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iTrip Report

I was in the Apple Store today and just needed some retail therapy. I’ve been on a hardware kick for the past three months acquiring a 30GB iPod, a massive flat panel for home, and, now, and 15″ Powerbook. It’s been quite a run.

Problem is, now when I walk into the store, my cash spending reflexes kick in and I can’t get out of the store until I plunk some cash money at the register.

Today’s exit strategy was Griffin Technologies iTrip. I’d been in a holding pattern on this purchase as the iTrip did not yet support the new iPods, but today was my lucky day. The iTrip was front and center in a sea of moderately interesting iPod accessories.

No one — ever — never ever — has given me a good recommendation for the iTrip. “Bad sound quality” “Cool design, couldn’t find a radio station” I’m certain there are reams of weblog entries regarding the mediocre-ness of the iTrip.

Everyone is right. After roughly an hour of usage, I don’t see a good fit for the iTrip in my day to day. Weak. iTrip is a great concept. Radio broadcaster for your iPod. This is, in concept, great for me as I’m the process of putting every_song_ever on my iPod and my car has a CD player which limits my input options and, well, I listen to music in my car.

The iTrip fits snugly on top of the iPod, complimenting it’s design. Usage of the broadcaster does prevent the usage of the remote which tickles a wear’n’tear neuron in the back of my head, but I can live with that. The broadcaster comes with a install CD which cleverly adds a playlist to iTunes which contains songs that, when played, adjusts the broadcast frequency on the iTrip. Slick. Groovy. Geeky. What’s the catch?

The catch is: it’s radio. The iPod experience is decidedly a solo adventure. It’s you and your music. Everything else is just crap which gets in the way of you listening to your music. Once I’d found a radio station devoid of signal, set-up my iTrip, and listened to my first song (AC/DC: Who Made Who?)… it was painfully radio. Little bit of static… little bit of buzz. I was no longer getting the iPod experience of me and my music… it was me, my music, my car stereo, my iPod, and that slight buzz that just gets louder the more I turn up the volume.

Granted, I’ve only goofed around for an hour with the iTrip and, yes, I do live in the Bay Area which just doesn’t have much empty radio bandwidth, but my iTrip is not looking promising.

10 Responses

  1. Eli Sarver 13 years ago

    Are you certain your CD player doesn’t have an additional AUX in for something like an in-trunk/under-seat CD changer? If it does, then it is likely you’d be able to still go with a line-in conversion block.

  2. I read a few glowing reviews of the iTrip and purchased one as soon as they arrived at the Apple store over at Vally Fair.

    I got it to work with every radio I and my friends had, EXCEPT the radio in my car. Which is what I kinda bought it for.

    Back it went. My cassette adapter is ten times better.

  3. brady 13 years ago

    When I recently purchased a new car stereo (the old one was stolen), I specifically sought out one that featured a front panel mini-jack, so I could plug the little bugger right in the front of the radio. Granted, this might not be a practical “right now” solution, but if you’re in the market for a new radio, definitely a way a go.

  4. I tried the Belkin one. It sucked ass. Too bad to hear the iTrip isn’t any better but I’m not surprised. They need to run more signal to be any use.

    For most car stereos, you can get an adapter that converts the CD changer input into a pair of RCA inputs. Run an RCA->1/8″ cable out to the front of the dash and you’re golden. That’s what I did, and I’ve recently taken to leaving the dock in the car, plugged in. The dock happens to fit really well in a VW cup holder, so you can always see the iPod display, and fiddle without holding it.

  5. Floid 13 years ago

    One of the britsites – TheRegister or TheInquirer, forget which – was mentioning a slew of Bluetooth dongles that just might do the same thing better.

    That said, I have no clue how you push 16 bits * 44KHz over Bluetooth; I suspect further tradeoffs are invovled.

    And then you still need the ‘audio in’ hack on the car deck, or the tapedongle equivalent, and an appropriate receiver attached/embedded into either. In Euroland, they’re starting to think about putting Bluetooth into the head units themselves, which would solve that, add hands-free cellphone convenience, etc. I bet it’ll take the US only a decade to wise up, at which point 802.11’s successor will have supplanted everything anyway.

    As someone who’s had to remove a cubic foot of mouse droppings from the dash of a Subaru, stereo poking-around-behind is not something I’m a fan of. (Helpfully, my cousin’s BMW blew a fuse that JUST HAPPENS TO BE LOCATED ON THE BACK OF THE RADIO and renders the CD changer inoperable. But he’s in jail now, so I guess he won’t miss it.)

    But at least it shouldn’t hiss.

    (Also, ferchrissakes, I had a $40 Discman with the little short-range FM thing in it in 1999, and you could get the same thing in 9v-powered dongle form for at least a decade prior in any music store. Why does everything become magic when Apple’s involved? I mean, really, I’m exceptionally pissed off about this lately, because I’m trying to convince other_cousin’s parents that yes, blowing $70-$150 on Panther *is* the only hope to make his iBook stop wiping its hard drive for him* every Nth time it comes out of sleep, and technically, they’ve already saved $100 by not blowing it on Jaguar, and yes, I agree it sucks, and no, that XP you had me blow on your crippled K6-2 after you installed Gator and Kazaa and Bonzi on the original ’98 install isn’t particularly better or worse either…)

    *No, it doesn’t actually wipe the hard drive, it corrupts the Finder in a way that requires about as much effort to fix as dealing with a corrupted/deleted Windows Registry, okay? Except for some reason, even reinstalling 10.1 isn’t enough in itself; in lieu of specific knowledge, it takes a full reformatting to clear out the affected files. Yes I whine about this; I whine because his college mandates Apple trendiness, when for fuck’s sake even a Brother GeoBook would’ve proved more useful and reliable. (Meanwhile, the school’s main use for these Apples? Word. IT’S LIKE ONE GIANT WANKFEST OF OHMGGDFLFGHLBLBLGHLBGHL PLEASE SIR MAY I HAVE ANOTHER)

  6. Floid 13 years ago

    Actually, ignore that ‘even,’ because it doesn’t even belong there. GeoBook, Newton/eMate (see, I don’t hate *everything* Apple), anything that actually *works* without an orgy of maintenance.

    And the side effect of of all this? His parents sent him to “learn IE on Windows 2000” class, because it’s obviously his fault.

  7. Back in Illinois, when I didn’t have an in-dash cd player, I used something exactly like this to broadcast the sound from my discman to my car radio. It worked all right, but it eventually broke. Then I moved here, and eventually bought a cd/mp3 player and went out to buy another one of these doohickeys. I couldn’t find one anywhere. I started asking around, and some Radio Shack or Fry’s guy informed me that they were not sold in the Bay Area due to the fact that they don’t work here. As you mention, too many FM stations to compete with.

  8. I guess it may be a different story in a big city where the station towers are very close and signals are very strong. I am in VT and have tried the iTrip on strong competing stations purposfully and the iTrip takes over nicely when within 5 feet of the receiver. On a weaker station, I have successfully transmitted to the receiver from the floor below in my Condo. I suspect that my neighbors could pick up my iPod if they knew where to tune. Don’t blame the iTrip for being a bad device. Just realize it is not right for everyone.

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