Monday, February 7, 2011

Doing What It’s Supposed To, It’s Hard To Complain About The Macally PodTape Car Adapter!

The Good: Very basic, durable piece of equipment
The Bad: Seems a little expensive for what it does.
The Basics: A remarkably simple device, the iPod Cassette Tape adapter from Macally works to connect MP3 players to car stereos.

With the arrival of my new, purple iPod Shuffle (reviewed here!), I have been doing more with making my music collection portable. In New York State, like many states, there is a law against driving with headphones on and as a result, I've been unable to listen to the music on my iPod products while I drive. That all changed with the Macally PodTape iPod Cassette Tape Car Adapter, which is increasingly becoming an outdated piece of equipment and one of my favorite new toys. Using this, I have become able to listen to my music collection . . . or at least as much as I have on my iPods.

The Cassette Tape Car Adapter is a very simple device and while Macally markets it toward iPods, all experiences I've had with it show that it will work on any MP3 player that has a jack for headphones. Intended for use in automobiles that have cassette players, the Macally PodTape adapter is designed to play music from MP3 players over the stereo in a car. This allows one to listen to the music from their MP3 player with the richness of car stereo speakers and, assuming the audio file quality is sufficient, this can be an excellent way to listen to several c.d.s worth of music without having to carry c.d.s in the car.

To use the Macally PodTape iPod Cassette Tape Car Adapter, simply turn on the tape deck on your car stereo and place the adapter inside. The adapter is shaped like an audio cassette and it will fit any deck which is designed for audio cassettes. The plain plastic cassette shell fits in and has a three foot cord which leaves the tape deck. That connects to the iPod or other MP3 player through the headphone jack. Then, simply hit “play” on your car stereo and turn the MP3 player on and it will play through your car stereo's speakers! Rather incredibly, this very basic product works exceptionally well and volume control may be adjusted through the MP3 player or the car stereo (or both). The adapter makes it very easy to listen to an iPod worth of music without constantly changing the c.d.s or audio cassettes and that makes the roads safer for everyone!

Because the signal from the MP3 player is transferred directly to the metal head of the adapter as it goes through the cassette-shaped adapter, the car stereo receives the audio signal with digital clarity. This is, essentially, the same design of adapters that were used to make portable c.d. players interface with audio cassette decks and just as those devices maintained the c.d. quality of the source material, so too does the Macally PodTape Adapter. Of course, here is where digital media and the stereo equipment might have drastically different apparent qualities. When transferring files to my iPod through iTunes, I converted most of the files to MP3 files. The file size difference between a c.d. file and an MP3 is sometimes as great as 14:1 depending on the density of the information on the c.d. (i.e. the same album might be 14 MB as a c.d. file, but only 1 MB as a MP3 file). While this change in quality does not offer any difference to the ear on a pair of iPod earbuds, when channeled through the car stereo speakers, there is a different sound from the original c.d.s on some of the tracks.

This, however, is not the fault of the Macally PodTape Adapter. It simply transfers the information. It is a glorified cord which connects the MP3 player to the car stereo. The resulting music is only as good as the source material.

The adapter itself is made of plastic and the cord is plastic coated as well, but remains very supple, no matter how hot or cold the car gets (at least it has over the few months of use I've had so far). The cord and adapter clean off easily with a wet cloth.

Because I have not (yet) found a similar product which connects the MP3 player to my car's c.d. player, the Macally PodTape Adapter works well on the tape deck which I would otherwise not use. It is almost enough of an argument to downgrade one's car stereo system just to use. Then again, I'm sure that newer cars come with MP3 ports. But for us using older vehicles and newer portable audio equipment, the Macally PodTape Adapter works excellently for making the portable digital library legally portable in the car once again!

For other iPod products, please check out my reviews of:
iBud Earphones
iPod Touch
Apple silicone sleeve for iPod Nano


For other reviews of electronics products, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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