All iPods with dock connector
Quickly scans to new stations
Finds clear stations regularly
Charges iPod / iPhone while in use
Subject to some interference
Remote has too many options
I’m not sure that the iPhone apps that accompany the recent vintage iPod FM transmitters are absolutely necessary to their function, but the two best transmitters I’ve tested in 2010 – the Belkin TuneCast Auto and the Griffin iTrip Auto – both have optional iPhone apps.
While the TuneCast slightly edges out the iTrip Auto in my testing, the iTrip Auto is a very, very close second.
All The Features You’d Want
The Griffin iTrip Auto looks and works very similarly to the TuneCast Auto or Montser’s iCarPlay 800. It plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter on one end and the iPod or iPhone’s dock connector on the other. A small remote on the cable lets you search for and select an FM frequency to broadcast music from the iPod or iPhone to your car’s stereo.
Like the other devices, the iTrip Auto scans for interference-free or allows you to manually tune for them. It offers three preset stations and a number of other options (these options are actually somewhat too numerous and thus complex, a slight downside to the iTrip). The remote sports an easy-to-read screen that also lights up for nighttime use.
The most basic test of an iPod FM transmitter is how well it finds interference-free stations to broadcast on. In the case of the iTrip Auto, the answer is very well. The iTrip Auto consistently found clear stations and was able to broadcast music to my car stereo without substantial interference.
Though the TuneCast tended to find slightly clearer stations, the iTrip found stations faster and wasn’t substantially more prone to interference.
The Bottom Line
With a 4.5-star rating, the Belkin TuneCast Auto is the reigning champ in the iPhone/iPod FM transmitter space in my reviews. If I could give the iTrip Auto 4.25 or 4.3 stars, I would.
It’s a very close second, but it’s just slightly less usable and slightly less good at finding clear stations – but really very slightly. While I prefer the TuneCast, you’ll be pleased if you use the Griffin iTrip Auto.