Griffin Technology have been a long term manufacturer of iPod accessories. They rose to fame through the iTrip radio transmitter, and have been increasing their product line-up ever since. They recently adopted the ‘Made for iPod’ branding, working with Apple to create certified accessories.
My first impressions of the iTalk were relatively positive. It fits in very well with the design and aesthetics of the iPod itself. I was testing it with a 15gb 3rd generation iPod, and it looked great. One negative I would definitely point out is that the silver covering over the speaker on the front is very shiny. This looks slightly out of place, as it is facing forwards. It contrasts with the simple, elegant white front of the iPod.
Setting up the iTalk was so incredibly simple, I was amazed. I received a standalone product, with no CD’s, drivers, manuals etc. Me being me, I dived straight in and plugged it into my iPod. It worked straight away. Upon plugging it in, the iPod activates an inbuilt ‘Voice Memos’ extra (which I had not know previously existed). This allows you to simply start and stop recordings, pause them halfway through and playback ones you have already taped.
The interface consists of a large digital display telling you how long the recording has lasted for, the word ‘Recording’ pulsing below as the iTalk works and a red LED on the iTalk device itself to inform you that a recording is being taken. It sticks to Griffin’s minimalist but high quality approach. After it has recorded, the message is stored in the Voice Memo section of the ‘Extras’ menu. When you then plug your iPod into your Mac, iTunes informs you that you have new Voice Memos waiting to be transferred. You can choose to copy them to your iTunes music library, and a new playlist is created to store them.
The only slight downside is that once this process has occured, the recordings are then removed from the ‘Voice Memos’ section of the iPod. It would have been a nice touch to leave them there for future reference. However, they can still be accessed on the iPod from the aforementioned playlist.
The main function of the iTrip is to record your voice, which it does very well. The audio quality is excellent, and it picks up talking from a reasonable distance away. However, the iTalk also functions as a small speaker for your iPod (both for playing back audio recordings and your music). I must admit that I was hoping for a decent speaker facility on this device, and I was a little disappointed. Although it does provide audio playback, it is really quiet. Even with the volume of the iPod turned completely to the top, the iTalk kicks out a barely loud enough signal to hear. Considering the speaker takes up such a large part of the device (at least it appears to), it is decidedly under par.
Finally, the iTalk offers an audio pass-through, and a microphone input (both through the same hole!?). This allows you to plug an external microphone into your iPod, meaning you could even plug a guitar in there and record some inspiration on the move.
I think that the iTalk is an excellent piece of kit. It integrates with the iPod itself seamlessly – both in terms of design and software. It’s also incredibly easy to record, playback and transfer your babblings to your Mac/PC. Although I was disappointed with the iTalk’s speaker, that it certainly not it’s main purpose. If you are interested, you can view more information on Griffin’s website, or purchase the iTalk through their store. The iTalk costs around $40.00, and works with the iPod Photo, 4th Generation iPod with Click Wheel and the 3rd Generation iPod with touch wheel and button.