The ability to play my iTunes music on my home entertainment system was the main reason I purchased an Apple Airport Express base station. Much of my music is now located on my Macintosh and iPod, but that doesn’t mean I only want to listen to it on those devices every time. My home sound system has great speakers, so of course I want to play music on them. But the drawback to the Airport Express is that it only plays music from my iTunes music library. What if I wanted to send the audio from another application to my home audio system, or perhaps even a radio in the kitchen? No can do.
Enter the RocketFM, a tiny USB device that will do just that. Once you install the software, you go into your System Preferences panel and select RocketFM. You can then change the FM frequency so that any sound, ANY SOUND, from your Mac will play on the FM channel of your choice on any FM radio.
The software is simple to use as it lets you change frequency and select either Stereo or Mono. However, you must also go into your sound control panel and change the output to RocketFM. This makes it simple and easy to send your audio to the FM frequency or back to, say, your computer speakers.
Audio quality is as good as most FM stations. Range varies from ten to thirty feet, which should cover most of the area you may want to send your Mac’s audio to. Every house and setting will be different, of course, but I found I could easily pick up the RocketFM signal in my kitchen, but the signal did not quite make it through the walls of my house to reach outside. Connecting the RocketFM to my laptop, however, and taking it outside, I found that my car radio would actually pick up the signal from a longer distance than the thirty feet Griffin boasts. Perhaps the antenna on my car is just really good? I also found that if I connect the RocketFM to my laptop, and set both near the wall at the back of my house, it would push the signal through the wall.
By no means do I want to overlook the cool factor of the RocketFM. This is a small, cool, rocket shaped device. It is less than four and a half inches long, and in the center is a neon light that radiates a soft blue color when it is attached via the USB cable. Blue seems to be all the rage in electronic gear this year, and the blue from the RocketFM matches the blue from both the Radio Shark and the PowerMate, both also made by Griffin Technologies.
In the winter months here in Michigan, I enjoy spending time in the hot tub. I like to listen to music on the rear deck where the hot tub is located. Now that all my music is basically on my computer and iPod, how can my wife and I enjoy the tunes outside in the hot tub in the freezing January snowstorms? (That is the best time to be in a hot tub, by the way!) I don’t want to take my iPod outside, and I don’t have any outdoor speakers. This is where the RocketFM will really come in handy for me. I simply take the iPal speaker outside, and have my Mac play iTunes via RocketFM.
Want another scenario I used? I was working in the basement, but was also expecting an important email. Rather than running upstairs every five minutes, I just tuned the stereo downstairs to the RocketFM frequency so that I could hear my Mac beep every time a new email came in.
The RocketFM comes with a clear acrylic stand. Both the stand and the unit itself are very lightweight, and have a very small footprint. The white of the RocketFM matches Apple’s own iPod, iMac, and Mac mini white, so it will look good next to each.
The RocketFM is a cool, tiny device that will take up almost no room on your desktop, and one that you will find multiple reasons to use. The price is much cheaper than you would expect from such a handy, “why didn’t anyone else think of this sooner” hardware solution to get the sound out of your Mac and into any handy radio. A delightful cool looking devise!