Review: Griffin iTrip AutoPilot

I picked up an Griffin iTrip AutoPilot FM Transmitter a few weeks back, hoping to be able to listen to the tunes, and charge my iPhone at the same time. I bought it a a Roger’s phone outlet here in Ottawa – a bit pricey at about $100.

Turns out the device has a few issues: 

  • Biggest complaint: It absolutely SUCKS at transmitting audio to the FM radio in the car. The signal is WEAK WEAK. And, if you drive for over a mile or two, all of a sudden, the signal is lost as new, more powerful stations come in. Even though the new stations are very far away. Basically, you will hear TONS OF STATIC all day long on this thing.
  • Terrible search function – could be European model? It has a built-in search function which is supposed to find an empty channel. It does, but does it poorly. The channels it finds to broadcast on are NOT the default channels used in Canada. It wouldn’t surprise me if Griffin was selling us a European version of the device since we’re in far away Canada, clearly a European country…
  • The device doesn’t remember the last channel it was broadcasting on. So, every time I hop in the car, I have to reset it to the station I want to use. Very annoying.

Beware of this device.

UPDATE: I contacted Griffin as suggested in a comment. Explained the issues – and a new iTrip is on its way. They agreed that it appears that Roger’s (The Canadian iPhone carrier) stores are carrying the European version of the iTrip (at least they were when I bought). So, check this out before you buy. I don’t know how to tell the difference, except that the European version finds stations on even numbers, not odd (ie, 106.2, not 106.1), and does not save the transmit frequency when power is lost. Further updates when the new unit arrives. So far, excellent service from Griffin.

UPDATE 2: Received the new device from Griffin, and many of the issues are fixed. The unit now searches better, and remembers the last station it was tuned to. This makes it MUCH more functional. However, I still have problems with the transmit power. I understand it’s transmitting at the maximum allowed power, but something in the design is not working. I’ve tried the device on 3 different cars, and in each I’ve had to hang the iPhone over the rear view mirror by its wire in order to get a consistent usable signal strength. If the device is simply sitting between the front seats in the car, or is on the floor, the radio can’t pick up its signal at all. So, close, but not quite there yet.

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2 responses to “Review: Griffin iTrip AutoPilot”

  1. Dave Delaney says :

    Hi Rich:
    I’m sorry to see you’re having difficulties with the iTrip AutoPilot. Please contact our customer service department to help resolve your issues. They are more than happy to help you.

    email: support@griffintechnology.com.

    Thanks,
    Dave Delaney

  2. Elliot says :

    A buddy of mine designed the similar unit for Belkins. He confirmed that FCC regs make it hard for this thing to work. I purchased one from Ebay, no brand name, model number 668A, which has plenty of signal strength to work well. His comment was that it probably doesn’t meet FCC regs- guess Ebay doesn’t check.
    They limit power to output stage, but have practically no antenna. So putting an external antenna on it could help a lot, with proper loading.
    Mine had a lot of noise, put a ferrite bead on the power cord (cig lighter->usb->transmitter) and it quieted right down.

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