Comparison Review: XtremeMac AirPlay vs. Griffin iTrip Mini

When I got my iPod Mini a few months back, I also got a Griffin iTrip Mini FM Transmitter to listen to it while driving. I should mention that for those who own a car, you really should look at getting a direct line in for your iPod to your car stereo or use a cassette adapter if you have a cassette deck. Either of these options is vastly superior to using an FM transmitter. I don’t own a car, so the only time I drive is in rentals. Most new cars used by rental agencies have CD standard these days, so a cassette adapter is not an option.

Even though I know that no FM transmitter is perfect, the iTrip Mini was still disappointing to me. The main things that bugged me:

– Changing the channel is difficult. A lot of my driving is long distance, which means having to change the broadcast channel every couple of hours, as the ’empty channel’ I was using becomes a used channel further on down the road. On the iTrip Mini to change the channel you need to stop the current song, go into a special playlist where the tuning files are, play the one for the channel you want until the light flashes and then press pause (and if your timing is off, you have to do it over again), then go back and start up the song you are playing. Now imagine trying to do that while driving. Worse distraction than using a cell phone! Ridiculous!
– Poor FM performance, lots of interference.
– Covers up the hold switch.

Recently I heard the XtremeMac has come out with a new iPod transmitter called the AirPlay. Reviews of it were generally very good, but what sold me was the tuning method. Instead of going with painfully complex procedures as above, they just have an up and down button on the transmitter with a backlit LCD to show the channel. Just tune up or down to the channel you want, and that’s it. You don’t even need to interrupt the song you are playing. Besides that, its FM performance seems to be much better. There is still some interference, but much less than with the iTrip Mini. The transmitter is also smaller, and does not cover up the hold button. Overall, I find it much better than the iTrip Mini. The one disadvantage is that the Airplay’s lowest channel is 88.3, while the iTrip Mini starts at 87.9.

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