When it comes to in-car radio FM transmitters, you mostly think of big, bulky LED display gadgets, screwed onto a bendable rod that’s plugged into the 12v socket in the centre console of your vehicle. Not many manufacturers buck this trend, because you need buttons, dials and displays to be able to swap easily between different FM settings in order to stream your audio uninterrupted over the radio waves.
FM transmitters have been an in-car technology that’s been around for a number of years, yet with more vehicles being fitted with Bluetooth audio (or even CarPlay) as standard, the method of getting audio onto your in-car FM radio has not really improved much.
The Xiaomi ROIDMI 3S Bluetooth Music Car Charger, available from GeatBest.com, is a tiny little thing that, when I was first received it for review, I thought it was simply a dual 5V 2.4A USB socket. It does do that, but it also streams FM audio to your car radio too!
The Xiaomi ROIDMI 3S – plugged into a Volkswagen GTI centre console
In the box, you just get the ROIDMI 3S and a little card manual. That’s it. Once plugged into your car’s 12V charger socket, and all powered up, this sleek-looking and fairly tiny device turns into a Bluetooth enabled FM transmitter for audio through your car radio.
Unlike the more common FM transmitters selling today, there isn’t any bendy cable mounts or USB sockets that’s difficult to get to the back of once it is all plugged in; neither are there any buttons or displays on the device. What the ROIDMI 3S has done differently here, is that it uses your smartphone and an app instead.
Simply download the ROIDMI App from the Apple App Store (or Google Play if you’re on Android) and once you have paired to its discoverable Bluetooth connection, you’re able to configure its settings via the App and set FM frequencies with a simple swipe on your smartphone screen.
This is a great idea, I first thought. I’ve not really seen many do such a discrete, app-based solution such as this, but this is probably for a good reason though. You see, even with DAB, mobile data and internet streaming, the FM band is still pretty busy with commercial and independent radio stations, all fighting inside such a small 87.5-108Mhz FM range. Even on my short 7-mile commute into work, I’ve yet to find an FM band that is entirely free from interference from another radio station.
The ROIDMI App allows basic functionality and firmware upgradability
This usually means you’ll be changing the frequency a few times, and with the ROIDMI 3S and its lack of buttons and dials on the device, to switch frequency easily, you’ll be doing this via the app if you want clear and uninterrupted audio coming through your car speakers – not ideal whilst on the move.
The app’s interface is large and clear. It’s clearly been designed to be interacted with whilst on the move or whilst in motion. I would have liked the addition of some increase and decrease Mhz buttons to tap on, rather than using the precision of a touch screen dial wheel. With one jolt from driving on the road, this can force your finger to skip a few frequencies, and with little room to find a free, uninterrupted FM channel, you need all the precision you can get in order to find that Mhz ‘sweet spot’ in the FM spectrum.
The ROIDMI 3S measures: (L x W x H): 6.50 x 2.60 x 2.60 cm / 2.56 x 1.02 x 1.02 inches
Connecting to the ROIDMI 3S is quick, and whilst streaming through a clear, interference-free FM channel, the audio from the ROIDMI 3S is clear and crisp. Almost like streaming via Bluetooth directly. All of this is thanks to it’s Bluetooth v4.2 profile, EDR and A2DP technology. For the audiophile amongst you, you may still be able to tell the difference between Bluetooth audio and FM transmission, even with a clear signal. Most of us however will barely notice; and the comparison becomes even harder to judge when listening to talk radio or podcasts.
With its discrete size, the ROIDMI 3S is a great little audio gadget to have in the car. Especially if your car stereo is lacking any Bluetooth audio or CarPlay functionality. Retailing currently at $15.99, it’s price is very appealing, even if you’re looking for a dual 5V 2.4A USB port socket, let alone one that can also transmit FM audio to your in-car stereo. If you’re on the lookout for either I’d certainly give the ROIDMI 3S a look, and if you’re after both of these functionalities, then the Xiaomi ROIDMI 3S is a no brainer!
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