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Using your MP3 player in the Car and Home
The big attraction of MP3 players is their portability, but there are times when you might want to connect them to your home or car stereo system. This is a relatively easy task provided you have the correct inputs and outputs.
Be aware that not all MP3 players have extra output connections beyond the headphone jack. The Apple iPod, for example, needs a special dock which has the connections required for hooking up to a home stereo system. Granted, this dock also has connections for video, remote control and will recharge the battery while it is being used, but it is an extra expense beyond the iPod itself.
Many MP3 players are equipped with an auxiliary output which can connect directly to a home stereo system. The output is usually an 1/8" stereo minijack, so you need a cable which has a minijack on one end and two RCA jacks on the other end. RCA jacks are the most common type of input jack on stereo equipment.
When you are using your MP3 player at home, you should use the AC adapter for power rather than the batteries. This will keep the battery fully charged and the MP3 player will be ready to go when you hit the road.
Connecting an MP3 player directly to a home stereo system is the simplest solution, but it is not the only one. Other possibilities include attaching the MP3 player to a network device which will broadcast the audio to every computer on the network. If your audio equipment is also part of your home network, this type of device is very convenient.
Another solution is to use an FM broadcast device which will convert the audio output of an MP3 player to an FM frequency band. To hear the audio, simply tune your FM radio to the correct frequency.
FM broadcast is one of the solutions for car audio as well. Car audio systems usually don't have input jacks, although some of the newer models may have this feature. Input jacks are the simplest - simply connect the MP3 player to the head unit of the car stereo.
Alternatively, you can use a cassette adapter or the above-mentioned FM transmitter to listen to your MP3 player in the car. These devices connect to the output of the MP3 player so that you can either tune in the signal on your FM radio or listen to it through the cassette deck.
Some MP3 players have integrated video which allows you to watch movies or other video content on the go. The problem is, the screens on these portable devices are tiny so you can miss a lot of detail. It is much better to connect the device to your TV set - an alternative to the old VCR.
Getting the video to your TV set may be impossible, however, without using a special adapter. These are usually available as an accessory, but it is an extra expense which has to be taken into account. The docking station for the Apple iPod, for example, has connections for video as well as audio, allowing you to connect it to your home theater system for watching videos or viewing photos.
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