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ATPM 13.10
October 2007



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Hardware Review

by Christopher Turner,



Developer: Digital Lifestyle Outfitters

Price: $60

Requirements: FM radio and any iPod with dock connector.

Trial: None

The TuneStik is DLO’s latest FM transmitter for the iPod. Unlike the TransDock and TransPod series of FM transmitters from DLO, the TuneStik is not also an iPod charger, and the TuneStik features a RF remote control. Being a happy owner of two TransPods, I was eager to give the TuneStik a tour of duty as the primary means of iPod broadcast in my vehicles.

The TuneStik is well deserving of its name; it’s tiny, conforming to the dimensions of the iPod. When plugged in, especially on an iPod of similar color—and the TuneStik is available in any color you can think of, so long as that color is black—one might be hard-pressed at first glance to notice that it is not part of the iPod itself. My father-in-law, whom I had picked up from the airport when he came for a visit, was fooled for a moment when he first examined the unit in operation in my Honda Pilot.


The TuneStik installed on my 60 GB iPod.

Since the TuneStik is not large enough to enable charging of the iPod through a vehicle’s power plug, as the TransDock and TransPod transmitters do, DLO included a dock connector pass-through, so you can plug in any dock-connector power cord to the TuneStik, and your iPod will receive power. This worked when I used it with a cord, though in a vehicular setup, it’s a bulky setup. I would warn you to not plug in your TuneStik-attached iPod to the standard iPod Dock. While the TuneStik makes the connection just fine, the overall height of the iPod with the TuneStik attached makes the unit unwieldy, putting too much rearward pressure on the Dock’s connector.

The RF remote is equally tiny, and color-coordinated with the TuneStik. It features buttons for play/pause, forward, back, volume up and down, as well as a button to turn on the iPod’s backlight. The final button is the Frequency button, used to tune the TuneStik to the FM frequency of your choice while plugged in to the iPod.


Left to right, the TuneStik’s cradle, remote, and TuneStik module.

The remote also features a cradle you can attach to your steering wheel through means of a Velcro strap. This makes it easy to control the iPod through the TuneStik while driving, and indeed, this was one area where the TuneStik setup worked as advertised. The remote cradle can be problematic, however, depending upon your personal driving habits and the layout of your vehicle’s steering wheel. For myself, the best place for cradle placement, from a usability standpoint, also happened to be the one spot on the steering wheel my left hand rests the most. I liked the ability to control the iPod with the remote without having to look away from the road, but I did not like having to revise my own driving habits to do so. You may feel differently.


When DLO released their first TransPod a little over two years ago, I was fairly smitten. One thing I appreciated with the original TransPod was that I could dial it down to the lowest FM frequency possible, 87.9. In the radio station-heavy metropolis of Dallas/Fort Worth, this was a boon. As a matter of fact, having travelled through a good portion of the southern United States, as well as northern Mexico, in the past two year and a half years, I cannot recall having a single interference issue with the TransPod set at 87.9.

Alas, the next generation TransPod we purchased for my wife’s minivan did not dial as low, going down only to 88.1, and we have intermittent interference issues with it. After much trial and error, we seem to have found a decent frequency for it, but we still get the occasional burst of static or random overpowering from some other transmitter.

The TuneStik suffers a similar fate, only more so. I had a devil of a time finding a suitable FM frequency for it to remain on while riding around town, much less while driving long distances. It has been very easy for the little TuneStik to be overpowered, and I wonder if its small size, and therefore lack of shielding, has something to do with it. I have been unable to remain static-free on multiple frequencies while running errands within a 12-mile radius. The TuneStik is nearly useless in a rain storm with any significant electricity in the air. We’ve seen more than normal rain this June and July in north Texas, and during one particular storm, which wasn’t that heavy, rain-wise, the TuneStik struggled, with static constantly mingling in during playback.


Setting the TuneStik’s FM frequency.

The TuneStik is supposed to have an effective range of 27 feet, so one would think it would not have any problems resting in the center console, a mere three to four feet from the vehicle’s radio. Even at that short range, the TuneStik, on a clear and sunny day, would have problems with intermittent static while driving around. To make matters worse, the TuneStik is very susceptible to interference from the one source you’d want it to be shielded: the human body. Any time I attempted to handle the iPod with the TuneStik attached, static increased over the speakers.

The TuneStik is advertised as a means of playing your iPod through your home stereo as well. It works just as it does in an automobile; tune your home stereo to the same frequency as the TuneStik, and play tunes from your iPod. I have an Aiwa shelf stereo in the study that my iMac is hooked up to; this is my primary means of playback from the iMac. Being in a completely stationary setting didn’t bode much better for the TuneStik. It took several minutes to get a clean signal to the Aiwa, even though the iPod/TuneStik was a mere 12 inches from the stereo’s antenna! Again, even in this stable environment, the TuneStik was susceptible to interference whenever I picked up the iPod to move it around.

Given the constant unpredictability of outside interference causing the TuneStik to stumble, I cannot recommend this unit for iPod playback through FM radio frequencies. This is disappointing, given my favorable past experiences with DLO products. I hope they can fix these interference issues in the next hardware iteration.

Reader Comments (18)

Frazier Dawson · November 15, 2007 - 17:33 EST #1
I have a MP3 jack (male adapter) in my BMW glove compartment. How do I hook up your tune stik and will the transmiter work through the glove box door??
Christopher Turner (ATPM Staff) · November 15, 2007 - 20:58 EST #2

If you have a MP3 adapter in the glove compartment, so far as I know, you shouldn't need the TuneStik. The male adapter should plug in to the iPod's female port, and you'll be good to go.
Brendan Dowling · November 25, 2007 - 15:07 EST #3
Have you tried to turn off the TuneStik's radio transmitter on your iPod? The instruction manual says that you can turn off the radio transmitter and just use it as a remote (Page 11). I recently bought an iPod Classic and when I follow the instructions to do this no option is available as stated in the manual to turn off the radio transmitter. I am curious to see if other people are having similar issues as I have contacted DLO and they haven't made any changes on their website about the problem.
Yvette · November 30, 2007 - 21:48 EST #4
Has anyone had problems getting Tunestik to work? When I plug mine into my ipod, not much is really happening - it does not say 'ok to disconnect' and display the radio frequency on my ipod display. Can anyone help? I have tried resetting the ipod and the tunestik.
Chrisi · December 26, 2007 - 01:52 EST #5
well, it shouldnt have to say ok to disconnect, mine doesn't display the radio frequency either though :/ but youplug it in then set the radio and tunestik then press play it should just play through the radio ;]
Ida · December 28, 2007 - 16:49 EST #6
is the tunestik compatible with the iphone?
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · December 28, 2007 - 19:47 EST #7
Ida - I should let Chris give a more authoritative answer. But, until he does, I'll say I'm nearly certain that does not, because I've tried numerous Dock connector devices that are designed to tap the line-level output from the bottom of an iPod, and none of them worked with the iPhone.
Haylie · December 29, 2007 - 19:50 EST #8
I just got a iPod nano(gen3) and a tunestik for christmas. It'll play music through the station, but the remote doesn't work. The red light comes on when i push a button, but it doesn't do anything on the ipod, so this means i can't change the frequency. Any suggestions?
Christopher Turner (ATPM Staff) · January 2, 2008 - 13:59 EST #9
Ida, the TuneStik is currently not compatible with the iPhone. DLO provides a compatibility chart on the web page for each of its products, so customers can check with just a glance to see if the product will work with their model iPod or iPhone.
Christopher Turner (ATPM Staff) · January 2, 2008 - 14:01 EST #10
Haylie, I did not encounter anything like this during my own testing, so I'm sorry I can't be of more help. I would suggest contacting DLO's support staff, if you haven't already.
tydal · February 7, 2008 - 20:22 EST #11
i had my tunestix device for 5 months and im encountering a problem getting a signal to my transmitter from my remote. i changed the battery and its still not operating. the transmitter works perfect with the ipod in the vehicle but i cant do any button pushing to get a response for the ipod. have anyone had that problem or know how to fix it
Christopher Turner (ATPM Staff) · February 13, 2008 - 14:06 EST #12
Tydal, your best bet is to contact DLO's technical support.
Chris Thoms · April 8, 2008 - 07:21 EST #13
Not knowing much more than Jack about Ipods, but wanting to play my shuffle thru my non-cassette car stereo, what other transmitters would you recommend beside the tunestik?
Christopher Turner (ATPM Staff) · May 18, 2008 - 22:44 EST #14
Chris, I've never had a need to play my own iPod shuffle through the car stereo, so I'm afraid I can't answer that question.
Joel Banuelos · February 28, 2009 - 17:26 EST #15
Would the Tunestik still work if you were to loose the remote?????
Christopher Turner (ATPM Staff) · March 4, 2009 - 11:59 EST #16
Joel, I have no reason to believe it would not work without the remote, since the tuning to a particular frequency is done on the iPod and can be done without the remote. You may want to contact DLO's customer support to find out for sure.
Gabe Moore · August 23, 2009 - 18:44 EST #17
i jsut baught a tunestik and when it connects to my ipod touch 1st gen it says its connected, but it doesn't show which station, how do i know which station it works on?
Christopher Turner (ATPM Staff) · August 23, 2009 - 21:20 EST #18
Gabe, I've never used an iPod touch, so I'm afraid I can't help. Here is a link (PDF) to the TuneStik manual, which will likely answer your question:

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