Review: ProClip Adjustable Holder with Pass-Through Connector for iPhone + iPod touch
Over the years, we've continued to be fans of ProClip's various deluxe car mounting solutions for iPods and iPhones, but there have been limits: on occasion, the company's car mounts have been so expensive by comparison with competitors' alternatives that we've been uncomfortable recommending them generally to our readers. Its latest and greatest product, the $100 Adjustable Holder with Tilt-Swivel and Pass-Through Connector, is one of those mounts: functional and useful, it's also so expensive that you can actually buy a complete iPod or iPhone charging, mounting, and audio-out accessory for less.
What the Adjustable Holder does is simple on the surface: it lets you car mount an encased iPhone or iPod touch on top of a male Dock Connector, with a female Dock Connector port on the bottom to connect to your favorite auto accessory. Neither of these features is trivial: ProClip uses thumbscrews to create a nicely adjustable bracket to hold iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPod touch or iPod touch 2G models in place almost regardless of the case you’re using, and this works; so too does the Dock Connector, which passes power, audio, and video through to the accessory you’re using. That video point deserves to be underscored: the Holder does work with the latest Apple and third-party AV cables. These parts do exactly what they’re supposed to do.
As with all of ProClip’s mounts, however, the $100 Adjustable Holder isn’t the only part you’ll need to buy. You also need to purchase a vehicle-specific bracket from the company for an additional $30, and then connect the two parts using a Philips head screwdriver and a set of included screws—a five- or ten-minute process. Once that’s done, you install the bracket in a designated spot in your vehicle by using included plastic prying tools to temporarily spread open parts of your dashboard, and optionally use adhesive pads included with the car mount. The result is an iPhone or iPod mount that typically rests somewhere near an air vent, close enough to eye level. A ball joint in the back of the mount provides “tilt-swivel” functionality to let you put the iPhone or iPod touch on its side, or just tweak its angle for easier viewing.
So the good news is this: if you’re willing to spend the $130 on this solution, you’ll get a mount that fits your specific vehicle to a T and holds your iPod or iPhone even when it’s inside of a case. The bad news is that you’ll still need to shell out for both a charger and an audio-out solution of some sort, the prices for which start at around $25 and climb up to $60 or $70, depending on the product. In other words, going with this solution puts you at someplace between $155 and $200, an insanely high price given the many other options we’ve tested—too much, in our view, for the functionality offered. Kensington offers a “do it all” solution called LiquidAUX Deluxe for encased mounting, charging, and line-out, complete with a remote control, for $100. Griffin has a similar $80 product called TuneFlex Aux, while both it and Belkin offer $100 FM transmitter equipped versions called RoadTrip for iPhone and TuneBase FM for iPhone and iPod, respectively.
All of these alternatives have the same general benefits and caveats. They all cost less while offering power and audio functionality that the ProClip solution is missing. In some vehicles, they’ll significantly cut down on the amount of cabling that’s visible from the bottom of the mount to your car stereo. But they all have the disadvantage of mounting lower than the Adjustable Holder—a few inches above wherever the nearest cigarette lighter power port is in your car. This means that you’ll need to look and reach downwards to access the screen of your iPhone or iPod touch. Frankly, for $55-$100 less, our gut feeling is that most users won’t mind doing that one bit. Many users will be entirely fine with an even less sophisticated vent mount such as DLO’s $25 VentMount or Kensington’s $30 Car Mount, though they’ll give up the persistent Dock Connector cable holding feature ProClip’s design offers.
Having said all of that, if you’re willing to pay the premium for its functionality, there’s no doubt that the Adjustable Holder offers the most vehicle-specific mounting solution currently out there, and that its Dock Connector passthrough design does what it’s supposed to do. We wouldn’t call it bad—the mark of our D rating—or discourage you from buying it if you have plenty of extra cash to burn. At some point, however, accessories just stop making sense to us based on their prices, and we find them difficult to generally recommend to our readers over more capable or more reasonably priced alternatives. If it was half as expensive, we’d find the Adjustable Holder worth considering, but as-is, it’s only an okay option overall.