Griffin iTrip

The distributor’s homepage calls the iTrip ‘the coolest iPod accessory in the world’.

And for a time (as one of the early entrants into the marathon of products riding the iPod’s coat-tails to riches), this nifty little radio transmitter was.

But a couple of years have passed, and too many developers around the world are coming out with new and better ways to extend Apple’s best selling mp3 player. There are now plenty of systems around to connect your iPod straight into your car radio instead of having to transmit across the air at all.

And honestly, if controlling your iPod right through the steering wheel of your 3 Series, X3 and X5 SAV or Z4 Roadster BMW isn’t the coolest iPod accessory in the world, then the world truly is run by Bill Gates.

But at around a hundred dollars, the iTrip is the auto accessory of choice for most iPod users. Quite simply designed to broadcast your iPod through a stereo instead of headphones, it’s completely superseded the old methods of automotive stereo music; hunting around on the floor for the tape you want or trying to get the CD back in the cover one handed when you want to change it.

The iTrip transmits to 87.9 straight out of the box, although you can select from over a hundred other frequencies if there’s already a station at that spot on your band.

It’s a small cylindrical unit the same width as your iPod (about two and a half inches long) that plugs into your headphones jack, and that’s all there is to it. As soon as you start playing music, the iTrip activates. If it doesn’t get an audio signal for 60 seconds, it shuts down.

It’s powered from the iPod itself, and manufacturer Griffin claims that during lab testing of the product, the power demand exerted on the host iPod was ‘imperceptible’.

They also claim the operating range is 10-30 feet, and if they tested it on Steve Jobs’ fleet of Porsches and Ferraris, that might have been the case — in the real world, your experience is likely to be very different.

In an average car older than five or seven years, you’ll notice the sound change as soon as you move the iTrip away from the front of your car. If you have a receptacle in your front console where your iPod won’t crash from one side to the other as you turn corners, you’ll get the best result.

Transmitting across the room to your home stereo is a different story. With a clear line of sight to the stereo you’ll get as good a sound as you get from any other station — sitting the iPod on top of or right in front of the unit will completely eliminate static or interference.

In either case (car and indoor), don’t expect to get better sound through your speakers than your radio usually delivers. But even if you don’t have a six or eight speaker car audio set-up, it’ll be novelty enough to listen to your 1,000 songs without having to change the tape or CD once.

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