June 29, 2009

Review: Griffin Navigate FM iPod Controller

I recently got a hold of a new product by Griffin Technology designed to fulfill a vertical niche in the iPod/iPhone user market. If you are an iPod or iPhone user looking to find a solution for:

1). FM capabilities
2). In-line Remote Function w/ Display
3). Adding some wire extension to your headphones while keeping your device tucked away out of harms way

Then the Griffin Navigate (MSRP $59, Amazon $39 Shipped) might be designed for you. As for me, I can see the appeal of having this inline remote clipped to my messenger back as I trek my way into the Big Apple for work every morning or keep my iPhone tucked away safely in my car's armrest utilizing the inline remote to navigate, however, I am not sure if I feel the same way after testing the device; simply put, it adds a bit more of chaos in exchange for small enhancement in features, I'll go over my thoughts feature by feature.

Griffin Navigate is an elegant piece of hardware that is light weight, compact and good looking. With a matching polished rim around its fascia, it matches up to an iPhone quite nicely. However, I find the build quality a little lacking. For instance, the little lock switch on top of the remote doesn't feel like it has a solid mechanism; the buttons on the remote can feel a bit flimsy and can they aren't level to one another (some feels recessed compared to others).

FM Capabilities: This function worked as promised which is an added bonus, however, because it draws its power from your iPod's battery, you'd be draining your device while using it, it would be nice to have a dedicated battery on device which can power itself or serve as a power reserve for the iPhone.

Inline Remote w/ Display: I must say, the OLED display on this remote is crystal clear, very cool! The remote itself does the function of selecting between FM->iPod->Playlist->Artist->EQ and more... The problem I have with the display is that it doesn't display the artist or song title while playing songs which renders the display kind of useless. This is not helpful if I have my iPhone or iPod tucked away in my bag or elsewhere. The back of the remote has a handy clip which can be useful to wear.

I would say that if your environment requires you to keep your iPod or iPhone out of sight and you want more control with some level of display info on an inline remote, this gadget is definitely for you. For the average Joes, this one might not be all that necessary.

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