*Disclosure: I was contacted by a rep for Mpow and provided a free sample for the purposes of giving my thoughts on it.*
(Please be sure to read update from 7/20/2014 below)
Not my the first FM transmitter, nor the first with Bluetooth connectivity. The Mpow Streambot is one of many in this category of products, including the nearly identical Excelvan F33
For my review, I'll be mostly comparing it against the Satechi Soundfly View
. Admittedly, the Satechi is more expensive, but I'll be sticking to the shared features between the two.
One thing is for sure, the Streambot is very easy to use. The controls are straight forward, as is the method for pairing it up with your devices. Perhaps I've missed this in other similar devices, but the Streambot and its twin are the only two I've seen where anti-theft is taken into account. With other FM transmitters, you pretty much have to take the whole thing out of the 12V socket and stash it somewhere out of sight. If you have a charging cable attached to it, that has to be handled too. My Satechi is guilty of this too, doubly so as it also has the option for AUX out and in. On the Streambot however, the whole upper control cylinder pops off, leaving the rest in place. About the size of a lipstick, the cylinder is easy to put into your pocket or hide elsewhere. Out of sight, out of mind.
The materials and build quality of the Streambot are respectable. Nothing fabulous, but not something to raise an eyebrow of concern over. The LED in these is a bit too dim to see in full daylight, and while the arm does articulate, it has its limitations. The charging power is nice and snug, as is the connection for your vehicle's 12V port.
In operation, the Mpow was pretty mediocre. My usage time was one month, to ensure I had a feel for the product. Compared to the Satechi, the Mpow's FM transmitter is quite a bit weaker. Where the Satechi could pump tunes on almost every frequency, used or not, the Streambot had difficulty with weak and some dead frequencies. This wasn't a huge surprise, as most every other FM transmitter I've used/reviewed loses to the Satechi. Alas, the last one I had was stolen, so I can't compare directly. Adding the pain, the output from the Streambot to my car's radio is substantially lower than that of the Satechi, my car's AUX port, and my best recollection of other models. For my testing, I ensured the Mpow and phone were both one step down from max volume. Using a decibel meter and a sound sample, I was able to compared the volume at different radio volumes and frequencies. The results for FM only showed that the Mpow trailed the Satechi by 17-30db, depending on the frequency. The results from my car's AUX jack showed a 25-30db difference. That was good to know, as I thought I was going deaf at first. Making calls was no problem other than not being able to get the volume up as high as I would have liked. Also, while driving around, the Mpow died on my three times, for no apparent reason. Getting it working again was a matter of pulling the base from the 12V socket and putting it back in.
At the end of the day, my thought it that the Mpow Streambot isn't a horrible device, but it's quieter than I would like and at least tad sketchy.
Update 7/20/2014: As you may have noticed, Mpow contacted me concerning the issues I had with the test unit they had sent out. A second unit was sent out at my suggestion, to determine if the original was defective in some way. Another week of daily use testing commenced. The end results are as follows. The transmission strength remained the same, but the sound level improved drastically. Also, over the time period, the unit did not die off like the original. Doing some mix and match play, I was able to work out that the control module of the original unit was the cause of both issues. I've updated my rating from 3 stars to 4, due to the operation of a good unit. I chose not to go with 5 as it would appear, based on my experience as well as that of some of other reviewers, that there are some quality/testing problems at the factory which allowed defective/partially defective units to be shipped to customers.