Whole House FM Transmitter 2.0TAW Global - Portage. MI, USA
While there are no shortage of available Part 15 FM transmitters they do vary in price, performance and build quality.
TAW-Global is no stranger to producing low power FM transmitters. They filled the market with their original Whole House FM transmitter, a six channel FM transmitter that received its share of complements as well as complaints (including some from the FCC). Their latest entry into the marketplace, the Whole House FM Transmitter 2.0, is their second generation transmitter which includes some noteworthy features often not found on this type of device.
The Whole House FM Transmitter 2.0 is certified for use in both Canada and the United States. Unlike the original Whole House transmitter, this version is frequency agile and tunes the entire FM broadcast band.Opening The Box:
The Whole House FM Transmitter 2.0 comes shipped in full color retail packaging. Opening the package reveals a variety of cables that accompany the transmitter. The audio cables include a dual male RCA phono to 3-conductor 1/8" mini female jack, a single 1/8" 3-conductor male plug to dual 1/8" 3-conductor jacks and a male to male 1/8" 3-conductor cable.
In addition to the audio cables there's a coaxial-type power to USB "A" male connector. Along with this cable is an mini "wall-wart" power supply and cigarette plug adapter, both with USB "A" female connectors.
Also enclosed with the transmitter packaged in a separate plastic bag is a length of black insulated wire and a crimp connector along with a leaflet labeled "International Antenna Extension Kit Instructions" - more on that later.The Inside Story:
The test specimen was loaned to HobbyBroadcaster.net by a private party after the manufacturer declined providing an evaluation unit to us. With that in mind we decided not to disassemble the unit loaned to us for fear of damaging the plastic case. We were, however, able to view the publicly available pictures submitted to the Federal Communications Commission as part of the transmitter's certification process. It can be seen that this transmitter relies on a good deal of surface mounted electronic components for its circuitry.
The transmitter itself is 3 3/4" high x 2 5/8" wide and about an inch thick - similar in size to a pack of cigarettes. The front panel sports seven push buttons to control various functions including stereo / mono transmission, automatic gain control (AGC), accessing three transmitting presets as well as manual tuning.
The front panel liquid crystal display has indicators for transmitter frequency, selected preset, power from battery or an external source, stereo transmission mode, input source audio levels with peak indication, AGC and audio mute modes.
The top of the transmitter has a mechanical push-on/push-off power switch, an 1/8" stereo line input and a 1/16" microphone level input. There is also a 3 1/2 inch wire lead exiting the top of the unit for the antenna. The left side has an input level volume control while the right side has a coax-type power jack to accept the supplied power cable while. We were surprised that the transmitter's external power jack is labeled for a 9 volt power source as the battery compartment utilizes three "AA" 1.5 volt batteries. One obvious design deficiency results from the belt clip partially obscuring the battery compartment, making the chore of replacing batteries difficult.
We fired up this PLL-tuned transmitter in the evaluation lab to put it through its paces. While most of our site's target audience would likely power the transmitter from the supplied AC power adapter we decided to test it on all supported power sources since this is just one the of the many ways the manufacturer cites their transmitter can "Consistently Outperform And Even Humiliate Bigger & Older FM Transmitter Manufacturers," one of the many marketing claims on the company's web site.
The plastic "cling" applied to the front of the transmitter's display is quite deceiving as it would appear to imply that the display would be bright and readable. In our examination this was not the case. Holding the transmitter straight in front of you makes it impossible to see anything other than the blue backlight. Even a few seconds after the backlight automatically extinguishes, the display is still impossible to read clearly. The only way to read the display is to tilt the transmitter at least 45 degrees away from you. With no shortage of buttons on this transmitter would it have been that difficult to add a contrast control the alleviate this problem? And to answer the question, the display does not visually jump out at you the way the cling overlay might suggest.Next page