Adding accessory power outlets to your car, putting LP songs on an iPod

Week of October 22, 2006

Q: I have an iPod and I wanted to listen to it in my car while traveling.   I purchased an FM transmitter which slips over the docking connection and adds very little size or weight to the iPod. I like it very much except for one aspect. In order to keep it thin and light, it uses the iPpod for battery power. With a full charge, I am lucky to get two hour of play time before draining the I-pod battery. The transmitter has a small connection in the bottom that looks like a mini USB connection. I also own a Motorola RAZR cell phone. It connects to my computer and car charger via a mini USB connector. My question is: Can I use my Motorola car charger to power my iPod through the connection on the transmitter? I certainly do not want to burn up any of my favorite toys!

-Les Mock, Wichita, KS

A: I do not have a RAZR so I can’t check out the connections, but USB is an open standard so it would probably work. There is a better way, though, and you have already touched upon the solution already. You can buy an adapter that goes into a car cigarette lighter socket and provides a USB port for charging. You can use it to charge a PDA, an iPod, anything that uses USB charging. These power adapters can be purchased for under $10. You can see and buy them at www.extremepda.com.

You can get a dual splitter to turn one lighter socket into two- one for your RAZR and one for your iPod. Dual splitters run between $10 and $25.

With your new splitter and a USB adapter, and you can charge your phone while charging and listening to your iPod. Just be sure to keep your hands wheel and your eyes on the road, too!

Q: I have a turntable for 33 records and a pre-amp, connected to an amplifier/speakers. Is it possible to download (or whatever) vinyl records to my new iPod directly? or must there be an intermediate step to convert to digital (via my computer?) before transmitting to the iPod?

-Peter Gillette, Minneapolis, MN

A: Records are analog and iPods are digital, so you will be doing some conversion somewhere. You need to connect your pre-amp output to your computer, record the audio, and convert it to MP3, AAC or another format the iPod recognizes. A good one is the iMic from Griffin Technology, www.griffintechnology.com. It comes with Final Vinyl, a free recording application for Mac users.

For the best sound quality from your LPs, use the Apple Lossless Compression setting in iTunes.

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