The iTrip AutoPilot by Griffin is a car charger and FM transmitter for your iPhone or iPod that takes the minimalist approach to design, but adds a few handy features to make it stand out against the competition.
Design and Features
The first thing you may notice is that AutoPilot doesn't come with a cradle or any type of holding mechanism, which many other car iPod/iPhone products come with. This simple unit consists of just a cigarette car charger, a plug for either an iPhone or iPod, and a 3-button control panel with an LED display positioned on the cord that connects these two end points.
Available in every colour so long as it's black, the iTrip AutoPilot looks neither cool nor ugly, just practical. There are a clutch of controls on the cigarette lighter connection, from which you can play, pause, and skip tracks. This should prevent drivers from getting too distracted when behind the wheel, although it's not as handy as the Kensington LiquidAUX Deluxe's wireless remote, which can be attached to the steering wheel.
Once plugged in, the device is easy enough to get up and running. This is thanks to the SmartScan feature, which automatically seeks out empty radio frequencies. Another feature branded as "Smart" is SmartSound, which can be used to manually fine tune the sound to better match your car's stereo system. These advanced settings took a little while to figure out but once we'd mastered them, the results were much better than on other FM transmitters we've tested.
A feature which doesn't add a lot to the experience is the AutoPilot's support for RDS text, which allows sound systems that support RDS text to read song and artist information from your iPhone or iPod and display them on the car radio's head unit screen.
While the iTrip AutoPilot may look like a rather simple device, thanks to its non-existant cradle, there are enough features to make up for this omission, especially for those whom better FM transmission is a priority. You'll need to find a spot on your dashboard, or in the glovebox, for your iPod/iPhone though.