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As drivers increasingly use their car stereos to play their iPods rather than radio stations or CDs, enabling accessories are becoming ever more sophisticated. The Griffin Technology iTrip AutoPilot FM Transmitter is as sophisticated an enabler as they come.
It includes a feature called SmartScan that automatically scans the FM airwaves for the three clearest frequencies and saves them to preset buttons. A selected frequency is brightly displayed (above) so you can tune in your radio likewise.
The Griffin Technology iTrip AutoPilot FM Transmitter also charges your iPod or iPhone from the car's cigarette lighter or 12-volt accessory jack. A three-stage light ring changes color to indicate the charging status: Red indicates the iTrip is plugged in, Amber that charging is in progress, and Green that your iPod or iPhone is fully charged. The AutoPilot playback control puts a set of iPod playback controls in easy reach. You can stash your iPod out of sight and still control playback at the touch of a finger while you keep your eyes on the road.
In a radio station-heavy location like New York City or Los Angeles, you'll probably be rescanning for a clear frequency more than once as you drive around, though having three presets means you have two back-up channels ready to switch to as needed. You can always bypass the SmartScan function and set your own frequency. I found that switching to the mono mode resulted in a stronger signal than stereo. Also, I preferred listening to podcasts and audiobooks in mono.
Alternative FM transmitter products from Griffin include two models that work with iTrip Controller software, a free download from the App Store for your iPod or iPhone. One is the iTrip FM Transmitter with App Support and a backlit OLED display (left), a model that doesn't include the charger and runs on the internal power of your iPod or iPhone. Since all these transmitters work with any FM radio, this model may make more sense for use in your home or office. If you want to combine an OLED with the iTrip Controller App and an in-car charger, Griffin offers the iTrip Auto FM Transmitter and Car Charger for iPod & iPhone. Griffin calls the latter model "the most advanced iTrip ever."
Screens from Griffin's iTrip Controller App—a free download from the App Store
Touch controls using the iTrip Controller App for use with two particular iTrip Auto models include a SmartScan launch function (above left), rotary dial for choosing the transmitter frequency (center) and a presets Save function (right).