As much as we’d like to praise iKit’s latest accessory, the “FM Transmitter + Car Charger” AutoCon ($45), there’s a certain not-so-little problem that prevents this supposedly iPod-, iPhone-, and iPad-compatible device from being exactly what most people would expect it to be. The good news is that AutoCon is one of the more stylish FM transmitter designs we’ve seen, with fancy blue metallic plugs that connect the transmitter to the included black glossy car charging bulb and your iPod/iPhone/iPad. iKit has used a matching blue-backlit screen that it confusingly describes as “Multi-Touch,” indicating the current radio station with large, bright numbers alongside capacitive track, play/pause, and call start/end buttons that work one at a time to control those features on Apple’s devices. One side of the transmitter includes silver radio tuning buttons, and the back has a microphone hole for iPhone handsfree use. The bad news is that, like the “Multi-Touch” reference, the “Car Charger” claim isn’t quite right. AutoCon can’t recharge your device and work as an FM transmitter at the same time: there’s no Dock Connector, so the only thing it powers is the FM transmitter — you need to supply your own Apple USB charging cable (and/or a second charger and car power outlet) to provide power to both items simultaneously. Additionally, the screen’s button lights go out after a brief period of inactivity, so you won’t be able to see them in a dark car unless you play with the radio tuner to reactivate them. iKit has a nice enough idea and industrial design on its hands here, but the electronic execution could really use some rethinking.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPod, iPhone, iPad (2010)