In an iLounge exclusive pre-Macworld Expo tease, iPod accessory maker XtremeMac has delivered to us a new FM transmitter designed to compete directly against Griffin Technology’s popular iTrip: AirPlay ($39.95), a considerably smaller-than-iTrip transmitter that boasts a built-in LCD tuning screen and the slogan “Smaller. Simpler. Better.” As shown in the attached pictures (click Read More to see them), AirPlay’s black on bluelit screen is easy to read, and lights up only when you’re tuning. XtremeMac stresses that the built-in screen overcomes the single biggest issue – realtime tuning – that people have reported with the iTrip.
Despite its small size, AirPlay features a surprisingly robust broadcasting range and, under the right circumstances, impressively clear audio. One channel where it was tested – 88.3 – sounded superb, even at a considerable distance. (Like other FM transmitters, it struggles on channels with interference, but we haven’t run it through our regular tests yet to determine its usability in the most challenging radio market we’ve seen – Southern California.) Using a coiled antenna to compensate for its tiny packaging, AirPlay fits neatly on the tops of full-sized iPods and iPod minis, leaving either unit’s Hold switch exposed. Expect a full iLounge review soon.