Saturday, January 07, 2006

iTrippin' and Such

Show of hands, how many people have iPods?

OK, good. Now, show of hands, how may of you bought iTrip to listen to the iPods in your car?

A lot of you. OK, how many of you are happy with your iTrips?
anyone? anyone? Bueller? Oh, one in the back...the one with a hearing aid.

Basically, to sum up, iTrip SUCKS!!!

Here's my experience with it. I bought the iTrip mainly so I can listen to audio books on car trips, and also to listen to music on the trips without having to fumble around changing CD's while driving. When I'm out in the hinterlands, it works OK. Not great, but just OK. No matter where I am, there is a degree of static. But when I'm in a metropolitan area, or any area with more than 4 radio stations, forget it. If I want to keep listening, I need to use the earbuds. (And about those earbuds -- just WHOSE ears do those things fit anyway???? They are HUGE!)

The other night, a friend and I had a discussion about the suckiness of iTrip. The next day at work, a co-worker and I had a similar discussion.

Today, I was at the Apple store to purchase an iHome with gift cards I'd received for Christmas. I've attempted to use the iTrip with my home stereo and, it sucks even more than in the car. Lots of static. I'm thinking the iHome would be a good idea.

So, I was standing in a l-o-n-g line at the Apple store and become aware of conversation behind me about iTrip. A guy my age was there with his son and they are talking to a clerk about how the iTrip sucks. The clerk said that it's a good product, it just depends on your car stereo and some of THOSE aren't good.

He was blaming the suckiness of the iTrip on the car stereo. Oh. Do. Not. EVEN!!

I turned around and said to the dad, "I have iTrip and it sucks. I know two other people who think the same." Then I told the clerk, "Three different cars, Saturn, Accura and Eldorado. iTrip sucks in each one."

The dad said he has two Eldorado's and it sucks in each one of those and in his son's Cavalier.

A guy further up in line spoke up. "I'm returning my iTrip because it sucks. I drive a Lexus."

He glanced at the woman behind him and saw she was holding an iTrip and a receipt. Then he said, "How many people here are returning iTrips?"

Four other hands went up.

One woman said she was going to exchange hers for one that had its own antenna.

A young man in line said he was returning one of those as it has as much static as the regular iTrip.

I glanced over at the display case and saw two people holding iTrips and watching all of this. A clerk quickly ran over to them and started giving them some spiel I couldn't hear.

I asked the now very uncomfortable clerk over by us which car adapter had the least complaints. He said the kind that works with cassette players. The guy who had asked how many people were returning iTrips got somewhat upset at that.

"Wait a minute!" He said. Then he turned to the rest of us, "How many people drive cars with cassette players?" Two of us raised our hands. OK, my car is 8 years old. He turned back to the clerk. "That's why they have fewer complaints, not as many people have those any more!"

The clerk assured us that using the cassette adapter got better sound with the iPod. I spoke up. "So basically, people with lower technology in their cars get better sound with their high tech iPods."

You could tell the clerk was having a sucky day and wanted to go home. One of the guys in line said, "It's not your fault, but just pass it on to whomever that your customers arent' fond of it."

Later, I was finally home with my iHome and getting it hooked up. Here's something I don't understand. In this digital age, smaller is better. Why does that not apply to AC adapters and power cords? I've ranted previously about power cords, so I'll just say that this one has the largest adapter yet. It takes up THREE spots on my powerstrip.

All I want is to be able to listen to my iPod at home. I can spend a ridiculous amount of money on speakers to accomplish this, but I already have some good Boston speakers that are hooked up to my stereo. I want to figure out how I can use those without sinking more money into speakers. But I do like the idea of this iHome and after I get the speaker thing figured out, I'll move it into my bedroom.

So, right now, I have this going on:

That's right, my iHome is sitting on top of one of my unused Boston speakers. And as I look at it, I just now realized the speaker is upside down. Huh.

Anyway, I've been doing some online research, and in order to do what I want to do, I need to get a receiver. I'm done spending money for the time being. I mean, it's either a new receiver or heat the house. I'm going with heating the house.

UPDATE: I've received some feedback, and read even more reviews and apparently, the cassette adapter does provide quality sound from your iPod through the car speakers. The cost for the adapter is around $20.00. For those whose car has a CD player, the best option seems to be something like the iPod2Car. It costs between $175.00 to $210.00.

I'm SO glad my car still has a cassette player!


southerngirl said...

Hi, Sly....

Ok, so I've never even admitted this to anyone before...I don't even know what an Ipod is. Really, I don't. But thanks to you, now I know that should I ever learn what it is, and consider purchasing one, I would not do well to get an Itrip. Whatever that is.

*thanks the deity of my choice for being technology STUPID*

See ya! :)

Slyeyes said...

Southerngirl; I LOVE my iPod. I listen to it on the bus to and from work; and plug it into my computer speakers at work and listen to it there and now I can listen to it at home. I have over 1,000 songs on it and have set up different song lists, jazz, rock, etc. and can vary my lists according to my moods;and listen to audio books on it. It's just the iTrip that stooooooooopid.

Jeff Meyerson said...

For once I'm glad to be LTTG as I haven't even considered an iTrip. And thanks for the warning, Sly.

Southerngirl: what Sly said. I (heart) my iPod (except for those giant ear buds). I have 2348 songs on it. You can also play all songs by composer if you want, or several different versions of the same song, or lots of other stuff.

It's great.

Eleanor said...

I'm glad I don't go anywhere so the Itrip is one less thing I have to worry about - whew! I love iTunes though and download lots of songs to my computer, but having said that, I don't think iTunes is anything at all like iPod or iTrip -
oh, well.....

Eleanor said...

p.s. My daughter gave my son an iPod for Hanukkah. He wasn't too excited about it at first, but now he thinks it's the greatest: "It's like having a radio station that only plays music you love."

Slyeyes said...

El, that's exactly what it is. And instead of taking a couple of CD's to work and finding out you're in the mood for something you've left at home, you've got all of your music with you.

I've also downloaded a number of podcasts from iTunes. You might like Al Franken's and Sit Down Comedy with David Steinberg. Plus, they are free.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I love iTunes though and download lots of songs to my computer, but having said that, I don't think iTunes is anything at all like iPod or iTrip -
oh, well.....

Wrong, El, it is intimately related! (I said 'intimately'.) IPod owners use iTunes to download the songs to the computer, just as you do, then transfer them from the computer to the iPod.

Austin said...

I have an iTrip and it sucks! You really need a Radio that has a Line In that you can use in your car.

Kafaleni said...

okay.. my brother and BIL and a good friend all have iTrips.. and they've always worked perfectly every time I've heard them. D (my brother) LOVES his iTrip and wouldn't go anywhere without it. His car only has a CD player, so that hasn't made any difference to him. If I could get one, I would.

Then again, I don't know if any of this counts because I don't live in the US.

wysiwyg said...

Ok. Its time I came out of the closet. I bought an iPod last week.


I *swore* I would never buy anything from Apple, EVER (a unfortunate carry-over from my anti-Apple Macintosh religious zealotry), but I finally wore down.

And anyway I always wanted to know what Sly meant when said all that time ago that she had to go home and "spend time stroking her iPOD", or words to that effect.

Sadly for the finances, when a pent up technology purchase finally happens I tend to go a tad over the top. So I now own an 60gb iPOD (you can never have enough disk space), about 40gb already consumed on the PC (will have to look at a disk upgrade) to store songs, and I'm spending endless hours loading music CDs and sorting out play lists instead of playing with my children.

And yes, occassionally I actually listen to the thing when taking the dog for walks.

ANYWAY, re the iTrip. Don't know anything about it. BUT I did buy a similar after-market device that tunes into your car FM station. Works like a charm - that's basically because (a) the whole contraption plugs straight into the car cigarette lighter and has an iPOD cradle in it that doubles as a holder for the iPOD itself as well as a charger for it, and (b) you can tune it to whatever FM channel you like, which means you can pick the obscure ends of the FM spectrum to avoid local radio stations.

No static, no cross-talk with other radio stations, excellent sound quality (presumably because it has a fairly powerful transmitter).

I'll get the brand for you and post it here tomorrow.

As to the iHome. Bleech - at least from the look of it. The OTHER afer-market device I got was a thing that plugs into a spare input of your existing stereo, and to a power point. It features a little cradle that the iPOD sits in to charge it up and transfer the sound to the stereo. It even has a little remote control that allows you to twiddle the volume up and down and fast forward or back track the current playlist.

I'll post the details of that tomorrow as well.

Another tip - go hunt through e-Bay for ipod bits. There's lots of cases and so forth, but a few other gems in there as well. One I have ordered is a carry case with a little speaker in it so I don't HAVE to use the stoopid Apple ear-buds (motto: so large the Jolly Green Giant has to struggle with them). You can also get the iPOD cassette interface thingy there as well if you don't like my solution (or how much it cost).

So the overall picture is (so the theory goes): iPOD into carry pouch in the morning to walk the dog using stoopid ear buds (will have to work on a replacement for those), transfer to the car sound system thingy, drive to work listening to normal car stereo, use the little speaker case for listening at work, back into car on the way home, pop into home stereo cradle thingy to listen to music at home through crap home stereo speakers that ONE DAY I'll get permission to upgrade to something half decent.

Voila! as the French say (which is "boil ya (bum)" if you say it very quickly so the English don't notice....)

wysiwyg said...

BTW sorry for the long post.

I have a lot of pent-up posting to deal with as well....

Slyeyes said...

Wys and Kaf, the airwaves in New Zealand and Australia may not be as crowded as ours, so that may make a difference. Finding an "empty" station in the St. Louis area is tricky; especially since our car stereos are set up to "skip" over the static.

I get better reception when outside of the metropolitan area, and then have trouble again when I approach Kansas City. But it's still not great. There's still a loss of sound quality. I'm going to go with the cassette adapter.

My current home stereo "system" (read "just a teensier bit fancier than a boom box") is low tech and doesn't allow a line in from the iPod. That's why I need a receiver to get things set up. I am happy with the iHome, for the time being.

Slyeyes said...

and Wys! Good to hear from you again!!

By the way, as far as the earbuds, I use the headphones from my Sony walkman. Works great and they are very comfortable.

I seriously want to know who at Apple thought those earbuds were a good idea.

Leetie said...

I also have an FM radio thingy, but it's for my portable XM radio in my car, and it works really well. Similar to Wys's, it plugs into the cigarette lighter, but it doesn't have infinite stations to choose. If I ever happen to encounter static, driving through a region that is using the station I'm broadcasting my XM on, I have 7 other stations to try. And I'm in the congested DC area and it still works great. In fact, I drove from DC to Savannah and back recently, and only had to change the station twice. JU got it for me on ebay.

Sarah O. said...


1. The iPod rocks.

2. The iTrip sucks.

I have purchased and returned about 500 iPod-to-car-recievers. OK, I gave up returning them after the 12th.

Eleanor said...

*waves hi to wysisyg*

wysiwyg said...

The car thingy and the home stereo thingy.

You're probably right about the cassette thingy, Sly. Not to mention you can pick them up on eBay for about $20 (or very likely less in the US). The main downside is you probably also need to invest in a charger for the car (which is a separate thingy and more wires rattling around). But since you have a car cassette, go for it.

Depending on your boom box, if it has a radio for example, you might be able to find some form of home transmitter/charger thingy (don't you love it when I talk technical?) that would enable you to operate it through the better speakers. If it has a cassette player you might be able to bring the car cassette thingy into the house and use it in the boom box.

As for the earbuds, I've always hated them regardless of the manufacturer. Maybe I have weird ears or something, but its a major fiddle to get them settled in correctly and then I have to keep taking one out to talk to the kids. I'm going to see if I can find a very lightweight set of normal headphones, perhaps a collapsable set that can travel better. I won't look as cool perhaps, but then I've always been a person that puts function over form.

*waves back to El*

Anonymous said...

I got an iPod for Christmas, and it's good to know that I don't have mutated ears. I thought something was wrong with me. I rubbed my ears raw trying to get them to stay in. Then I went out and bought these phones that sort of clip behind your ear. I like them much more, and they don't mess up my hair (more than it already is) like the regular headphones do.

I don't like how the only way you can charge it is through a USB port. I think the thing should have come with a regular adapter. I had to ride across the country, and the charge only lasted one day of the trip.

Slyeyes said...

Anonymous; it is odd that an adapter is not considered a standard item. But that way, Apple can charge an additional $30.00. Car chargers can cost slightly less.

We joke that with digital cameras and iPods, there is the initial cost of the device; and then an amount equal to that to buy what is needed to actually use the device.

Isabel said...

I bought my husband iTrip a few years ago and I think we used it once. Yep-it sucked. Never worked like we wanted it to.

I got his iHome for Christmas. Here's hoping it will be better for us.

Lisa said...

I had been thinking of getting an iPOd. Thanks for the info...

Susan said...

I love my iPod nano...had not heard of the iTrip though. I had a cassette adapter from a previous purchase of a portable cd player, and it worked just fine. (well, one minor problem. There is a apparently one little moving piece in it...and due to the age of the adapter it has developed a bit of a squeek. Like there is a little mouse in there on a squeeky exercise wheel powering it.) I got a car adapter (can't remember the brand) that will charge the iPod, and run it off the car battery so as not to run down its charge. That in and of itself was a worthwhile purchase.

Anonymous said...

Prior to reading this post, I had packed my iTrip back in its original packaging and put the package back in the Apple bag (with receipt). Intent is return to Apple for refund.

Now that I've read the post, I will make a sandwich to eat while I stand in the return line.