Belkin Auto Kit (Review)

This was MINI Dee's first Christmas, and she made out pretty well. Not only is she fully protected with a new OEM Alarm, but her interior was cleaned up with the Belkin Auto Kit for the iPod. My girlfriend chose a great gift. Thank you, Katie.
Previous Setup:
I had previously installed the AUX input and used that to get sound from my iPod to the factory head unit. The problem was that my iPod's battery would die in about a half hour. Using a Belkin Mobile Power Cord to charge the iPod while connected to the AUX input would cause the AUX to temporarily stop working. It had something to do with isolating the ground loop, which required a ground loop isolator, but that seemed too messy of a solution. In addition to that, the entire set up was rather cluttered with an audio wire for the AUX input connected to one end of the iPod and a car charger connected to the other. What I needed was a simpler solution that took advantage of the AUX input and cleaned up the wires that were visible.

New Setup:
The install was rather easy: just plug it in and it's good to go. What was unique about this setup was that it had an integrated amplified audio jack output with adjustable volume, perfect for the AUX input jack. Now all I have to do is connect the iPod with the dock connection from the Belkin Auto Kit, and it draws the line level out audio signal from the iPod while it charges.

Other Added Benefits:
Every so often, I would forget I had the iPod in the car and accidentally leave it playing. When I would come back, I would find the Ipod's battery fully drained. With this new set up, that is a thing of the past. Now, when I turn the car off, it automatically pauses the Ipod and conserves the battery. What a great little feature!

Also, with my previous set up, the volume level of the Ipod was rather weak compared with the radio and CD volume levels. There was a possibility that you could blow out a speaker if you had the volume too high and then switched to the radio without turning the volume down. Not so with this new set up. Now the levels are comparatively matched, thanks to the integrated amplified audio jack output with adjustable volume. Another great little feature.

One last feature is the actual dock connector at the end of the charger. The fact that it is not symmetrical makes it very easy to connect the Ipod in the dark. Belkin seems to be good with things like this because the Belkin Mobile Power Cord also has a raised label indicating which side is up.

Some Drawbacks:
Overall, I am extremely happy with this new setup. It is much better than what I had, and the audio quality is very clear. There is a faint hum when listening at very high volumes, but it is hardly noticeable. Also, the overall price including the AUX input, might be a bit high. The Auto Kit is $40 and the AUX input is about $40. Some might be inclined to spend a little more for the OEM Ipod Adapter or the Ice Link Plus.

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