Following an exclusive pre-Macworld Expo interview with Griffin Technology representatives Chris Heric and Sharp Emmons, iLounge was blown away by the company’s new SmartDeck audio cassette adapter ($24.99) – a patent pending in-car solution for iPods that both transmits an iPod’s music to a car stereo and permits that stereo’s existing controls to operate the iPod. SmartDeck will ship in the second quarter of this year.

Macworld: Exclusive: Griffin’s SmartDeck knocks out car cassette rivals

White in color and otherwise externally almost identical to Sony’s CPA-9C cassette adapter, the SmartDeck connects to an iPod’s headphone jack and four-pin top accessory port with a single white cable, and is inserted into a car’s cassette tape player to enable inexpensive and clean iPod-to-stereo audio transmission. However, SmartDeck differs internally from the CPA-9C and less reliable competitors, using optical technology to map the stereo’s fast forward, rewind, and other buttons to the iPod’s internal controls. Moreover, Griffin’s engineering representative promised that the product would outperform Sony’s adapter – our benchmark for reliability – in performance and longevity. As Sony’s adapter shames low-end products made by companies such as Coby, we can’t help but be excited for its potential.

Given its inexpensive price, seemingly great audio quality and certain utility to millions of iPod owners, Griffin’s SmartDeck is the single most important product we’ve seen thus far before Macworld Expo. If the finished product delivers on Griffin’s promises – and on time – it will be a must-have accessory for iPod owners with in-car cassette decks. Click on Read More for a higher-resolution photograph, and expect additional information in the days to come.

Jeremy Horwitz

Jeremy Horwitz was the Editor-in-Chief at iLounge. He has written over 5,000 articles and reviews for the website and is one of the most respected members of the Apple media. Horwitz has been following Apple since the release of the original iPod in 2001. He was one of the first reviewers to receive a pre-release unit of the device, and his review helped put iLounge on the map as a go-to source for Apple news.