Griffin Technology TuneFlex Aux with SmartClick
The Griffin TuneFlex Aux with SmartClick ($79) offers a tidy, creative way to charge and control your iPod or iPhone in the car. The TuneFlex Aux kit includes a flexible charging stand, remote control, 3.5mm line-input cable, and eight acrylic dock adapters for every model of iPod and iPhone made over the past three years.
In-car iPod chargers are cheap and plentiful these days, but the TuneFlex Aux is distinguished by its remote control. Griffin's remote comes in two pieces: a plastic base with a Velcro strap that wraps around a section of your car's steering wheel; and the remote itself, which magnetically sticks to the base. The two-part system improves on similar steering wheel-attached remotes we've seen from DLO, with better ergonomics and a more practical way to quickly detach and reattach the remote from the steering wheel.
The remote's design includes an oversize play and pause button, track-skip controls, a switch to dim your iPod's backlight (for night driving), and a shuffle-mode control. Each of the buttons includes raised markings and is formed in a unique shape to help distinguish it from the others without requiring you to take your eyes off the road.
The in-car iPod dock that comes as part of the TuneFlex Aux kit is made up of a standard cigarette-lighter plug, a 5-inch flexible shaft, and an iPod connector that can be fitted with one of the eight included iPod and iPhone adapters. The very base of the dock includes a volume adjustment knob and 3.5mm line-out jack that, depending on your car stereo, can be coupled with the included 3-foot line-input cable or a cassette adapter (not included). The Griffin TuneFlex Aux does not offer any FM transmitter capabilities, so if your car stereo lacks an aux input and you can't stomach the thought of a cassette adapter, then you're out of luck.
During casual use over a few days, we found the TuneFlex Aux did a great job supporting and charging our iPod and wasn't as cumbersome sticking out of our console as the DLO TransDock Direct. The remote control is one of the best in-car iPod remotes we've used, with very little latency and an extremely intuitive button layout. For the price, we wish that some kind of dashboard mount or air-condition grate mount were included, as well, because there were times during quick turns when the steering-wheel mount distracted us by whipping around or brushing against the leg.
If the Griffin TuneFlex Aux with SmartClick were half the price, we'd have no problem recommending it as a top in-car iPod accessory. At around $80, however, you'd be halfway to buying a new iPod-compatible stereo if you bought this.