REVIEW: Griffin SmartDeck Save Lives?

Posted by:
Date: Monday, November 28th, 2005, 00:34
Category: Review

Griffin SmartDeckHow many people do distracting things like using their iPod while driving? C’mon, you know who you are! How many people still have a cassette player in their car? Enough. How many people don’t have a auxiliary input jack available on their head unit? Most, especially those with a cassette head unit. How many people have serious problems with interference and sound quality using an FM transmitter to get iTunes music to their car stereo? Tons, especially in major urban areas. How many people have US$30 to spend on in-car iPod connectivity?
Read More…


Griffin SmartDeckHow many people do distracting things like using their iPod while driving? C’mon, you know who you are! How many people still have a cassette player in their car? Enough. How many people don’t have a auxiliary input jack available on their head unit? Most, especially those with a cassette head unit. How many people have serious problems with interference and sound quality using an FM transmitter to get iTunes music to their car stereo? Tons, especially in major urban areas. How many people have US$30 to spend on in-car iPod connectivity?
Depending on your answers to these questions, the Griffin SmartDeck may be for you. The SmartDeck is an iPod cassette adapter for your car that gives you some control over your iPod via the cassette transport functions already built into your head unit. You may have even forgotten how to use them if you haven’t played a cassette in a few years.
The principal is simple. A cassette adapter mates up to the tape head in your in your cassette player and transmits the audio from your iPod via a wire hanging out of the cassette door. There are plenty of cassette adapters out there and they are a cheap and inelegant solution to sending your iPod music into your sound system. The Griffin SmartDeck is, well, smarter than the run of the mill cassette adapter.
The one I tested plugs into iPods with remote connectors. A new one is coming with a dock connector for all click-wheel iPods including the nano and mini. The SmartDeck adjusts the audio level automatically before sending it to the tape head in your car. The audio quality is outstanding. Press the fast forward or reverse buttons on your cassette player and it will either move forward or backward by one song or fast forward or reverse through a song. You can choose the mode via a switch on the adapter.
The problem I had was with the delay. The fast forward must be on between five and ten seconds to advance to the next song and there is no audio feedback, just the sound of the cassette deck spinning. When set to fast forward through a song, there is also no audio feedback and without looking at the iPod screen, it is difficult to know where you are in the song. Hit play/pause and your iPod will play or pause. If you eject the SmartDeck adapter to listen to the radio, your iPod will pause.
This adapter does not charge your iPod and there is an ugly white wire coming out of your (presumably) black cassette deck, but it might save a life by stopping you from trying to fast forward the iPod sitting on the seat next to you while driving. Presumably the manufacturer of your car placed the head unit in a good location and the controls are designed to be operable while driving. The SmartDeck is a little slow in the smarts department, but if you meet all the criteria, don’t even think about spending less than US$30 for a dumb cassette adapter. (Contributed by Bob Snow)

Recent Posts