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ATPM 11.05
May 2005



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Review: TransPod FM

by Christopher Turner,


Developer: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters

Price: $99 (list)

Requirements: 3G iPod or newer, or iPod mini

Trial: None

Someone must have been telling me something. On the same day as the blurb on MacMinute noting new black and silver versions of DLO’s TransPod, the latest edition of Macworld magazine arrived in my mail box. Within was a full-page ad for the TransPod.

With a long-weekend road trip coming up, I thought it would provide the perfect opportunity for a good review. E-mail communications with DLO’s Vice-President Andrew Green had a silver review unit at my residence the day before we were scheduled to depart. I had requested silver, because I thought it would complement the interior of my Honda Pilot . Unfortunately, the road trip was taking place in my wife’s Odyssey. In reality, it wasn’t unfortunate, as it gave me a chance to look over the mounting options of the TransPod between two distinct vehicles. More on that shortly.

There’s a lot in the TransPod packaging. There is the TransPod module, called the Base Dock by DLO: this is what your iPod or iPod mini will slide in to. The digital FM transmitter is also inside the module. DLO provides an insert for use with the iPod mini, as well as two soft pads that stick to the interior of the TransPod module so your iPod doesn’t rub against hard plastic. One of the two pads is slightly thicker than the other; which one you use depends upon which model iPod you own. After selecting the proper one for my third-generation, 40 GB iPod, I tried the fit. The iPod doesn’t just slide down into the TransPod; you have to give it a little push until it clicks in to the dock connector. It’s a snug fit, which is good, as it means there is no chance of your iPod falling out.

Once the fit of the iPod in the module was confirmed, it was time to look at mounting options, and the TransPod kit provides a couple. There is a two-piece plastic arm set; one piece of the arm has a power adapter plug on the end, so you can plug it directly in to your vehicle’s power socket. Usage of the second arm piece, which is more adjustable than the charging arm, is dependent upon how you want to place the iPod so it’s easy to use. In the Pilot, I elected to use the both pieces of the arm. You can see in the photos below how I arranged the TransPod module.


I really like the setup in the Pilot. The iPod is easily viewable when the vehicle is not in motion, and I can still hit the buttons by touch while driving, should the need arise.

Mounting the TransPod in the Odyssey, however, proved a bit more of a challenge, due to the placement of the power socket at the very base of the center part of the dash, where the dash meets the floorboard. I tried using the arm set-up as in the Pilot, but no matter how I adjusted the joints, I was unable to get the unit high enough that it would be comfortable, and safe, to use. So it was time for option two: the dashboard mount.

Here is where I took points off of the TransPod. The plate provided for mounting to the dash has a place for two screws, also provided in the kit. I was not keen on screwing a mounting plate in to the dash. Those readers who may be leasing a vehicle would certainly not want to do so, as the repair would mean more money out of their pocket when the lease is up. We plan on keeping our Odyssey for many years, but the thought of drilling in to the dash did not appeal to me. Unfortunately, DLO does not provide any other dash-mounting options in the TransPod kit, and I was left to fend for myself.

Fortunately, I had some velcro stripping from a long-ago project left over, and this proved to be the solution I was looking for. The mounting plate was secured to the dash with these velcro strips, then the dash mount arm was attached. I plugged the power adapter in to the Odyssey’s main power socket, then in to the dash mount arm. Finally, the TransPod Base Dock was attached, the iPod slid in to place, and we were ready for our road trip.


One word on attaching the TransPod Base Dock to the dash mount arm or the adjustable power socket arm(s): the dock is designed to attach sideways, then rotated ninety degrees to a vertical position to lock it to the arm. I had no issues with leaving my iPod inside the Base Dock while attaching and detaching the TransPod from either mount, but some iPod owners might be more discriminating than I.

Usage of the TransPod in the automobile is fairly straightforward. At the bottom of the Base Dock is a single-line LCD display. This denotes which FM frequency the unit is set to. Users can adjust the frequency with the up and down buttons on the Base Dock’s right side. If you live in a FM-heavy metropolitan area, DLO has thought ahead and provided a stereo jack on the left side, as an alternative means of output.

I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, and there are a lot of FM stations. I chose the lowest number on the “dial,” 87.9. This proved to be a good choice, as we had no areas of interference during the nine-hour drive from our home in the northern portion of the metroplex to the New Orleans area. Use in the Pilot since our return has also shown no interference with using that frequency. Your mileage may vary, of course, depending upon the strength of the stations in your area who may be operating at any given frequency.

I have been looking for an iPod vehicle mount for some time. My past experiences with FM transmitters had me using a cassette adapter with my iPod. I am pleased to say that the TransPod FM has answered my desires, for now at any rate. I wish DLO offered a non-invasive dash mount, but this doesn’t take away from the TransPod’s operating ability.

Reader Comments (8)

Justin T · May 9, 2005 - 20:48 EST #1
love this, i just got it and thought about returning it, then i realized how much easier it would be to use my ipod in the car, though they should have included some type of remote, so if u are driving with one hand, you dont really have to move or take your eyes off the road. all in all, so far so good
Huston · May 22, 2005 - 18:31 EST #2
Just bought a Transpod from Target (5/22/2005). I had my doubts, but decided to give it a try. I was told by the sales clerk that I had 90 days to return the item for a full credit (with my receipt). So I bought it. And guess what? It works great! I am very pleased with this product. As for mounting, that's not a problem for my 2004 explorer because I have a flat charger plug built into/near the cup holder. So, I just plugged the transpod right in and insterted my iPod (it stands upright) and tuned to channel 89.7 and wam - iPod heaven! I have loaded 900 songs so far and I have it on shuffle so I have commercial free music without knowing what is coming next. Buy it, it works.
Bill · July 16, 2005 - 19:17 EST #3
Just tried the TransPod and when the sound was good, it was really good but it dropped in and out too much to be acceptable in an area with a lot of radio stations (I'm in S. Cal.) Probably fine on an open road but for $107 with tax, I expect better.

FM devices such as this will always be subject to multi path interference; the "flup, flup" sound prevalent in early FM radio. How much you get will depend on a number of things such as the number and power of FM radio stations in the area, other obstacles such as buildings, etc. No doubt my experience would be better in other areas as is true for some of you who have not had problems.

If you buy one, make sure you do so from a retailer who is willing to take it back if you are not happy. Mine goes back tomorrow.
david a, fossett · December 7, 2005 - 02:36 EST #4
Over the years I've bought several Ipods for myself and other members of my family. But I must say, my Ipod mini truly came to life when I puchased a Transpod for my Jeep Wrangler. I live in the Los Angeles metro area, with my Transpod tuned to 90.3 FM, I've experenced absolutely no problems. Lastly, it's flattering to sit at a traffic light with my top down and the motorist in the other lane are curious enough to ask; "What is that apparatus? And how does it work".
Layla · January 4, 2006 - 10:31 EST #5
I have been using my Transpod for several weeks and have had no problems with it. It is easy to install and convenient to use. Does anyone know of a sleeve/skin that will fit my 4g 30gb ipod when it is in the Transpod? I want to protect my ipod- especially the screen, but the sleeve/skin would have to be pretty thin to fit in the Transpod.
Maria · April 20, 2006 - 23:05 EST #6
I live in Miami in a heavy metro area and don't like to leave the transpod plugged in when I park my car. I usually take it and store it in my glove when I get out of the car. I've had it for about a month and a half and the part that fits into the cigarette lighter of the car fell apart yesterday when I removed it. I truly expected something better for $107. I don't know if Best Buy will take it back.
Mark · August 25, 2006 - 18:33 EST #7
I received my transpod as a gift about 9 months ago and it worked great at first. Now it only works sometimes. I have it plugged into the lighter and the green light comes on, but the transmitter does not come on. It also shows that the Ipod is getting charged, so I know the power is getting to the ipod, but the transmitter is dead. I would not recommend this to anyone. Big disappointment.
Marc Gelinas · October 6, 2006 - 14:58 EST #8
I purchased the Transpod for use in my Ford Explorer SportTrac. Based on where the plug is located (lower console) it is not easily adjusted for easy viewing. After less then 20 hours of use the transpod arms have become loose and unreliable. I have returned the unit over a month ago to the manufacturer to get a replacement but as yet no news. I would not recommend this product to anyone !

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