Zune Car Pack: Must-Have Zune Car Accessory

You own a car. You bought a Zune. What's next?

Why, the Zune car pack, of course! It would be a shame if you couldn't listen to tunes on your Zune while in your car.

[Yes, you with the short attention span! Scroll down for some cool pictures.]

Especially if, like most people, you spend a significant amount of time each day commuting to work by car.

Think of it. In that 45 minute round trip, you'll get through the latest CD of your favorite artist.

I can't think of a better way to make that commute more enjoyable. Except for maybe not having to commute at all.

Zune Car Pack v1
Zune Car Pack v1

Zune Car Pack v2
Zune Car Pack v2



The car pack is specially designed to bring your Zune music straight to your car. Fast. Easy. Hassle free.

And it actually lives up to these words. Much to my surprise.

There are two main components in the Zune car pack.

  • Zune FM transmitter

  • Zune car charger

Hold on, you say. I know all about FM transmitters! They suck!

Ok, just hear me out for a second.

I totally shared the same opinion until I tried out the Zune car pack.

I have not been so blown away by any other Zune accessory. I could not believe how easy it was to use. And how well it worked.

For years I steered clear of FM transmitters after reading review after review of the poor quality.

I even upgraded my car stereo to one that had an AUX port so I could just hook my numerous mp3 players directly to it without having to use an FM transmitter.

Boy, was I wrong! FM transmitters rock! At least the Zune FM transmitter works flawlessly.

And I live in a major metro area where it is not easy to find an unused FM frequency.

I feel so stupid now.

Anyways, don't make the same mistake I did. Definitely check out the Zune car pack. Worst case, if it doesn't work for you, you can return it.

I highly recommend it.

Ok, now that we've established that the Zune car pack is worth buying, which one should you choose?

Like most Zune accessories, you have a v1 and a newer v2 model. I bought both of them and put them to the test. So who is the winner?

The v2 model wins hands down in my opinion.

The v1 is also a fine option. In terms of music quality I really didn't notice much difference.

In the case of most Zune accessories, there is only a minor difference between the v1 and v2. Usually in terms of size. Not so here!

The design of the Zune car pack v2 is a major improvement over the v1 in my opinion. Well worth the extra dollars that it will cost.

Of course the ultimate choice is yours. I'll go ahead and describe both of them so you can make an informed decision for yourself.

Zune Car Pack v1

The v1 model consists of two separate accessories bundled together. The Zune FM transmitter and the Zune car charger.

Zune Car Pack v1 The two components of the Zune car pack v1: Zune car charger and Zune FM transmitter.

Zune Car Pack v1 - Car View Here you see the Zune car pack v1 in action in my car. Even though it occupies the passenger seat, it still doesn't qualify me to use the carpool lane.

Zune Car Charger v1 - Plugged In A closeup of the Zune car charger plugged in.

Zune FM Transmitter v1 - Plugged In A closeup of the Zune FM transmitter connected to my 8GB Zune. Notice how much bigger the transmitter is in comparison to the Zune.

The FM transmitter was designed when only the 30GB Zune was available. As a result it's a little big for my 8GB Zune.

To use the car pack v1 just follow these steps.

  1. Make sure your car radio is turned OFF.
  2. Plug in the Zune car charger into your car power outlet.
  3. Connect the Zune FM transmitter to the car charger.
  4. Now connect your Zune to the FM transmitter. Make sure your car is started. The FM transmitter should be powered on if it is.
  5. Press any one of the tuner buttons. The FM transmitter will automatically find an unused frequency.
  6. Turn on your radio and tune it to the frequency displayed on the FM transmitter.
  7. Finally, turn on your Zune and press play.
  8. You should hear crystal clear music coming out of your car speakers. Courtesy of your Zune.
  9. If you hear any static, try tuning the FM transmitter to a different frequency.

    Tip: This happened to me the first time I used it. Before I left home I used the auto-tune feature to select an unused frequency. It chose 88.5. I started playing my music and it came through loud and clear without any static.

    I started driving. After some time, as I got closer to work, 88.5 started picking up a radio station. I used the auto-tune feature again and it chose 88.9. When I tuned my radio to that frequency, my Zune music came through clear again, without any static.

    Since then I've used 88.9 without any problems. I just mention this since it might take a little experimentation up front to find the frequency that works best in your area.

That's all there is to it.

The next time around it's simpler. Just leave your charger and transmitter plugged in. When you're ready to drive, just connect your Zune and you're good to go.

You can also remove your charger and hide it. Just in case someone decides to break into your car to steal it. (I'm paranoid. Like I said, I live in a major metro area.) Then reconnect the charger when you are ready to go someplace. As long as you've left the transmitter and your radio tuned to the same frequency, it should just work for you without having to reset any frequencies.

Note: The volume control on your Zune will not affect the volume coming out of your speakers. This volume controls the output of the headphone jack only. To increase the volume, turn the volume knob on your stereo.

The charger can be used independently of the transmitter to charge your Zune in your car. It is actually available separately as an accessory.

The FM transmitter can be used independently of the charger too. In this case it will draw power from your Zune and will drain the battery faster.

In my testing I seemed to get better results when I used the charger together with the transmitter. I'm not exactly sure why.

The location of the FM transmitter matters. If it does not have unobstructed access to the radio, you'll get static.

I leave the Zune on the passenger seat while I'm driving. If I don't have the charger connected, then the Zune tends to slide around. This results in poor quality reception.

But if I leave it connected to the charger, it seems to stay put. And the reception quality is great.

You don't run into these problems with the Zune car pack v2. It has a much better design. I'll describe this below.

Learn more about the Car Pack v1.

Zune Car Pack v2

The second time you do something, it's usually better. You learn from the mistakes you made the fist time around.

This is certainly true of the v2 car pack.

It consists of the same major components - a car charger and an FM transmitter. With some significant enhancements.

Zune Car Pack v2 What's in the box: The Zune FM transmitter v2, Zune car charger v2 and Zune dashboard grip. Notice the cool pink connector tip that's standard with v2 accessories.

Zune Car Pack v2 - Car Charger A closeup of the car charger plugged in. It has cool Zune logo that lights up.

Zune Car Pack v2 - FM Transmitter The Zune FM transmitter v2: stuck to the back of the car charger through the magic of magnetism.

Zune Car Pack v2 - Dashboard Grip My 8GB Zune comfortably resting on the dashboard grip. No fear of falling!

As with other v2 accessories the components are smaller. They are also all connected together so you can't use the charger without the FM transmitter or vice versa. Of course, just turn your Zune off if you want to charge it but don't want to listen to music.

The FM transmitter sticks to the back of the charger magnetically. This makes sure that it stays in one place. In close proximity of the car radio which means excellent reception.

It also includes a dashboard grip pad. This is a really cool addition which keeps your Zune in one place. And not on the passenger seat. I can think of a better use of the passenger seat.

Everything feels all neat and tidy. Not all over the place like with the v1 car pack.

Note: You can pretty much follow the v1 operating instructions above for operating the v2 car pack as well. You just don't have to connect the different pieces together.

When I first connected the Zune car pack v2 with my Zune, it installed some additional firmware. I'm not exactly sure what it's for. But it immediately tuned to 104.7 FM. And it did sound slightly better than the v1 car pack.

And unlike the v1 car pack, the v2 car pack has two preset buttons. So you can save two different frequencies that work well in your area.

Important Tips

  • If you are not listening to or charging your Zune, make sure to disconnect the car charger from the power outlet. This is because the car charger will continue to drain power as long as it's plugged in.
  • Make sure the engine is running while you are listening to your Zune through the car pack. Otherwise you run the risk of draining your car battery.

Learn more about the Car Pack v2.

Conclusion

The Zune car pack is a must-have car accessory for your Zune. It's a great product and works exactly the way it's advertised. I highly recommend it.

Zune Car Charger Comparison A side-by-side comparison of the v1 and v2 car chargers. Can you guess which ones smaller? Hint: It's not the v1.

Zune FM Transmitter Comparison A look at the v1 and v2 FM transmitters. The v1 is on the left. No similarities here!

I also liked the Zune car pack v2 a lot better than the v1. Even though either of them will do the trick, consider spending the extra money and getting the v2. The extras make it well worth the money in my opinion.



Next Steps

Learn more about the Zune Car Pack v1.

Learn more about the Zune Car Pack v2.



Return to Must-Have Zune Accessories

Return to World Of Zune