My iPod is a constant companion. It comes with me every time I leave the house. Except, until recently, when I’m driving somewhere. The iTrip has changed all that.
This barrel-shaped add-on turns your iPod into a tiny FM radio station. This means that you can play music from your iPod anywhere there’s a radio, like in your car. Using an iPod playlist, you just tune your device to a unused radio frequency, tune your radio to the same frequency and you’re ready to go.
The configuration process is a bit finicky, and the iTrip doesn’t fit as snugly as I’d like into my iPod, but once you get going, there’s no complaints. I’ve gone on a couple of long drives with it, and it’s invaluable. When optimized, the quality is, predictably, as good as a clear FM radio station. It’d be of particularly use to anyone who drives a great deal.
[The iRock, a similar device which I had recommended before the iTrip came along, is easier to configure, and it can be used with any device with a earphone plug; the iTrip, however is made specifically to augment the iPod. But as Darren notes: "the iRock only offers four FM frequencies to choose from, while you can choose any frequency you want with the iTrip. Additionally, the iRock requires its own batteries. Plus, of course, the iTrip's a lot niftier looking." My own experience and that of many others is that neither the iRock nor the iTrip will work well consistently in areas where there is dense radio broadcasts -- like much of the Bay Area. Some find the iRock doesn't work, but the iPod does, others the reverse. Also some newer cars have problems because of the location of their antenna. Most people are happy with these devices when used outside of cities. In Europe the Smart Car is available with the smart-idea of a clean built-in dock for your iPod; I suspect other cars will follow. Until that happy day, or a USB port in all cars, this is one of those things I would borrow first, or be sure you can easily return it. There are now several flavors for iTrip: the original for "original" iPods, a newer one for iPods with a dock connector on the bottom, and others. This page will sort them out for you. --KK]