Digital music aficionados who are constantly behind the wheel are often faced with the dilemma of how to connect their MP3 players to their car stereos. The lucky ones have head units with direct line-in ports, and a few may even be driving around in vehicles old enough to sport the good-old cassette deck. Either instance requires a simple wired attachment, but for those who aren't blessed with such accoutrements, playing MP3 audio in the car is a little more challenging. Two options remain: custom install a hardwire connection or play music over often-spotty FM transmitters. Thankfully, there are a handful of transmitters on the market with solid performance, including the Eznex EzCube, a tiny device that connects to any MP3 player and will set you back about $50.
The EzCube is by far the smallest FM transmitter we've had our hands on, measuring just 1 inch cubed. Most MP3 players will dwarf the device, with the exception of the MobiBlu Cube, which strongly resembles it. The EzCube features a small, monochrome screen with a backlight; it displays radio frequency along with preset information. On the top edge of the device you'll find a power button and an M key, which stands for memory and allows you to set up to four presets. The left side of the transmitter features tuner buttons, and the right has two ports: one for connecting the included cigarette lighter charger and another for attaching an MP3 player via the packaged line-in cable.
The overall design is among the most compact for an FM transmitter, but it's also slightly messy, with the two cables and a lack of any console-mounting system. During testing, the whole setup was piled haphazardly into the ashtray of the car--not ideal. Also, because the EzCube is made for any MP3 player (not iPod-specific, for example), it won't charge your device while in use. These are both fairly minor gripes, however.
The considerable plus is that the EzCube is a very solid little performer. We're pretty shocked that Eznex managed to cram such a strong transmitter into such a tiny package, actually. The unit pushed out to every open frequency in San Francisco fairly clearly, which is rare. It wasn't able to keep a strong connection with many of them as we drove around the city, but we found at least one station that kept a clear signal as we moved around a 4-mile radius. Audio quality for music isn't the best--bass in particular is lacking--but this is a weakness with every FM transmitter we've tested. The important thing is to get clear playback, and this device definitely delivers there.