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Griffin iTrip Auto

Griffin Technology's iTrip Auto is the newest member of the iTrip family, a line of FM transmitters designed for the Apple iPod. True to its name, the iTrip Auto can be used only in the car. The device can extract audio from any iPod with a dock connector and is controlled by an in-line remote that is powered by a cigarette lighter. The cable in its entirety is long enough for comfortable use in the car, but we would have preferred some kind of docking cradle in which our iPod could sit. In addition, it was strange to be tethered in this way to the cigarette jack, since we were so used to having a completely wireless experience with iTrips of the past, which were battery operated. Of course, there are obvious advantages to being connected to your car's power, such as recharging the iPod.

But we also disliked that the transmitter lacked preset buttons; although the Griffin iTrip Auto remembers the last station it was on before powering off, we'd rather be able to scroll through a series of preset frequencies to find the best sound. The most interesting feature of the iTrip Auto is the integration of two sound-quality settings: DX and LX. Recognizing the issues that arise in real-world application, Griffin gives users the option of switching between LX for stereo transmission and DX mode for a stronger but mono auditory signal. The iTrip is also capable of transmitting in both U.S. and international modes for a wide array of radio stations.

In terms of clarity of transmission, the Griffin iTrip Auto performed better than previous versions but still experienced bouts with static interference and fuzz in certain areas around the city. We weren't able to find a clear radio station that provided a continuous, uninterrupted signal for our music. Switching to DX mode helped with the signal but at the expense of the sound quality. The $70 price tag is worth it for a combination FM transmitter and car charger, but due to the absence of preset stations, the lack of a stationary cradle, and the sketchy audio transmission, the iTrip can't hold a candle to our current king of the ring, the DLO TransPod.