Griffin iTrip


Griffin Technology. This is a long term review of the iTrip. I've been using it pretty regularly in the car and on trips, etc. Here's an evaluation...
Basically, this is a super useful device. It transmits on FM so that you can listen to your iPod pretty much from any clock radio, car radio, etc. I've actually found that on crappy clock radios (you know the $20 from Costco), that it makes no difference if you use this transmitter which limits the frequency response to about 16KHz or audio input because the junkie speakers can reproduce good sound.
In terms of ease of use, the main issue is that there is just one LED that controls the thing. Unfortunately, the iPod isn't programmable (Apple!), so there isn't an iTrip application right on the iPod instead, you have to interpret a single blinking LED. For those of us who travel, this is a pain. For two reasons, retuning to a new station requires that you load up a PC or Mac program called the iTrip Station Finder, then you figure out stations are actually free. In Seattle for instance, 98.5 is pretty good. You want to get a station right in the middle of the band for technical reasons (although I personally don't hear any difference between the iTrip being tuned at 88MHz or 108MHz or smack in the middle at 98MHz).
So make sure that when you go on a trip you have the American (and European for that matter) tracks loaded. The way the thing works is that each track is a series of little beeps sort of like touchtone on your phone. When a track is played, the iTrip interprets this as change the channel.
Second issue is that on higher end cars, like the Lexus, Volvo and Acura, the iTrip doesn't work. This is because they are fancy and instead of putting an antenna inside the receiver inside the car, they put the antenna on the outside and then have a fancy metallic layer in the windshield that is used to lower the heat going in side according to the "FAQ": This includes BMWs, GM minivans, Audi A8s. On our old Volvo, the problem is that the antenna is in the rear and the power of the iTrip simply isn't very high.
The other issue is range, you really have to right next to the radio. Preferably on the top. The thing draws basically zero power and that is because the radio is very low power.
Final thing and tip, is that the way to change a channel is to:
# Navigate to the iTrip playlist and find the frequency you are looking for.
# Hit the Select button (bit one in the middle) and start to play.
# About 2 seconds into playing, the LED on the iTrip blinks like crazy. You have to PAUSE immediately
# Then if you did it right, there will three slow blinks and you have changed channels.
All in the all, the iTrip is very useful, but you just have to make sure to be aware of its limits. If you have a fancy car get someone's iTrip and try it first. It is super useful in hotels with clock radios where you want to hear more.