Last night I spent a fair amount of time researching MP3 players, as I fancied one for my birthday, which is later this month. For some time I have quite liked the look of the Philips SA3115, which has a very respectable 1GB of memory and an enormous colour screen. However, there were other factors to consider beyond the MP3 player itself. The thing is, I currently play pretty much all my music through my computer, so the need for an MP3 player is somewhat redundant. The only time I would need an MP3 player is in the car, which raises problems of its own.
I have a very nice CD player in my Mini. The trouble is, it’s not exactly new, and doesn’t have an auxilliary input to it, so I can only listen to CDs or radio. Now, there are some solutions here that don’t require me getting a new head unit, the most intriguing is an FM transmitter. The idea here is that you plug your MP3 player into this transmitter, and it transmits the music via a short-range radio frequency, which you can then tune into. Cunning. I looked at several different implementations of this idea, each with their own pros and cons; there are little battery powered units that you just plug into the headphone socket and transmit, like this one, but they have limited battery life and aren’t particularly attractive to look at. You can also get similar versions that plug into a cigarette lighter socket, like this, solving the power problem, except that my Mini doesn’t have a cigarette lighter socket. The most impressive one I found though was another cigarette lighter attachment, but which had both a headphone jack and a USB socket! The idea with the USB socket is that you can plug any USB drive into it, whether it’s an MP3 player or not, and the device will play all the MP3s on it. Very nice.
So that added another dimension to the decision process. I also found a rather nifty MP3 player that had an FM transmitter built-in! It was rather pricy though, and didn’t look quite my style. I do quite like the idea of a nice big colour screen, and an iPod look-alike seemed like the best way forward. Amazon.co.uk provided a lot of options in various brands, and I spent a good hour or two weighing up the options there.
In the end I bit the bullet and purchased something. I’ve gone for a 4GB (!!) Tecknet V70 in black, which comes with a simple cigarette lighter FM transmitter. I’ll just have to fit a socket in the Mini somewhere and tuck it out of sight. If I wire it into the loom in the right place I can just keep it plugged in all the time, and effectively only have it on when the ignition is on, and then keep it completely out of sight save for the end of the wire which can plug into whatever MP3 player we have handy. I’m also thinking of fixing the MP3 player itself to my dashboard using a rather cunning solution – velcro. I looked into buying a mobile phone cradle, but I’m just not convinced that with all the bouncing around it would actually stay put in a Mini. Velcro on the other hand is cheap, unobtrusive, self-adhesive yet easy to remove if necessary, easily strong enough to hold an MP3 player, and could potentially hold anything with velcro stuck to it, so I could even mount my mobile phone in the same way.
So all pretty exciting! All being well the MP3 player should arrive either on my birthday or a few days after, depending on whether they dispatch the package on the date they told me on the web site and how long it takes from dispatch to delivery. That should give me plenty of time to pick up a 12V socket and mount it in the car somewhere. Yay! Birthdays are fun, it’s one of the few times of the year when I can justify treating myself to something unnecessary!