in-car use have been around for a few years of course, but in this case the supplier was Proporta (great guys to deal with and supporters of the PDA and phone worlds) and the price was mind-manglingly cheap. Enter their Wireless FM Stereo Transmitter, as shown here, coming with a 3.5mm stereo jack and a 12V car power lead.
In fact, the photo also shows my own 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter, since I wanted to use the accessory with my Nokia E90. N95 and N91 owners will be able to plug the 3.5mm lead directly, of course, while devices with Pop port connectors will need their own 3.5mm adapter, though if you're into audio the chances are that you already own this.
The transmitter can also be powered from two AAA batteries and in my tests a pair of cells lasted many hours (the original pair are still going strong!), somewhat surprisingly. I guess broadcasting FM radio signals isn't as power-intensive as I'd imagined.
Once turned on (and with your smartphone playing music), the transmitter starts broadcasting on its default frequency, 106.7, although extra presses on the front panel button let you toggle to three other frequencies, should you encounter interference.
In terms of range and power, the Proporta Wireless FM Stereo Transmitter worked rather well, I was able to stand on the other side of the road with my E90 and this accessory (on AAA power) and my car radio was still playing back my music tracks without a glitch 8-) Volume wasn't fantastic, relative to 'native' FM signals, so you do have to watch out to turn the volume down before switching back to a traditional station, but with this caveat I've been quite happy.
Noting the price (a meagre £11), you'll be wondering what the catch is. it all comes down to build quality, or rather lack of it. The device is obviously cheaply made in the Far East, with a stiff main button, a peeling top label (the bit with the logo and frequencies) and poorly shielded components, so that physically knocking the transmitter while it's active produces unpleasant chime like noises in the broadcast signal. Still, once you've found a suitable place to mount the accessory, where it can't dangle around and get knocked, you shouldn't have a major problem.
Proporta's FM gadget is built down to a price but does the job surprisingly well and ends up seeming like terrific value for money. It's certainly given my own in-car listening a new lease of life.
Steve Litchfield, 7 June 2007
Reviewed by Steve Litchfield at