Griffin Technology iTrip

Review

posted 1/16/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
Platforms: PC
There’s this term that the kids have been tossed around these days and the term is “pimp.” It’s no big secret that the Apple iPod is the epitome of pimpdom, I mean chicks are attracted to this sleek little device like Spanish Fly. Hell, even Bart could get laid (if he could hold a steady job) if he picked one of these badboys up. It’s also no big secret that chicks dig accessories too. Accessories generally enhance the look of a device but it’s also a big bonus when one of them happens to add a whole new level of functionality as well. Griffin Technology’s iTrip manages to do both; maintaining the sleek design of the Apple iPod while adding the ability to siphon the sound from your iPod to any FM radio.

So let’s say you’re going on a long trip and you’re too lazy to burn all of the songs you pirated- err legally purchased from the iTunes store. You happen to have one of these iPods but the thought of driving six hours on Interstate 5 with earphones on doesn’t sound too comfortable to you (not to mention that it's also illegal). This is when you need to run out and pick up the iTrip because it allows you to do something quite amazing, it allows you to transmit the audio from your iPod onto an FM station of your liking. Sure, others have done similar things in the past via the use of those lame tapedeck solutions but this is the real deal here. It fastens onto the top of your iPod and secures itself into the available headphone jacks. Hell, the device is even composed of the same material as the iPod so it actually looks like a natural extension as opposed to some ugly behemoth. It’s relatively easy to install and remove so you won’t have to worry about damaging your iPod each time you want to remove it. As a nice touch the construct features a small LED light to show you the status of the device. Surprisingly the unit drains only a small portion of the iPod’s batteries so you won’t have to worry too much about power consumption.

Setting up the iTrip isn’t too difficult but it all depends on your interpretation of the documentation. Don’t be stupid and assume that the device just works off the bat, that’s how you end up breaking things, like automobiles and marriages. Read the enclosed manual and you’ll discover that the included software adds a number of frequencies onto your iPod via the iTunes interface. After you sync up your iPod to your PC or Mac you’re ready to hit the road with the puppy. Getting it to work will take a little practice and a little bit of patience. In order for it to operate properly you’ll have to find a patch of dead air that has a pretty significant buffer zone. The way radio stations work is that a tower broadcasts a frequency but a number of surrounding frequencies may pick up a bit of interference. So when you’re driving around and you want to listen to KIIS 102.7 and you have it set to 102.5 on accident you’ll still pick up a bit of the current. iTrip works in the same fashion in that any bit of surrounding interference will disrupt the signal and cause it not to work.

This is where things get a bit tricky. The device works fine if you’re in some backwoods town like Ashland, Ore but let’s say you’re stuck in the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. iTrip only operates if it is set to completely dead air with no surrounding frequencies. In a large city like LA or San Francisco it’s pretty difficult to find a frequency that properly satisfies this requirement. Most of the time you’ll run into interference from other stations, like those damn Mexican stations that seem to come in crystal clear no matter which part of the country you’re in. Travelling with the device also poses a few problems that result from the frequency changes that you’ll encounter. For instance, 92.3 may be dead air if you’re driving out in Castaic Lake but as soon as you enter Los Angeles the frequency is owned by a Hip-Hop station. This means that you’ll have to search for another bit of dead air in order to keep the iTrip working. You’ll also be driving at the time too so it poses a potentially dangerous situation for anyone who is absent-minded enough to try to search for frequencies while in the midst of the 405 freeway.

Another problem with the device is that it can’t be used with a number of the more popular cases on the market. It operates fine if you have a case that flips open on the top such as the Speck Hardcase but forget about using the iTrip with the highly popular Contour Showcase. Depending on the strength of your antenna you’ll have to position the device fairly close to your point of transmission. In a car like a Honda Civic it’s a bit difficult to find a stable location that can hold the iPod safely while maintaining a strong signal. I hope that Griffin Technology or another manufacturer produces a iPod car holder that helps remedy this problem. A cellular phone-like solution would be work wonders.

Other than these minute problems the iTrip works like a beauty and is a worthy purchase for any iPod owner, especially those who have to endure long commutes. If you’re traveling across the country or if you’re just one of those poor saps who brave the 405 during rush hour, don’t hesitate to pick this product up, it just might save your sanity.



B+
A great solution for iPod owners who don't want to bring CDs on long trips. Great for long commutes and a worthy purchase for all iPod owners.


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