Review: Luxa2 H2 Mobile Holder for iPhone/iPod touch
Old, common man maxims such as "don't mess with what ain't broke" are somewhat antithetical to the theory of continuous improvement espoused by Apple, but there are times when that simple logic makes sense. Submitted for your consideration on that point is Luxa2's H2 Mobile Holder for iPhone/iPod touch ($30), a somewhat quixotic follow-up to the company's earlier and comparatively impressive H1-Touch. Last year, the computer cooling accessory company Thermaltake's Luxa2 division appeared to have the iPod and iPhone stand category figured out, but a series of confusing recent decisions -- including the release and subsequent re-pricing of the mediocre H2 -- have us wondering just what's going on at the Taiwanese company.
Though it wasn’t the perfect stand, H1-Touch brought a really smart new iPod- and iPhone-holding design to market: a spider-like set of adjustable arms that could easily grab Apple devices of different sizes, even including ones inside cases. It also included a rotating, pivoting system that enabled iPods and iPhones to change orientations with ease, which combined with the arms to keep iPod touch and iPhone models firmly inside even as they were held on otherwise precarious angles. In short, it “just worked,” and did so under impressively variable conditions. Thermaltake also used nice aluminum with some chrome and crystal touches to form an iMac-like base for the mount, with small cosmetic glitches that detracted only a little from the design.
H2 keeps the aluminum base and pivoting system, but loses the adjustable arms in favor of a big black plastic pad that—like Allsop’s Clingo accessories—is supposed to hold iPhones and iPods in place using a new non-sticky adhesive technology. The company was apparently so confident in this new mounting solution that it didn’t even put edges on the pad: it is attached to the base with a flat piece of aluminum that does nothing more than enable the pad to tilt and rotate with Luxa2’s special hinge. On a positive note, it looks elegant and simple, a cleaner design than the arm-laden H1-Touch.
There might be a need for a longer review and description of Luxa2’s use of the adhesive material if it actually worked, but in our testing, H2 did a terrible job of holding iPod touches and iPhones in place: whatever it’s using would have been better at holding devices if it was a plain old piece of tape. It was so bad that our devices routinely fell right off of H2 after different but generally brief periods of tenuous attachment, the sort of obvious but serious problem that should have been addressed at the design, manufacturing, or testing stages, but wasn’t. The photos here show the pad working, but we could have easily taken many more photos with motion blurs as the attached iPods and iPhones slipped away. Our very rare F rating—issued to only a few accessories in iLounge’s nearly nine-year history—is based on the fact that H2 failed in its core purpose of mounting an iPod touch or iPhone without causing us to fear possible damage. While it’s entirely possible that H2 will do better with flat-backed devices such as the iPhone 4 than it did with curved-back iPhone 3G/3GS and iPod touch models, we’ve seen devices fall off of H2’s “mount” and hit the tabletops or floors below, and wouldn’t want to take a risk on the glass-bodied iPhone 4, either.
Finally, there’s the issue of H2’s pricing. Our reviews and ratings are based in part upon comparative value for the dollar, and the vast majority of accessory companies we’ve dealt with over the years have set prices and then stuck to them, dropping them over time. By comparison, Thermaltake/Luxa2 has recently been playing pricing games with its products that have made us uncomfortable. When H2 arrived for testing, Luxa2 gave it a $50 price tag and hiked the price of the H1-Touch to $60—a change that simultaneously reduced our enthusiasm for H1-Touch and struck us as just plain ridiculous for H2. At some later point, the company dropped H2 to $30 while leaving H1-Touch at $60, and who knows what will happen in the future. Based on the performance of our H2 review unit, however, we wouldn’t consider buying it at any price, and H1-Touch is now a little too expensive for the simple functionality it’s offering. We’ve taken the rare step of downgrading H1-Touch’s rating based on this post-release change, and think that it might be a good idea to hold off on the Luxa2 mounts until Thermaltake works out the kinks in its pricing and manufacturing processes.