Mini Review: Griffin Technology’s USB iMic

I am a happy G4 450MHz Cube user and I use it even more these days since I got the freebie iSight camera at WWDC last month. Now, picture this: The sound coming out of my speakers is often heard to the other chatter’s speakers! I obviously needed a way to cancel the sound of my speakers, and the best way to do this would be to use headphones or use a special headset with a mic that cancels the general noise. Gotcha! The Cube doesn’t have audio jacks at all. Enter Griffin Technology’s iMic.The iMic is a small USB device for both PCs and Macs, but you might find it especially useful on Macs or uber-light PC laptops that lack audio jacks or a good microphone (you don’t wanna go too close to the laptop’s screen and starting shouting and spitting at it, now do you?). So in short, the iMic is a universal audio adapter that adds a stereo input and output and it supports both line and Mic level input as well as line level output.

iMic The iMic is a slick device, it does not take a lot of space at all, and is in perfect harmony with the recent Mac looks. And its best feature is that it is portable and easy to install elsewhere, as you most probably won’t need any drivers to use it with recent OSes. I have both a Cube and a 12″ Powerbook, so I can use it on all these devices, plus our 10.4″ SONY Vaio laptop which also lacks a Line-In jack. By being external, the iMic does not have all this “static noise” that you generally get from a sound card sitting inside a computer next to many other boards.

Tests conducted with my 12″ Powerbook’s microphone left a lot to be desired as the noise was not helping to get a crystal clear sound. Using a better headset and with the use of the iMic, I got most desired results. While my headset’s microphone was better than the Powerbook’s, I must say that I found iSight’s microphone even better than both my headset’s and the Powerbook’s.

Griffin Technology is pitching the product for additional uses, like recording, digitizing your LPs and tapes and DJ’ing with your laptop. While the device is not of super high quality as the one found on expensive pro sound cards, it does the job very well for what it is advertised for, it is portable, compatible and looks… good.

The company claims that it is “using the best USB audio codec (compressor/de-compressor) available.” Apparently, the iMic uses a codec used in the professional USB audio solutions that cost many times more. The iMic is available for $35 on retail channels.

Pros: Light, portable, slick, does the job as advertised.
Cons: Wouldn’t mind a joystick or an extra USB port in it.
Rating: 9/10


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