iPod Radio Remote

One of the most requested features of the iPod, and a popular one on competing MP3 players, is a radio. Apple has elected to go for an external addition to the iPod rather than just adding a radio feature to the latest models. The Apple iPod Radio Remote costs £35, the same as the Griffin iFM that works in a similar way.

The Apple radio requires either one of the new iPods with video, or a nano (older iPods will need to use the iFM). One of the benefits of using the Apple product is the seamless integration with the iPod. For example, the controls are displayed on the screen with a digital dial that looks like a real radio. In theory the tuner should display RDS data, though I didn't have any luck with it on my iPod nano. It's more reliable when used with the iPod with video, judging by Apple's discussion boards. Using it is simple enough: favourite stations are marked out by holding down the centre button on the iPod, then stations can be navigated using the remote control.

When you get the Radio Remote it comprises the remote on a 85cm lead, and Apple earbuds on a shorter 38cm lead. Even with the shorter lead the total distance between iPod and headphones is more than a metre. If you want to use third-party headphones, or your original earbuds you'll have a serious surplus of wires.

The extra wires do serve some purpose; they act as an antenna for the radio. So it's not advisable to just coil them up, but you'll need to do something with them. The remote is on a clip, so you can attach it to a pocket or collar, which improves the tangle slightly.

The performance of any portable radio is a bit iffy, depending on where you are. If you're walking your dog in the open it will be fine, if you're on public transport or near bridges or tall buildings the signal fades from time to time. The good thing is that if you lose the signal at least you can listen to your iPod.


I had a mixed reaction to the iPod Radio Remote. It should work quite elegantly as the software is well designed, however, it was unreliable when it came to displaying RDS data on what channel you're tuned to. It's also disappointing that it isn't compatible with older iPods. It's a close call between this and the Griffin iFM, which has the additional ability to record radio, but lacks the RDS capabilities. But for those that must have Apple products, only the Radio Remote will do.

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