Model: Auto Kit
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, iPod mini, iPod photo
Belkin Auto Kit
All iPod owners will be faced by this problem frequently. A very long road trip! The solution: The Belkin Auto Kit. It was instantly obvious that this is a high quality piece of kit from the smooth plastic to soft rubber cable. The packing is pretty basic and is shown below:
The actual unit that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket in the car is more than loaded. You will notice a ‘volume’ dial and a line-out via a 3.5mm phono connector. What is made obvious by this is that the audio is re-routed from the iPod via the dock connector to the line out on the Auto Kit. A nice Velcro strap is also included to easily secure the cable when it is not in use.
When I looked at the dock connector there were no apparent markings to show which way was ‘up’ but after looking at the male and female dock connectors it was easy to sort out which way it fitted and the position in the image below shows the correct side up.
There was no obvious led in the unit but as soon as I started the car, I was shocked by a cool green glow on the top bulge of the unit. I opted to test the audio via the Auxiliary Line-In to the car’s audio system and it was simply crystal! The line-out is also connected to a volume dial and this amplifier is very strong. It is best to keep this at a low setting and use the cars amplifier to control the volume.
I have spoken with many Auto Kit owners and some suffer from what is called Ground Loop Interference. This basically causes a ‘hum’ in the audio system and as this is very hard to troubleshoot the Auto Kit gets branded as the problematic component. To solve this problem a GLI Isolator needs to be purchased, and they range from $15.00 - 50.00, the cheapest available from RadioShack.
Belkin has made a really fine product and this can be combined with a stand such as the Arkon CM625 and can be used to create a very clean iPod holder for the car. ‘Tonicboy’ has modified his car and a complete how-to is available here. With a little effort you could have something similar to this: