First Looks Special: Griffin iTrip for New iPod (5G) | iLounge Article

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First Looks Special: Griffin iTrip for New iPod (5G)

Even though Apple has discontinued the top-mounting accessory port used by most of the FM transmitters and remote controls released over the past two years, it was inevitable that companies would produce bottom-mounting versions for the new 5G iPod and iPod nano. Griffin Technology’s newest version of iTrip ($50) is the first we’ve received, and in all honesty, it’s underwhelming. We’ll explain why below.

First, the good points. The new iTrip preserves almost all of the functionality from its recent iTrip (with LCD) predecessor: there’s a bright LCD screen on the front and a station toggle on the right. Audio performance appears to be similar, perhaps not identical - we’ll have more testing to do before we can come to any definitive conclusions.

Holding down the toggle button - on the unit’s right side - toggles between “international” and “US” radio tuning modes, giving users an extended collection of FM stations to tune through, and LX or DX modes, which let you choose between cleaner monaural broadcasting or weaker stereo broadcasting.

New to the iTrip is a mini-USB port on the bottom left corner, which will enable you to connect an optional car charger cable at the same time as you’re broadcasting. Griffin also plans to release a dedicated automotive version of iTrip - iTrip Auto (previewed in our Holiday Buyers’ Guide) - with an integrated charging cable.

One of the bad changes to the new iTrip is its new tuning toggle - a three position lever (up, down, and “in”) rather than the great rotary dial that was on the iTrip (with LCD). You press the lever up to go up in stations, down to go down, and inwards to select one. It’s not as easy as using the dial, and not as attractive.

The back of the new iTrip isn’t quite as elegant as its predecessor, either. For the first time in Griffin history, the iTrip’s antenna is now visible on the back of the case, which has a plus and a minus: visually, it’s a minus, but tinkerers can more easily pull the antenna outwards for a boost in FM transmitting power. Neither we nor Griffin recommend this - it’s a violation of FCC transmitting regulations - but people hacked their iTrip minis with a similar trick, and it’s now easier than ever.

Another oddball thing about the new iTrip - it doesn’t sit evenly on the bottom of any iPod to which it’s attached, bending off on an angle. But it does attach to all Dock Connecting iPods from 3G to 5G, mini and nano, and looks okay doing so. 
Why not make it perfect? We get the impression that Griffin is working on better versions of the iTrip, including iTrip Auto, iTrip for iPod nano, and perhaps others, and that this is just a temporary solution for people who need something right now (or in time for the holidays). Take that as you will.

We’ll have a full review of the new iTrip shortly. Our most recent full-length First Looks is still available for your perusal separately.

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Comments

1

I am truly hoping that Griffin is goiing to add black colored products to their line. That white iTrip just doesn’t look good with the black iPod.

Posted by Tenchi211 in California on November 11, 2005 at 5:24 PM (CST)

2

I dont if its a big deal, but I dont like the “rounded” appearence that was common in previous models. I hope they make the front flat like newer 5G and Nano models have.

Posted by midnightslade on November 11, 2005 at 8:43 PM (CST)

3

Should have been an amazing product shame they seem to have got it wrong this time although im sure we will all buy one then upgrade when they bring out a better one.  I think in the end im gonna save up and get the Harmon Kardon drive and play when thats out.

Posted by doug71 on November 13, 2005 at 3:55 PM (CST)

4

meh, okay i guess

Posted by Noah Gomberg on November 13, 2005 at 6:07 PM (CST)

5

glad to see they relized that the itrip blocks the dock connector, so they added a usb port on it. kudos to them.

Posted by ipodlova on November 13, 2005 at 10:41 PM (CST)

6

Couple of things; now I have to remove the iTrip everytime it’s plugged into my firewire cable, and for those of us who have our iPods in a case (which is most, I think) will the iTrip seat correctly in the connector with the case still on? I just like it better on top I guess.

Posted by petelbury on November 14, 2005 at 11:20 AM (CST)

7

I just wanted to comment on Griffin’s iTrip line in general.  I bought the iTrip as soon as I bought my 2G iPod, at the time, it was the only transmitter specifically designed for the iPod, and I believe, the first accessory, that wasn’t another case, and did so using, what I thought, was a pretty ingenuous interface using the iPod itself.  Then Apple changed the remote control port, perhaps realizing it’s potential for accessory add-ons (perhaps due specifically to what Griffin has done).  When the 3G iPods were released, it kinda bothered me that Apple choose to tout Belkin with it’s accessories instead of Griffin, but Griffin was the clear choice.  Additionally, Griffin didn’t waste any time modifying their iTrip to accommodate the new iPod design.  Lets also not for get, that other accessory makers like iSkin made their product iTrip compatible.  Clearly, as the iPod advanced and competition in FM transmitter became more intense, the innovative little “setting the iTrip using a Song” interface became annoying and a digital interface was the way.  I think Griffin kind dropped the ball here relying on what had worked and not keeping up with changing tech and demographics, ie techie to Mr. Joe Smoe.  My dad for instance just couldn’t seem to get the iTrip interface to work no matter how many times I showed him.  However, Giffin’s last iTrip with the beautiful shiny chrome knob, now that my dad could master, in fact he fell in love with it showing it off to others.  The Apple once again throws in a curve ball, get rid of the accessory (remote control) port on top of the iPod.  Well, that’s were the iTrip as resided since it’s incarnation, but Griffin responded almost as soon as the new iPod was released, perhaps it was the next obvious incarnation and Griffin was prepared for it, or, and I think this is more likely, Griffin already had this design, ultimately rejecting it in favor of a more elegant and functional top mounted LCD.  I think it’s a mistake on Apple’s part to eliminate such an accessible accessory tie-in, but may not have been preventable with the new design.  The biggest problem with bottom mounted anything, is stand and docks, what ever is mounted on the bottom has to account for this.  After my Firewire iPod I moved on, and bought two iTrips since.  Now days, however, when I listen to my iPod in my car, I use the auxiliary port provided in my new car.  I still have my iTrip tossing around, and it still comes in handy on occasions.  I think Griffin get it a fair shot with this undermounted iTrip while trying to preserve what made iTrip, iTrip.  We might be seeing the end of this little gadget I’ve had as long of a relationship with as I have with my iPods.

Posted by kaioslider on November 14, 2005 at 9:13 PM (CST)

8

Oh, and the usb port, that’s just Griffin all the way :)

Posted by kaioslider on November 14, 2005 at 9:14 PM (CST)

9

but the USB port is one of the strange kinds, the flat kind that sony uses, at least on my digital camera it is.  What’s the point in having the mini usb port?  The only way I cna think of that being useful is if you have a cigarette lighter to standard 2 or 3 prong electrical outlet, then an apple USB charger, and finally one of the USB type A-flat USB cables.  NO auto charger has taht prot, and I can’t even think of one that uses USB at all.  Nice idea with a pass trough, but why make it some funky USB when they could’ve made the product a little taller and add a full 30 pin dock connector pass through so taht ALL car chargers taht use the dock connector would work?

Posted by brianbobcat on November 14, 2005 at 11:21 PM (CST)

10

It’s actually a standard USB port, there are several difference kinds.  Griffin sells a auto power port adaptor that excepts usb cables, there are several other on the market as well.  I think the USB port on the new iTrip is called a MiniUSB, but don’t quote me, there is even a smaller one.  Go into any computer store or radioshack and you can get one for cheap money.  Anyways, it’s a common usb plug used on almost all portable devices now days, like bt mouses, PDAs, some keyboards, etc.

Posted by kaioslider on November 15, 2005 at 9:03 AM (CST)

11

it is the same one for the PSP

Posted by jitaroo on November 15, 2005 at 2:17 PM (CST)

12

but guys you’re forgetting that this is for charging, not syncing.  Yes, it’s a firly standard mini USB port, but what charger out there has one of these plugs to provide power to an ipod?  NONE.  The PSP uses it for data transfer, and in that case you would then go to best buy, get one of the USB type A (standard rectangular 4pin) to mini USB, but what would you transfer to the itrip, it already has all the FM stations on it so the answer is nothing.

Posted by brianbobcat on November 16, 2005 at 12:53 AM (CST)

13

It’s not the end of the world that it has a mini-USB port - it just means you need a standard mini-USB cable and plug into say a Griffin Power-Jolt auto charger. But come on guys, wouldn’t a pass-through doc port like is provided on the Xtreme-Mac Nano transmitter have been better? That way you would only need to carry one cable for both car charging and synching and use with the apple mains charger. It would also presumably mean you could synch the thing without removing the transmitter. In fact, why couldn’t they make the profile of the thing the same as one of the new iPod models, with a pass through doc connector, then you could put the thing in the standard apple cradle. I wonder if the Xtreme Mac nano model allows that.

I don’t understand the comment that it “bends off at an angle”. What does that mean?

Posted by Countach on November 16, 2005 at 1:38 AM (CST)

14

It looks pretty good to me! Obviously the reason why they changed it from a knob to a springy switch is to make it harder to accidentally change channels.

Yeah the USB port is kinda unexpected, but it was what they could do in the allotted space. Obviously they are thinking of people with the Apple USB power adapter, who most likely have a digital camera with that type of cable.

I don’t understand why people are being so hard on the new iTrip.

Posted by minty on November 16, 2005 at 9:00 AM (CST)

15

I hate the bottom mounting, it looks so stupid…why Apple, why do you hate us so? What did we do to lose the top jack? Apple, o Apple, why have thou foresaken us?

Posted by PimpyMicPimp on November 16, 2005 at 8:29 PM (CST)

16

well, ithink that overall, this iTrip is just like the one with LCD but with a dock. and Countach, i think it would be better to have two cables rather than one, and who’d rather get a pricey apple USb cable rather than a cheap-o USB Mini to USB? i have psp and it’s cable so this is no problem. ABout the knob and springy thing, i like the springy thing more than the knob, because you have to keep spining to reach a far number, but in this one all you have to do is hold it down and wait for it to reach the station. also, the back looks better with the griffin logo rather than a white space! plus, with the outside antenna you have better reception, and being the owner of a previous iTrip (no LCD) i think if it is outside you will have MUCH mor better quality from where i started. also, on the plus side it works on old docking iPods, but i have doubts about the charging with a USB for 3Gs because the Apple USB charger doesn’t work with it.

Posted by jitaroo on November 17, 2005 at 1:08 PM (CST)

17

I just bought the new 60 GB video, so I had to buy this newer iTrip…...It doesn’t even work,and it feels like its not secure while on the iPod, it feels like it could just slide right out. And there were not a lot of choices at the time of purchase as far as cases went so my new iTrip will not fit with the case I have now.  I’m very disappointed.  I was very pleased with the setup I had on my 20 GB..where it was seated on top and I had a case that fit perfectly with the iTrip connected.  I go back and forth between radios throughout the day and it was important to have a transmitter I didn’t have to plug in as I do not always have access to a car cigarette lighter. 

However I was very happy with my old iTrip, the one with the silver knob, unfortunatly I cannot use it.

I am almost tempted to take my 60 GB video back (I just bought it two days ago) and go back to the 20 GB I had, thats how much this problem is bothering me!  LOL!

Posted by Boldblend on November 27, 2005 at 11:28 PM (CST)

18

Hey Boldblend: would you please explain what you meant by “it doesn’t even work” ?

I just bought one of these (haven’t received it yet) and you’re making me a little nervous… :-(

Posted by MonkeySpank on November 29, 2005 at 10:18 AM (CST)

19

It could be just a defect in mine…..but I have sat with it and tried EVERY station…and when I can hear it, it is very very faint through horrible static.  With my previous iTrip (with the silver knob) it worked pretty decently on 90.3, and with the belkin tranmitter I had in the past, on 88.3.  I cannot get this new one to work on any station, or any radio.  I will be curios as to what your experiance is with it.

Posted by Boldblend on December 3, 2005 at 4:29 PM (CST)

20

I can’t get reception in my car but was able to get one of the radios in my home to pick it up and the sound quality was fine but reception was very sensitive to the location of the ipod.  But I bought it for the car so I am not happy with it.  It could be a matter of location as I live in the city but if it does not play in my car it is worthless to me.  I will play with if further to see if I can make it work.  It is conveniently small but disconnects to easily.

Posted by grady85 on December 22, 2005 at 11:06 AM (CST)

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