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Review: Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Payer FM Transmitter

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Me and Gaga

Challenge:

How do you bring your GaGa with you? – as well as your ZZTop, Jeff Beck, and the rest of the gang?

The solution has to be cheap, nearly a throw-away. It has to be simple to operate. Nothing fancy – I just need it to play MP3’s.  And it has to play it through an FM Radio.  Oh, OK, I really want it to use on a motorcycle; and maybe in the car.

I have an iPod Touch and that is great for listening to music, podcasts, audio books, and all the rest. 

But I would rather not take that with me in the car, and on the motorcycle.  What’s the solution.

Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Payer FM Transmitter

After I did a bit of research, I picked up a Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Player/ FM Transmitter with 2GB of memory.  The price was right $19.99 (not $20; just $19.99 – under $20)

Here is the description

The Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range is new from Mach Speed – A wireless MP3 player and FM transmitter that lets you take your tunes to your vehicle. The Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Player/ FM Transmitter is a 12V USB device offers 100 FM frequencies, built-in 2GB of memory, and an additional line-in connection. All you have to do is insert the 12V adaptor end of the Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Player into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter receptacle or power port. Tune your FM radio onto one of the preset frequencies, then use the channel button to set the player’s broadcast frequency to match the one you’ve set on your radio. The Mach Speed CarTunes Max Range MP3 Player/ FM Transmitters features include previous track and volume decrease, play/pause, next track and volume increase, and channel button. This device also works with virtually any media device, or use the internal memory. The CarTunes Max Range is the perfect companion, wherever you may roam.

This is an all-in-one solution of bringing your tunes, podcasts, audio books, and other media with you on the road or any place where you have 12v available.  It has 2 GB of memory on-board as well as a slot for an additional memory card.  It also has a 3.5mm jack for an alternative input if you don’t want to use the built-in MP3 player capability.  In this case, what you feed into the 3.5 mm jack gets transmitted to the FM radio.

The FM transmitter section covers the entire FM broadcast band.  So you can pick any “unused” frequency in your area.  The FM transmitter seems to have good range.  As tested, the range is at least 50 feet.  Used in a vehicle, you will never need this range.  The FM transmitter was powerful enough to overcome some local FM radio stations in the area.

Its simple to load music on the device.  Just plug in the supplied USB cable to the device and a computer.  You know the drill; just drag and drop the MP3’s that you want to play onto the device.  It’s as simple as that.

The Take

Pros

  1. The price is right.  For $20 you can get a combo MP3 player with 2GB of on-board memory, FM transmitter section, alternative inputs (3.5mm jack), and external memory expansion.
  2. The FM transmitter section is more than powerful enough for vehicle use and to overcome weak local FM broadcast stations.
  3. The FM transmitter covers the entire FM broadcast band (88-108Mhz) so it should be easy to find an “unused” frequency in just about any area.
  4. It’s one-piece, no wires, and easy to take with you.
  5. Simple operation.  Previous song; next song; pause
  6. The device remembers what song was playing and the FM transmit frequency  the last time you powered it down.  When you power it back up, it picks up where it left off.

Cons

  1. The display is way too small to be useful.  You will need a magnifying glass to see all the information that is in the display.  In a display as big as your fingernail is the name of the song playing, a spectrum display, bit rate, length of the song playing, a few more things.  Add to this the fact that it is generally in your 12v accessory plug located away from easy view while you are driving.  There is no way you are going to be able to read the display.
  2. No playlists, no easy navigation of the songs on the device.
  3. No shuffle play
  4. No on/off switch.  Plug it in, it boots, and starts playing.  Pause is the only option; no “off”.

Conclusion

I have an iPod Touch but I don’t want to drag it around with me in vehicles, especially a motorcycle.  The Mach Speed Car Tunes Max Range MP3 Player with FM Transmitter is an inexpensive solution to bringing your tunes with you which plays through a standard FM broadcast radio receiver within a range of about 50 feet.

The controls are minimal.  It is difficult to navigate the songs other than previous and next song.  The digital display is too small to be useful.  There is no shuffle play – for those who do not like predictability.

All in all – this is a useful “throw-away” device that serves a useful purpose.  It’s simple and direct.  Load it with up to 2GB of music and go.  If it gets trashed, lost, or vibrated to death on a motorcycle – it only $20 lost.  Between the time you buy it and the time  it ends up in the trash, this device should provide sufficient utility to justify the $20 cost of this all-in-one solution to bringing your tunes mobile without placing a more expensive MP3 player at risk in adverse environments.

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Written by frrl

June 8, 2010 at 4:20 am

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3 Responses

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  1. need driver for cartunes max, anybody know where to get it. my computer cannot find driver to install.

    Anonymous

    April 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm

  2. Hey. Just fount your blog while googling for more info on the Car Tunes. Just wanted to let you know it does in fact have folder select and shuffle, though it’s not apparant how to get to it.

    Press and hold B+ until the menu comes up. Press <> to go through the menus and B+ to select. You can choose folders, activate shuffle, and turn up the contrast so the display is easier to read.

    Hope this helps!

    Kyle Atrus

    November 15, 2010 at 9:12 am

    • You are correct sir.

      I gave this a try. The menu item is called “Random”. Great, I hated listening to my songs in order.

      For those other folks reading. This works in the home as well as in the car. When you hook this up to a USB cable the unit powers up and starts to play and transmit. So, put your songs on it, fire it up, then tune your home theater system tuner to the frequency you set and listen throughout your house.

      This unit also has an AuxIn. So, any input can be transmitted. The key idea is that you don’t need 12v to power this unit – it can be powered off the USB cable when plugged into a PC (or could be any USB power – have not tried that yet)

      Don’t forget that if 2GB is not enough memory – it also has a slot for an external memory card.

      For $20 this is a deal.

      frrl

      November 18, 2010 at 5:40 am


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