Finding an aftermarket stereo that blends seamlessly with your car’s interior can be an impossible dream; it’s certainly not a task you’d want to endure just so you could plug in your iPod. For that, you should consider buying a third-party integration kit that allows you to retrofit your factory unit.
Ion Audio is a division of Numark, a company that manufactures a ton of gear targeted at the professional DJ market. The iTTUSB is one of four turntables it offers that features not only a built-in phono preamp but also a USB interface. This table can perform the analog-to-digital conversion on its own and send the digitized audio to your PC via the provided USB cable. We’d advise leaving that task to a good soundcard, but we welcome the flexibility. We also like most of the trade-offs that Ion made: Instead of spending money on an automatic tonearm and a dust cover, Ion splurged on an adjustable tonearm counterweight, a removable headshell that can accommodate a variety of cartridges, and an antiskate adjustment that will extend the life of your stylus.
Audio-Technica has a stellar reputation as a manufacturer of pro-audio gear, and it’s a major player in the Japanese consumer-electronics market. The company doesn’t have much of a presence in the U.S. consumer market, but the AT-LP2Da (a package consisting of the Audio-Technica AT-PL50 turntable and Cakewalk’s Pyro software) is widely available here.
We liked almost everything about SanDisk’s Sansa e260 flash-memory digital media player when we reviewed it in November 2006, but we slapped it with a verdict of 5 because we activated its voice recorder every time we picked the damned thing up. The Sansa e280R fixes that problem and adds two more gigs of memory for good measure.
You know a device has a great user interface when someone utterly unfamiliar with it accomplishes a task within 10 seconds of picking it up. Apple’s iPods pass this test with aplomb; Creative’s Zen Vision: M utterly fails it. It’s a significant flaw in an otherwise terrific media player.