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Griffin iTrip Nano

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I love iPods, but not their headphones. Sticking bits of plastic into my head just seems wrong. Perhaps more to the point, putting speakers that close to the inner workings of your ears – even every small speakers – carries with it the very real risk of doing serious damage to your hearing.

This, and walking around with wires dangling from your face looks silly.

The iTrip Nano from Griffin Technology will turn any iPod Nano into a very, very small radio station. It will allow your iPod to play through a nearby FM radio, rather than piping its tunes directly into your brain.

While applications for this device will no doubt vary among users, I used it to transform an iPod into satellite radio without the monthly bill. It plays through the radios of an assortment of vehicles – not all of which, like the Explorer reviewed earlier in this issue, have audio input jacks.

Northern Ontario lacking anything resembling a jazz station, the combination of a handful of iPods and the iTrip Nano has served to make long road trips a bit shorter, and it subdues the tricked-out Hondas with 1200-watt stereos so beloved of the tourists that migrate up here each summer.

The iTrip Nano is one of the most elegant iPod gadgets I’ve encountered to date. It consists of a plastic plate that slips behind an iPod Nano, roughly doubling its thickness and adding half an inch or so to its height. It’s powered by a host iPod’s internal batteries. When it’s docked with an iPod, it automatically wakes itself up and starts playing.

The iTrip’s sound quality is comparable to that of an iPod – certainly as good as anything else that’s likely to be received through an FM radio – and it includes internal logic to adjust its host iPod’s volume to prevent it from being overmodulated, and distorting its sound.

The iTrip can be tuned to any available FM radio frequency – you’ll want to find one that’s not being used by a genuine radio station to avoid interference from the sorts of music the iTrip lets you forget was ever recorded. It has a range of a yard or two, which is ample to get from your dashboard to the antenna for your car’s radio.

The iTrip Nano is configured through a control wheel on the side of its case, and several screens which it adds to a host iPod when it’s attached. The control wheel is arguably its least agreeable feature, being a bit funky and awkward to use. This having been said, you’re unlikely to want to use it much once you’ve set up the iTrip, and its funkiness can probably be forgiven.

There is one other issue to keep in mind about the iTrip Nano – being powered by a host iTrip’s batteries, it will reduce the playing time of a iPod between charges. Left to its own devices, a fully charged iPod Nano seems to be able to play for twelve to fourteen hours. This drops to five or six hours with the iTrip attached.

…which I can’t help but find to be an equitable compromise, given that the alternative out here is to listen to something called “Moose FM.”

Comments (2)

[…] headphones with a portable music player – the house favorite is a tiny transmitter, such as the Griffin iTrip, to play them through a nearby FM radio. Clearly, this isn’t always appropriate behavior. Turning […]

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