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Why the best addon gadget for your MP player is an FM transmitter

Imagine . just for one moment . You're lying on your favorite sun lounger in your garden.

There isn't a cloud in the sky. You can feel the sun's rays on your skin and there is a gentle breeze blowing through your hair. There is a wooden table to your right. On the table is a tall glass. Inside the glass is your favorite ice-cool drink. Next to the glass is a radio.

Out of the radio's speaker you can hear your favorite classical music, audiobooks, old time radio shows, or whatever it is that you enjoy. When whatever you are listening to finishes another one of your favorites will start without you ever having to move a muscle. Life is good! Okay, you can stop imagining now and get back down to reality.

The reason for me wanting you to imagine that scenario is I wanted you to feel just how good it is having a little gadget called an FM transmitter. Some of you reading this will know what I'm talking about, but for those who don't let me explain. An FM transmitter is a rather clever gadget that allows you to transmit sound directly from your computer to any radio in your house. It's completely wireless and works just like a normal radio station, but on a much smaller scale. Here's what happens.

It's really easy. Step 1 - You plug the device into your sound card. Step 2 - You select a frequency on the device that you want to broadcast at.

For example you might select 92.5 FM. Step 3 - You pick a radio show you'd like to listen to and start it playing on your computer. Step 4 - You go to any FM radio in your house and tune it in to 92.5 FM.

Step 5 - You sit down and enjoy The radio needs to be within a certain range, which will vary between 50 feet and 300 feet depending on the strength of the FM transmitter you are using and the number of walls and other obstructions the signal need to pass through to get to you. The wonderful thing about FM transmitters is it allows you to listen to all the MP3 files you have stored on your computer or one of the online music services, whilst at the same time giving you the freedom to move around your house. Luckily, the price of FM transmitters has dropped over the past few years and you should be able to pick up a decent FM transmitter that will work throughout a typical house for less than $100. When purchasing an FM transmitter there are several things you need to consider before you make your decision to buy.

Most important of all is the distance the signal covers. If you live in a tiny apartment there's no need to spend the extra money on a powerful unit that will transmit 1000 feet, unless of course you want the whole neighborhood to be able to tune in to your broadcast. On the other hand, don't buy one that will only transmit 10 feet if you want to listen at the bottom of the garden which is 150 feet from your computer. A second thing to look out for is a digital display.

Some units have no digital display telling you what frequency you are tuned into and require you to turn a screw on the back to adjust the frequency. This procedure can take quite some time as it requires a bit of trial and error. The end result is exactly the same, but with a digital display it is easy to set the FM transmitter to a specific frequency by reading the numbers on the display and then set the radio to exactly the same frequency.

Finally, some units require batteries whereas others run from the mains power supply. If the unit you buy runs off batteries make sure that it has an auto-off facility that will allow you to set a period after which the unit will automatically turn itself off. If you don't have this you'll find yourself wasting a lot of batteries. FM transmitters are ideal for transmitting around your house, but the same technology can also provide an ideal way of listening to your MP3 player in your car without having to invest in an in-car MP3 unit. Just plug a battery powered FM transmitter into your MP3 player and then tune your car stereo into the same frequency.

So, now you know just how easy it is to set-up your very own micro radio station for your very own listening pleasure. Whether you're a music fan, an audiobook lover, or an old time radio aficionado, this is one little gadget that can really add to the overall enjoyment.

Ned Norris is the webmaster of RUSC Old Time Radio (RUSC.COM), one of the oldest and most highly regarded old time radio web sites on the Internet. It's a place where you can relive the golden days of radio at your leisure, download or listen online to 1000s of classic shows, and enjoy regularly updated editorial and reviews on old time radio and related topics.

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