Review: Griffin RoadTrip with SmartScan for iPhone

Having my entire music library in my car through the use of my iPhone is one of the best things I love about the device. Phone, iPod, Internet, all connected in car. The problem here is that not every vehicle has an auxiliary out to connect an audio cable. Well allow me to introduce the Griffin RoadTrip.

RoadTrip with SmartScan by Griffin

What is the Griffin RoadTrip with SmartScan?

The RoadTrip is the all-in-one car solution for your iPhone. A premium FM transmitter and car charger that lets you access your entire music library using your in-car FM stereo. The RoadTrip includes no wires and is very much focused on elegant design that is just as beautiful as it is functional.

The RoadTrip is a single accessory that plugs into your car DC outlet (cigarette lighter). From there is an attached flexible steel neck that ends at a cradle that will hold your iPhone. This cradle is where you will tune into an FM radio station using tactile controls and a bright screen. The cradle also acts as a remote for your iPhone, as you can pause, play and skip music without ever touching the iPhone.

The flexible steel neck is easy to adjust and actually stays in place, but I found it difficult to angle it in certain ways. The neck seems to very much prefer being upright. While a small gripe, it is worth noting because without enough of an angle, you risk your safety by always having to look down or at odd angles to access your iPhone.

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SmartScan and Easy Setup

The technology built into the RoadTrip, namely the SmartScan, is extremely convenient. With most FM transmitters, you need to find the FM station yourself and then program it into the accessory. This is not the case with the Griffin RoadTrip.

The RoadTrip, using SmartScan, searches the radio stations for you, finds the three clearest frequencies, automatically programs those frequencies to preset buttons on the accessory and then automatically selects the best of the three for your in-car broadcast to your radio. Amazing.

But as amazing as SmartScan is, you also have the option of using your own custom presets. While both options will end at a similar result, doing it yourself just requires more work than is necessary.

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Sound Quality

The sound quality is as expected from an FM transmitter. Once you find a clear station that has minimal static, all you hear is your music. However, because the music is broadcasting over the radio, there were times when the sound would fade out (radio loses signal) and static would emerge, but it quickly restores to normal.

The one thing to note is that you do lose a lot of bass with FM transmitters, so if bass is important to you, I would recommend an alternative solution for in-car audio from an iPhone (or other Apple device).

However, I did find what I consider to be a bonus feature with the RoadTrip. On the side of DC connection is a Auxiliary jack for audio/video cables. I was thrilled when I found this. This port allowed me to connect a 3.5mm audio cable to my car stereo aux-in jack for perfect, bass-filled, clear sound.

While this does not benefit those who do not have an aux-in jack, it is a great benefit for those that do as now you get perfect sound with an elegant cradle that also charges your iPhone.

This same jack on the RoadTrip can also be used for video playback if you have a media center screen in your vehicle. Instead of an audio cable though, you will need an A/V cable and you can watch all of your videos from your iPhone in your car!

RoadTrip Car

RoadTrip for the whole family

But the RoadTrip is not just for the iPhone. The package includes cradle adapters for the following Apple devices:

  • iPhone
  • iPhone 3G/3GS
  • iPod Touch
  • iPod Touch (second generation)
  • iPod Nano (second, third, fourth generation)
  • iPod Classic 80GB/120GB

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Main features of the Griffin RoadTrip with SmartScan

  • FM Transmitter
  • Car Charger
  • Playback controls
  • Built-in Auxiliary jack for audio/video playback
  • Three presets with easy switching
  • Custom presets
  • SmartScan Technology
  • Mono/Stereo sound options with SmartSound Technology
  • Flexible Steel Neck for easy positioning
  • Elegant Design

Technical Specifications

  • Antenna: Built-in
  • Power: Provided by cigarette lighter or 12 volt power outlet (no batteries required)
  • RF Output Range, US: 88.1 MHz -107.9 MHz
  • Input Voltage Range: 12 รขโ‚ฌโ€œ 16 volts DC
  • Maximum Current: 2 amps
  • Output Voltage: 5 volts DC at 1 amp
  • Fuse Type: 2 amp blade-type automotive fuse

Where To Buy

The Griffin RoadTrip with SmartScan delivers the best in-car experience that molds both an FM transmitter and auxiliary jack. With an elegant design, easy setup and convenient playback controls, the RoadTrip is definitely a recommended accessory if you can swallow the price tag.

The Griffin RoadTrip with SmartScan is scored a 5 out of 5.

The Griffin RoadTrip with SmartScan is available on the Griffin Online Store for $99.99.

RoadTrip with SmartScan Now compatible with iPhone & iPhone 3G

Reports on iPhone news, reviews apps and accessories. Also an armed ninja with an iPhone 4S.

  • I've been using a Roadtrip for almost four years (first for my iPod and now for my iPhone). It is an excellent product IMHO. Last year I tested all the FM transmitters at Futureshop and found the Roadtrip to be the best for my particular car (i.e., a lot of people find VWs as quite FM transmitter unfriendly, while the Roadtrip provided a good, strong FM signal).
    I also recommend the Roadtrip because of the excellent customer service that you'll receive from Griffin. These guys/gals not only make some of the best accessories on the market, but the firmly stand behind their products.

  • Dusty

    Looks really good. Thx for the review.

  • I've used the Griffin RoadTrip for the past year or more, excellent product. The price is justified by the quality.

  • rorypiper

    What? No contest for this one?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I used an older version of the road trip, for my iPod, before I had the iPhone. It worked great. My Caliber has an auxilary jack, so I only need one in my work truck now.

    I found a cheap knock off of this at Canadian Tire, for $20. It's not nearly as pretty, but does the job.

  • We can't have contests for everything!

    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Dusty

    Booooooo! ๐Ÿ˜› lol

  • donaldsmiht

    I have the Griffin Road Trip, use it both with the FM transmitter to find weak stations, and also plug it in directly to my car radio with the AUX mini jack. It works extremely well. The only problem is that it is not sturdy. The cigar lighter does not hold it firmly enough, and the flexible steel neck wire starts to turn with usage or on winding roads. I was able to fix this by positioning two velco clips just beside the radio, gently but firmly wraping aroung the steel neck of the Road trip a metal close hanger (firm hanger but does bend fairly easily), I then bent two hooks on each end of this close hanger clip so they can clip easily onto the two velco clips. Now the device does not move at all and is perfectly attached. Everyone will probably need to do this if they drive on curving roads or rough roads. And it does not look ugly.

  • donaldsmiht

    I have the Griffin Road Trip, use it both with the FM transmitter to find weak stations, and also plug it in directly to my car radio with the AUX mini jack. It works extremely well. The only problem is that it is not sturdy. The cigar lighter does not hold it firmly enough, and the flexible steel neck wire starts to turn with usage or on winding roads. I was able to fix this by positioning two velco clips just beside the radio, gently but firmly wraping aroung the steel neck of the Road trip a metal close hanger (firm hanger but does bend fairly easily), I then bent two hooks on each end of this close hanger clip so they can clip easily onto the two velco clips. Now the device does not move at all and is perfectly attached. Everyone will probably need to do this if they drive on curving roads or rough roads. And it does not look ugly.