Obsolete iPod Nano/iTrip question
April 18, 2007 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Super-specific obsolete iPod question: I recently got a refurbed 1G iPod Nano, which I was using in conjunction with an AirPlay^2 transmitter that has stopped working (and was never great in the first place). It looks like my cheapest alternatives are the discontinued Griffin Nanotrip (which doesn't even show up on their support pages) and their iTrip Auto. Does anyone have experience with these?

I can get the Nanotrip from Amazon for $20 (originally $50). This unit plugs into the bottom of the Nano and piggybacks onto the unit, increasing its overall thickness by about 100%. I like that it takes control of the iPod screen for navigational purposes, and I like that it provides a USB connection instead of a dock connection; I don't have a car charger for my iPod, and getting a USB-to-DC adapter looks like it will only run me about $10. Using this means that I really can't use any existing case on the market to protect it; however, when hooked up to the Nanotrip it will lead a mostly sedentarylife in my car.

I can get the iTrip Auto from Amazon for $38 (as opposed to buying at Target for $70). This looks to be about $5-$10 more expensive than the other option, and I worry that the transmitter-on-a-cord will be harder to keep in place (since positioning is critical to getting good reception), but it will be compatible with any future iPod and it would work with my current case, negating any cost savings.

Anyone care to testify on behalf of either piece of tech?
posted by blueshammer to Technology (5 answers total)
Cnet has a comparison of the various iPod car accessories in their iPod central area.

I have an iTrip which is compact and easy to use-- just attach it to your iPod and set it to a station.

The problem is finding a station with very little background interference. I get a little bit of static with the best station I can find. Not too bad, but not as clear as a normal FM radio station. It has no preset memory, so if you drive into an area of high interference, you have to find a new empty station and then change the iTrip's station (not something easy or safe to do while driving).

Other wireless solutions seem to have the same or different problems according to the Cnet user reviews. The DLO transpot, which Cnet liked, apparently has problems with some nanos.
posted by justkevin at 11:03 AM on April 18, 2007

Correction: the model I have is the iTrip 9500, which is different from the iTrip auto.
posted by justkevin at 11:08 AM on April 18, 2007

Pretty much every FM transmitter device is going to be plugged into the AC adapter, so having the transmitter "integrated" as opposed to an additional dongle hanging off isn't that big of a deal. I would go with the iTrip Auto, also because it won't become obsolete if you decide to upgrade your MP3 player.

I've used the Sirius Frequency Finder to locate a decent FM frequency. Just plug in the zip codes along your route, and pick the few that repeatedly come up.

It's not perfect, but better than throwing darts at a dartboard.
posted by meowzilla at 12:55 PM on April 18, 2007

I'd avoid any additional dongles. Griffin's dongles always seem to short out near the plug and end up sounding like a crummy pair of earbuds. (Just ask mr. jumble for a dongle demo sometime.)
posted by jumble at 1:43 PM on April 18, 2007

Ho boy. I work at a Mac store and we carry about 25 of these at any given time, 25 that I'm supposed to differentiate between for customers constantly.

The short answer to your question is:
the iTrip Auto is better.

>> Pretty much every FM transmitter device is going to be plugged into the AC adapter

If by that you mean it connects using the iPod's dock connector, then yes. If you mean "Has an AC adapter that plugs into the cigarette lighter," then no, about half of them do and half of them don't.

And that's the main difference here -- the iTrip Auto plugs into your cigarette lighter. This means:
- instead of being a significant additional drain on your iPod's battery, it will charge the battery while you're using it (good!)
- it can put out a stronger signal, which means better reception (good!)
- it can only be used in the car, with a working cigarette ligher that is not being used by a cell phone or something (possibly bad!)

There are also transmitters that work either way -- the xtrememac one is a decent one. That way you can use it even when a cigarette lighter isn't available, and with a standard car charger you can plug it in when one is. (When you do, you will be able to immediately tell the difference in sound)

Finally, to make it even more difficult for you; if you want the best-reviewed FM transmitter, don't get either of these. Get the one from Kensington. Seems to come in best in the most cars.

And no matter which one you get, realize that some cars just don't seem to like them -- tinted windows, antenna placement, brand of radio can all made a difference. No matter which one it is, you will have to occasionally find a better station to be using for the area you're in.

And that's why I use a five-buck tape adapter.

(further reading at ilounge)
posted by churl at 3:11 PM on April 18, 2007

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