Hands On with Griffin RoadTrip


Over the years, I’ve owned several iPods. And along with them, several car charging solutions and/or car mounts. They’ve run the gamut from a low-tech cup holder to higher end solutions from Monster and Belkin. But my new favorite, by a long shot, is the latest iteration of the Griffin RoadTrip.

My recent search for an iPhone mount began when rumors of a GPS-enabled iPhone first surfaced. Other than a few clunky-looking generic device holders, I wasn’t seeing much until I stumbled upon the Griffin WindowSeat. Unfortunately, right about when I discovered the unit they either delayed the release or temporarily pulled it while adding an adapter to support the iPhone 3G. I also took a look at the highly regarded ProClip solutions, but the price ($65) and single car installation kept me away.

Enter Griffin RoadTrip. The newest version (MSRP $99, $68 @ Amazon) includes adapters for a wide variety of iPod devices, including both the iPhone and the iPhone 3G, charges the unit, looks great, and beams all audio over FM to your car stereo. The RoadTrip also nearly instantaneously identifies open frequencies to broadcast on. Which comes in handy given the radio pollution in metro areas like mine. (However, you can expect some GSM interference if using an iPhone with cellular connectivity – easily masked while music is playing. And this isn’t necessarily Griffin’s fault… I get similar interference without the mount in play when my phone pulls email, etc.)

As I’m still toting a first gen non-3G iPhone, I had assumed I’d have to load it up with my own tracks for in-car entertainment. However, Pandora over EDGE with the RoadTrip broadcasting in mono (less interference) works surprisingly well and is a decent solution since dumping XM. It’s also been nice to be able to see incoming callers without fumbling for the phone, and if the font is maxed out, I can read email – while the car is stopped, of course. I snapped a pic of Google Maps (below) to represent what I hope is some sort of future turn-by-turn GPS application… at which point I’ll upgrade my iPhone (or when Apple adds a respectable camera). And given my in-car success with Anderson Cooper’s 360 video podcast, I wouldn’t mind seeing some mobile Slingbox software.

11 thoughts on “Hands On with Griffin RoadTrip”

  1. I’ve never had much luck with car FM transmitters. The power never seems adequate to reach the rear antenna on my Saab. I bit the bullet quite some time ago and installed a dedicated audio aux jack near my source device.

  2. Yeah, aux jack is the way to go if a car is pre-installed or your’re savvy enough to do it yourself. Actually the power port of the RoadTrip has an line-out jack too. My car was one year too early to come with a port, but Melissa’s Honda has it – which is how she links her iPod nano “fatty.”

  3. Hmm. I’m tempted but didn’t have much luck with the Belkin FM transmitter I had with my first ipod years ago. It was way too spotty.

    Maybe if I find this at a convenient store with a reasonable return policy I will give it a try.

    I can’t believe my 2005 Acura MDX doesn’t have an audio jack. Can you recommend any resources available on how to add a dedicated audio jack to my car?


  4. Good to know about the line out, since i wouldn’t be using the fm transmitter. is that detachable? I really like the “arm” feature, but don’t need the fm transmitter if I can use the line out.

  5. I used to have a hacked Belkin transmitter that worked pretty good. It eventually died, and I have not got around to hacking my new Belkin transmitter.

    Are there kits available to add an aux in jack to OEM car audio systems?

  6. Not sure if there are kits, but I believe many modern radios have jacks on the back (for CD changers, satellite radio, etc) – so you should be able to run a female connection out from it and through a gap in the dash.

  7. My 2001 Saab didn’t have an aux input. My local stereo shop was able to add an aux input for approximately $100 using an FM Modulator and simple switch. Essentially, the switch cuts off the normal antenna and connects the aux input when connected. My particular FM Modulator is set to 89.1MHz. It works great and eliminates the frustration associated with FM Transmitters. Any decent indy audio shop should be able to perform this for less than $200. Many newer vehicles or popular vehicles already have aux input kits available that the stereo shop can install. These kits often provide extra features like better ipod integration.

  8. So where’s a good adapter that uses the bottom connector for power and line-out to aux? The Griffin AutoPilot doesn’t totally support the 3G (you get that Airplane mode warning…)

    And man, what’s the delay on the Slingplayer for iPhone? AT&T? Apple? Sling bite off more than they can chew? I can hack VNC4iPhone but ugh….

  9. I just got the Griffin RoadTrip too but I got the model that doesn’t act as a mount as that model would be too low for me to see the ipod. The reception (actually its the transmission) is by far the best out of the three models I’ve owned and the three station preset is great for drives around the state.
    My only complaint is with Apple as they changed the ports for the new ipod touch’s and my old itrip didn’t work with my 2G touch like it did with the 1stG touch which is what forced me to replace the (working) FM transmitter.

    I’m with JohnnyO about the slingplayer app, way too long to get it out.

  10. Building a solid streaming video app is not trivial and Apple’s sandbox can be restrictive. A jailbreak app was much easier by comparison… which they had like 9 months ago.

    JohnnyO, You could always use this without setting up the FM transmission. It’s a fine mount and has line out. At $100, it’d be steep. At $60-something at Amazon, it could be worthwhile. (You do get the airplane warning, as well. These things are probably too small too shield and receive official endorsement.)

    Gear, I hear ya on the height issue. We had a Belkin FM mount for an iPod Mini a few years back that was too tall. It really depends on the car layout and personal preference. In my Accord, the iPhone sits just where I want it. And actually a bit higher and closer, which is good, than the ProClip solution would have been.

  11. In any gadgets with music I prefer using the ones with fm transmitters, because it is always good to hear brand new hit musics not only from the ones you have downloaded but also you will not be bored to hear the same thing again shuffling from your gadgets.

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