Griffin iTrip FM transmitter with iPhone app review

You've got days of music stored on your iPhone or iPod, the trouble is once you get in your car you're left with hunting around for a CD or even what's on the radio to remove the drone of the road.

In steps the iTrip, improved and enhanced from its first outings many years ago to offer a chance to stream music from your iPod or iPhone to your car stereo via the wonders of FM.

The size of disposable lighter, the iTrip plugs into your Apple device via the 30-pin dock connector and gets to work transmitting your music to a nearby radio that is tuned in on the same frequency.

The unit itself comes with four buttons, and a mono screen with which to access the rather rudimentary menu system. Pressing Menu a number of times scrolls through the menu options, while three buttons below the screen allow you to scan up and down the airwaves, select presets, or skip to the next track without having to turn your iPod player "on". On the whole the experience is a fiddly one.

Realising that iPod touch and iPhone users want something a little more graphical, Griffin has developed a free app that you can download via the App Store to control all the above with your finger rather the having to get dirty with the hardware. The app certainly makes things a lot easier.

Scanning the airwaves can be done in two ways, manually (normally the easiest) or via something Griffin call SmartScan, which as you might guess scans all available frequencies looking for the cleanest, unfettered, frequency available for you to set-up your mini pirate radio station on.

In the settings option there is a chance to have three preset stations, as well as whether or not to pump out your sound in mono or stereo. SmartSound is a Griffin Technology that enhances the sound and makes it louder. In reality that's what it does - make stuff louder.

In use and the performance of the iTrip, like previous models, will come down to where you live. If you live in a major metropolitan area you are likely to struggle to find a clear enough signal to push your transmission to. We certainly weren't able to run the system in stereo. That means your music will be constantly interrupted and you'll spend most of your drive retuning the iTrip to find a better frequency. Not great.

If however you live in the country or are planning on using this in a static environment around the home placing your iTrip in the right place does get good results. Placement is everything though - we found strangely next to the gearbox worked in one car and on the dash in another. 

As for charging, there is an option to connect a Micro-USB to the iTrip, which in turn will let you charge the iPhone or iPod, however it isn't included in the box.

Verdict

The Griffin iTrip is a difficult one to mark. The fact that our tests delivered mixed results isn't Griffin's fault, but merely a problem of the cluttered airwaves where we tested it, suggesting you could buy this and experience a far better experience than we have.

If you really must get your music off your iPhone or iPod on your car stereo then this is one way to do it, just don't expect it to be a perfect experience every time. 

Proceed with caution.