I have spent the last couple of months attempting to find the perfect iPhone Car integration kit. I was looking for a solution that would work with an iPhone 3G with InCase Slider case, but wasn’t sure such a kit existed. I’m happy to report that I see a light at the end of the tunnel. The solution works with the Incase or for that matter any hardshell case.
It amazes me that there is almost no solutions out there for a dock that will charge and pass-through audio. There are a couple that are close including the Kensington Liquid AUX Deluxe and the Griffin TuneFlex AUX SmartClick. Both the Griffin and Kensington offer a unit that is a dock, mounted to a flex cable that attaches to your lighter socket. Each will charge the iPhone and pass audio through it at the accessories connector, and each come with a steering wheel mountable remote.
The Kensington is not ideal for those currently using a cassette adapter, since the AUX plug is male only, and you would need a 3.5 mm female to female connector. Plus, reviews on seem decidedly mixed. The Griffin has much better reviews, but the few complaints that are out there are widely varied as far as what went wrong.
Neither will accept an iPhone in a case. Ideally, I want my iPhone as close to the top of the dash as possible. This means less time my eyes are off the road, better GPS reception, and easier to reach if needed (as in music control or call answer).
So I looked at the next version down of each. Reviews seem consistent with their higher priced counterparts. The Kensington has the standard Liquid AUX and it has a remote, while Griffin only has the Auto Pilot. The Kensington is virtually the same thing without the dock and flex cable, while the Griffin version is even more basic. The Griffin Looks a lot like their PowerJolt, but has buttons on the front of it for Play/Pause, forward and reverse; and an AUX in on the side with hi/low setting switch.
One of the most common complaints for either unit is engine noise coming thought the audio. This is actually no fault of the manufactures of the devices as much as it is of the auto manufacturers. Improper grounding can lead to engine noise which sounds like a high whirring sound through the speakers. A very easy solution is a ground loop isolator, which can range from $5- $25 depending on which model you get. I bought one for safety’s sake, and it turns out I didn’t need it since I was running through the cassette adapter. I purchased one through Amazon for $15. Because I am eventually going to try and hook up a AUX out adapter, I’m holding on to it.
Now as I just said, I am one of those individuals that doesn’t have the AUX out in my car stereo. I have a factory BOSE system that apparently, nobody makes compatible iPhone/iPod integration units for it. I have to have my audio pass through a cassette adapter in order to play through my system. So as this was one of the major factors in my decision as to which to buy (price was also a big factor). In the end, I opted for the Griffin Auto Pilot.
- Charges anytime the car is on.
- Remembers where your song was when the car turns off and resumes when you start the car and hit play. Does not drain the phone battery if you leave it in the car connected. This was a common complaint about the Kensington units. From what I can tell, when those unit are turned off, they don’t stop the iPhone/iPod from playing, so it wears the battery down.
- It’s simple to operate and install.
- Cheap! Amazon.com $19.99 from discount jungle. The Kensington model is around $75.
- Does what it says – with one exception. (see the cons).
- Not made for iPhone. Yup, that dreaded “This Accessory is not made for use with the …”. I was warned about this from the Griffin rep I was emailing back and forth with. He said that the message was unavoidable until Apple finished the approval process. I don’t know how it’s going to suddenly change short of an update, but whatever. It actually doesn’t bother me in the least.
So I have one piece to the puzzle, but still looking for a dock. I decided on the Dice Dock which allows me to alter it and was priced right. I ordered a week ago and just received notice it had shipped. In the meantime, I have been using a Bracketron universal mount. It was $9.99 at Best Buy (check over in the car audio dept.), and it actually fits my 3G with the case, so I am pretty happy with it, even though I want an actual dock.
My quest while moving forward is far from complete. I’m going to stop here and update as soon as I have everything hooked up. Check back for photos of the install. Have a solution that’s working for you? Let me know in the comments.