Ask LH: What’s A Good MP3 Player For My Car?

Ask LH: What’s A Good MP3 Player For My Car?

Hi Lifehacker, I am after an MP3 player that will be used mostly to play music and podcasts in the car. What would be the best sort of MP3 player for this sort of task, both in value and features? Thanks, Disco Driver

Dear DD,

Your best bet is a cable-free solution that can stream digital music through your car stereo. To achieve this, you’ll need an MP3 player with inbuilt Bluetooth. If your car is getting a bit long in the tooth you may also need an FM transmitter. These days, almost every MP3 player on the market comes with Bluetooth, while a decent FM transmitter can be snapped up for around $10.

If your digital music library is tied to a specific service, going with a compatible device will save you a lot of hassle. For iTunes, the iPod Nano remains a great in-car solution. It’s an extremely compact device yet the touchscreen is large enough for easy one-finger operation. You can also hack it directly into your car’s dashboard — click here to see how it’s done.

Some other MP3 players that are worthy of consideration include the SanDisk Sansa Clip+ (which comes with 8GB capacity and FM radio), the iRiver T9 (up to 24 hours battery life and inbuilt recording functionality) and the Creative Zen Touch 2 (which boasts GPS functionality).

If you own a smartphone with inbuilt Bluetooth you could forgo the MP3 player entirely and use that instead. The benefits of this solution are numerous: it has a bigger screen, a familiar user interface and you won’t have to fork out for a second gadget. The only downside is battery life, but this can easily be remedied via an in-car phone charger.

We’d also like to hear what readers think. Have you come across an MP3 player or streaming solution that’s perfect for car travel? Let DD know in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • I use an old Samsung Galaxy S with a Fm transmitter/power supply (my older Mazda 3 doesn’t have Bluetooth). Had to run the cables discretely around the dashboard but the end result is great. It has a large display and can play tonnes of music and audiobooks clearly. Plus I have a data plan that allows me to share my mobile data between 2 sim cards and I can use this as a dedicated GPS via Waze. I used some adhesive velcro dots to secure to the dash.

  • iPod Classic with Physical Cable coming from Back of headunit wrapped round to my center console. You can change songs with the headunit while the ipod is in the centre console,

    • because the classic has physical buttons I can use it easily while driving and not having to look also

  • Just get a new head unit. Even in Australia they are something like $80 for a basic one, $150 for one that does everything (Except video). Unless you have a newish car, even the $80 head unit will be approximately a million times better than your factory one.

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