Review: ProClip Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel for iPhone
Now available in iPhone, iPod touch, and third-generation iPod nano versions, ProClip's Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel ($35) is one of the oldie but goodie iPod accessories, a design that we watched evolve from humbler roots into the premium car mount we review today. Briefly reviewed for the iPhone in our 2008 iPod + iPhone Buyers' Guide, we expand on the review today for all three models, which are identical to each other except for small tweaks to their sizes and shapes.
By “premium car mount,” we are referring both to features and pricing: the Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel is still part of the best series of iPod car mounts we’ve seen, but it’s not cheap. Unlike early ProClip Holders, which were made entirely from uncoated hard plastic, the Padded Holders are covered in a soft, velvet-like coating that won’t scratch even the polished rear surfaces of recent iPods. Recently made alternatives often use neoprene or soft rubber pads to prevent scratches, but ProClip’s option has the comparative benefit of visual consistency, with the consequence of a fuzzy look that mightn’t appeal to some people. We’ve never minded this, and have continued to be fine with the look despite changing vehicles a number of times over the years.
Left out of the company’s less deluxe $25 version of the Padded Holder, ProClip’s Tilt Swivel feature is a ball and socket system that lets you position the iPod for easier viewing wherever it’s mounted. You get 15 degrees of left, right, top or bottom tilt freedom to position the screen closer to straight-on for your face, and 360 degrees of swiveling freedom, the latter feature far more important to iPhone and iPod touch users than to other iPod owners. With the swiveling ball joint, you can easily turn the iPhone or iPod touch on its side, which though dangerous (and in some places possibly illegal) for in-car front seat video viewing while in motion, may otherwise be useful for Cover Flow music navigation and other purposes.
Not surprisingly, these three versions of the Padded Holder all fit their respective Apple devices perfectly. Each one provides full access to the iPod or iPhone’s bottom, without obstructing headphone or Dock Connector ports, speakers or microphones. They lack for only two good features ProClip previously introduced in nicer but higher-priced Holders: the ability to hold encased iPods, and the ability to hold a Dock Connecting car cable in place when the iPod was not in the Holder. These features added tremendously to prior models’ appeal, but also boosted their prices; we continue to wish that the company would integrate these features into a single deluxe mount at a reasonable price.
Considering that it looks right and works properly, pricing remains the Padded Holder’s only major issue. In addition to the device-specific holder, you also need a car-specific mounting plate that adds $30 to the price, bringing the total cost of ownership up to $65. Once these two pieces are selected, you join them together with included screws, install them in your car, and have a mounting solution unlike any other—one that fits your iPod or iPhone and your vehicle ideally, or near-ideally. Because the mount is placed in a spot in your car that it was specifically designed to fit, pressure alone is generally capable of keeping the mount completely firm as you drive, but an interior, not generally visible adhesive sticker is included to provide added stability where it’s necessary.
Frequent iPod or car upgraders may bemoan the mounts’ specificity—after all, you’ll need to buy another one if you change models—but in our experience, having the ability to mount a device without shaking or other issues in your car is worth some added expense over the filmsier agnostic mounts we’ve seen. It’s worth a brief note that Padded Holder’s pricing has fallen by a couple of bucks from what it was for fifth-generation iPods and iPod nanos, which is an appreciated, if not exactly huge change.
Overall, the Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel is a nice-looking, stable way to keep your iPhone or iPod within easy reach as you drive, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to all of our readers—the mark of a highly recommended product. Though it could stand to be a little less expensive or more fully featured for the same price, this version of the Padded Holder remains unrivaled in its ability to provide simple iPod screen and control access, as well as more advanced iPhone and iPod touch widescreen display abilities.