The iDrive is a little device from UK firm Hebe Styling that solves a problem faced by most iPod owners that also own a car. It lets you play your iPod (All versions including Photo iPod) while on the move. If you spend lots of time in your car, this device will be a welcome alternative to the illegal, and frankly poor-quality FM transmitters available. The iDrive is legal because it transmits through a wire instead of through the airwaves.
The installation is included in the price, which is currently £195 for a fully fitted device from Hyde Park Audio, nationwide fitters of car audio equipment. The fitting was professionally carried out with the minimum of fuss and took about an hour. You could do it yourself, but I would only attempt it if I knew what I was doing (which I don’t).
The iDrive is reasonably priced compared to other types of devices that work only with certain makes and models of car audio equipment and as this device works with any car so long as it has a radio. It does lack the head-unit controls of some competitors, but these controls are easily accessed from the iPod itself.
Once the device is fitted, you have access to your tunes on the move by tuning your radio to a particular channel. There’s no chance of interference because the signal goes directly into the aerial lead. The bracket is made from black plastic that blends into your dash, making it unobtrusive and a more attractive option than other dodgy FM transmitters.
The iDrive Colour will be shipping soon. This modified version has soft neon glows of white, blue, red, green and amber gently pulsating in the cradle giving a feeling of tranquility, depending on the type of music being played. Obviously this will appeal to the MaxPower brigade, but I don’t mind a little colour in my interior.
The quality of the music will never be CD quality, but is perfectly acceptable and will allow you to listen to your favourite tunes on the move.
The iDrive is a simple, well-executed idea. The fact that it is a legal alternative to FM transmitters is a good thing, but the fact that it is universally compatible, with both iPods and car radios is even better. It could be great if it was cheaper (it’s more expensive than an iPod mini), but there are few alternatives – especially if you don’t have a modern or name-brand car stereo.