First Looks Special: Griffin iFM Radio, Remote, and Recorder
It’s here, and it performs as promised: after delays, cancellation, and then a complete restart of the project from the ground up, Griffin’s iFM radio tuner ($49.99 MSRP, approx. $30 street price) is finally ready to go. And other than one caveat, it’s highly impressive. Our full review will follow later, but here’s a First Look with pictures.
The biggest feature of iFM is its integrated digital radio tuner, which jumps in .2 increments from 87.9 to 107.9FM. Tuning is quick and easy with the unit’s forward and backward switch, located on its bottom right corner. More importantly, it sounds great. Griffin has been promising for months that iFM would rival the best portable FM radio tuners, and in our testing, it actually does. It’s on the same general level as the best of the tuners we’ve tried, which we’ll expand upon further in our full review.
iFM’s light blue/green backlit screen is easy to see, and indicates its mode - FM / REMOTE / REC on the top. REC? Yes, iFM records FM radio to the iPod with a single button press, and stops recording with a single button press. The little button to the northeast of the large play button activates recording, lighting up red when it’s happening. The iPod’s screen - normally turned off while iFM is connected - turns on when recording begins, and stays on until it’s over. Your Voice Memos list then contains a time/date stamped recording, which sounds just about as good as the iPod can muster with its low sampling rate.
And yes, you can also use iFM as a remote control - a better one, in fact, than the one Apple has been selling in a package with extra headphones for $39 since the launch of the third-generation iPod back in 2003. While the LCD screen is mostly useless in remote mode, the iFM’s tuning button (the same as its radio tuning button) and volume control button (on the top of its right side) work well, and the play/pause button is easy to find and use.
But the big surprise is that you can use iFM as a voice recorder, too. A mic on its top left corner mimics part of the functionality of the company’s earlier iTalk accessory, controllable now via a single press of the record button at any time. The iPod drops what it’s doing and begins recording, then shuts off with a second button press. It’s pretty impressive.
There’s a three-position switch on the left side of iFM to toggle between OFF, FM and REMOTE positions. Since it runs off of the iPod’s battery, you’ll want to turn it off when you’re not using it. The iFM otherwise stays on when the iPod’s turned off, even in remote mode.
A plastic belt clip on the rear is small and not especially resilient feeling, but not awful, either. We wish the screw at the top was a Philips head, so people could easily remove the clip.
Our final comment, and only slight issue with iFM - the dangling cord form factor is not our favorite way of mounting any iPod accessory. iFM’s functionality as a remote justifies it in this case, but the same design in a top-mounting iPod accessory would have been even better. That aside, the look, feel, and interface of iFM are substantially better than BTI’s TuneStir (iLounge rating: B-), which we previously reviewed. We’ll have more to say on the units - and a complete comparison - very soon.
- Apple Computer iTV / Apple TV First Look
- First Looks: PocketParty V2, Aural Earbuds, Cases for Apple Remote, nano, 5G
- First Looks: Kensington Dock 500/Radio Duo, Icuiti DV920, Belkin TuneBase FM & More
- First Looks Special: Motorola SLVR L7 iTunes Phone (photos inside)
- First Looks: Altec iM3c, SmartShare, OtterBox 5G, Commuter & Mork Mount
- First Looks: Applesauce, Blinkit, EyeTV 2, iM11, iRhythms & More
- Apple to sell limited-edition Olympic Apple Watch bands exclusively in Brazil
- Report: iPhone 7 will include Lightning adapter instead of Lightning EarPods
- Edward Snowden designing device to prevent iPhone wiretapping
- Report: Apple Car team running into challenges, launch may slip to 2021
- Corning announces Gorilla Glass 5
- Apple under fire for providing refurbished replacements under AppleCare+
- Report: Apple acquires cloud music provider Omnifone? [Update: No]
- Apple releases second iOS 10 public beta
- India clears the way for Apple to open retail stores
- Apple Pay launches in Hong Kong
- Netatmo Tags for Welcome Smart Home Camera
- iDevices Socket HomeKit-enabled Light Adapter
- Koogeek Wi-Fi SmartPlug for Apple HomeKit
- Marbotic Smart Letters for iPad
- Ecoxgear Sol Jam Bluetooth Speaker
- Gumdrop Cases DropTech Case + Hand Strap for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Braven BRV-1M Bluetooth Speaker
- Braven BRV-Blade Bluetooth Speaker
- Invoxia Voice Bridge
- Incase Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app