Ian Moulster's blog

A Microsoft employee translating Microsoft technology into plain English

The Zune In-Car Kit

The Zune In-Car Kit

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It’s pretty rare these days that I’m pleasantly surprised by something. However, it happened recently when I bought an in-car kit for my Zune player. Frankly, my expectation levels weren’t that high. Not because I suspected there would be anything wrong with it per se, but rather because I have used these kind of gadgets before and found that they never worked that well.

So what does the Zune In-Car kit do? It plugs into your cigarette lighter and into your Zune, and transmits your music on an FM frequency of your choice so that you can tune in your car radio to listen to it. Perfect for car music systems that don’t have an aux socket.

My doubt about the kit was based on a previous FM transmitter that I bought a while ago that frankly didn’t work all that well. The reception was poor and crackly and I could never seem to find a frequency that was reasonably clear.

What about the Zune kit then? Well, when you unpack it, it’s evident that this is a fairly classy piece of kit. Yes it includes the necessary plug for your cigarette lighter and for your Zune, but also provides a nice digital display that is magetised so that it can easily be slotted onto the end of the cigarette lighter plug.

Cigar 1Cigar 2

And I quite like it that the end of the cigarette lighter plug has the Zune logo on it. Nice little touch.

You also get a rubber pad for putting on the dashboard, which you can then put your Zune onto so that it doesn’t slip around.

Player on pad

I like that too. But then came the real surprise – the FM transmitter uses RDS to display the artist and track number on your radio. Now that’s pretty cool. When you switch it on you see “Zune” displayed on your radio, and when you start playing a track it changes to show the artist and track name.

Zune on radio

So in the example below I’m listening to Rihanna.

Radio far

Radio close

Now, in my car the same information can also be displayed on the dashboard in the middle of the speedometer dial.

Zune dash Dash

Even nicer. So I can see the artist and track name that’s playing on my Zune without having to look away or try to peer at the Zune player itself.

Of course, while the Zune is attached it’s also effectively running off mains power and charging, so you have no fear of running out of juice if you’re going on a long trip.

And finally, the wire from the cigarette lighter to the Zune acts as an aerial so reception is pretty good – it’s definitely much better than the previous device I used.

All in all I can definitely recommend the Zune in-car kit. As I said at the beginning it’s not often I’m pleasantly surprised by something but it has definitely been the case with this piece of equipment.     

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  • Pretty cool.

    note: The plugin for my Zune on my Harley is my front Jeans pocket. ;-)

  • :-)

  • Hello,

    I need to know the URL / Site from where we can purchase the same kit as you are using. You can email me the URL & Price so that I can also make use of this Kit.

    Waiting...

    ilovezune@arvindgaba.com

    Arvind

  • A good question, here's the official link: http://www.zune.net/en-US/products/z/zunecarpack/details.page/ that provides you with a number of retailers (US only). You may be able to get it from elsewhere, a live.com search would be a good idea, try a search for "official zune car pack"

  • Hey Ian. I presume you got your Zune when you've been visiting the US (and with a nice company discount I'd imagine!) but do you know any good places/websites in the UK that import them and sell them on?

  • As far as I know they cannot be legally sold in the UK (or indeed outside the US or Canada). And US sellers such as Amazon.com will refuse to ship outside the US or Canada.

    Which means it would definitely be wrong of me to make any suggestions about where you can buy them in the UK unfortunately :-(

    The issue is around license restrictions rather than anything else.

    We all hope that Zune will be made available in the UK soon, it's a seriously cool piece of kit. No news on that front at the moment apart from what you might see if you do a bit of web searching.

  • My Zune has been nothing but dependable from the moment I turned it on

  • That's cool like to see some more stuff like that in our cars.

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