In recent years I’ve purchased a number of gadgets and accessories for Mac and iPod from Griffin Technologies, starting with the iMic, moving to iTrip, radioShark and others.
In each case, I’ve become more disappointed with quality, price, performance, and support.
I want Griffin’s products to excite me. The web site descriptions, the packages, the look and feel of nearly everything Griffin gives me warm and fuzzies. Except how the products work.
That’s not a good sign. The latest disappointment is the remarkably expensive iTrip Auto. That neat-looking but uninspiring gizmo for iPods follows a disappointing experience with the Griffin radioShark, and the new iMic.
The radioShark is a cool-looking USB radio for your Mac. Jack Miller wrote about radioSharkHere and gave it generally good reviews.
Style over substance. While the radioShark looks cool, has a cool sounding name, and the first impression from the software is, “ooooh… nice job…” the actual product disappoints.
Why? You’re expecting to receive radio stations with radioShark, right? It’s USB, requires no external power, has a neato scheduler so you can record radio programs when you’re not around to listen.
The quality of the reception is just a level or two above a tin can and string. ‘Poor reception’ doesn’t really describe radioShark’s poor reception.
I also bought one of Griffin’s early iTrips. iTrip turns your iPod into a mini radio station so you can broadcast from your iPod to an open frequency on your car’s radio (or any radio nearby).
The concept is very cool. The little Griffin gizmo attaches to your iPod, you select an open frequency, click Play, and your car’s radio plays music from your iPod.
The software used to set up the iTrip surely was written by Microsoft’s Windows Business Unit, as the Mac Business Unit surely knows better. I finally quit using iTrip and went for AirPlay from XtremeMac.
Better everything, half the price. So it is with Griffin’s latest version of iTrip, now called the iTrip Auto.
This is an improved version because now it’s easier to dial the open frequency using an LCD and controls—from 88.1Mhz to 107.9Mhz. The new version also broadcasts in stereo (LX mode).
Alas, the Griffin web site says the iTrip auto handles frequencies from 88.1 -107.9MHz, which indicates there’S no support for 87.9Mhz, the near perfect frequency for using such a device. Remember that number.
iTrip Auto means what it says. It connects to iPods with the standard dock connector, but power comes from a 12V cigarette lighter socket so you’re wedded to your car if you want to listen to iPod music via the iTrip Auto.
Sound quality of broadcast devices will never equal that of the cassette adapter, or the mini-jack inline adapters. Actually, iTrip Auto doesn’t sound quite as good as FM. The cassette adapters, though bulky and clumsy to set up, sound great in comparison.
So, why am I ragging on Griffin? Because it’s the third disappointment in a row. The radioShark doesn’t sound any better than a cheap $5 promotional radio yet costs a whopping $69.99.
That price must be stuck in a spreadsheet somewhere at Griffin because it’s the same retail price for the iTrip Auto; $69.99.
The iTrip Auto’s neat controller is about the only difference between it and XtremeMac’s AirPlay2. The sound is the same. AirPlay2 is $59.95.
Even better is RoadTrip+ from NewerTechnology. Same quality, $25.99. Go figure
I mentioned three disappointments in a row. Three strikes and you’re out, right? I purchased a new iMic at an Apple Store over the holidays. The old ones were large, round, silver disks with a USB cable.
The new iMics are white, to match iBooks and white iPods. It didn’t work. Every time I plugged it in to my Mac (and PowerBook), I got a loud “bleeeep” sound. It had to be returned.
Of course, I want better from Griffin. I expect better, because I’m a Mac user.
Tera Jean Patricks
This is a case of not getting what you pay for. Some of these products don’t match their price tag. I’m not happy with radioShark.
Jack D. Miller
I get decent, though not great, reception with my radioShark, though I’m amazed that the scheduling software can’t figure out daylight savings time. I’ve got a bunch of radio shows scheduled so I don’t look forward to March.
Griffin products are cool looking. They’re cute. Brad King says so.
Carol Mary Miller
Speaking of Brad King, I notice he’s added to his slam on Apple and iPod users Here.