Review: Nyko Universal Car Mount
Pros: A highly affordable iPod car mount that lives up to its universal name; properly holds full-sized and mini iPods in well-designed cradle, mounts on varying vehicles with adjustable clips or adhesive, both of which are included. Compatible with car chargers, as well.
Cons: Looks a bit younger in design than the more expensive custom mounts we love, not especially adjustable in viewing or access angle when installed.
The only problem with Nyko’s decision to release an iPod accessory called the Universal Car Mount ($29.99) is the natural disbelief it inspires: it can’t really be universal, right? It probably doesn’t work with some iPod, or with some car? Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised with the answers to both questions: it’s a highly compatible and well-built iPod mounting accessory.
As with Nyko’s other recently introduced iPod accessories, the Universal Car Mount looks simple but includes some smart design twists. It’s a mostly clear plastic cradle with enough physical space to accommodate any full-sized or mini iPod, even including thicker first-generation iPods and recent 60GB iPod photos. White spring-loaded clips stabilize the iPod’s vertical position by locking into place as you push them towards an iPod’s sides, and soft padding on their insides prevents iPod scratching. A button on the Mount’s top releases the iPod clips. In our testing, the clips worked perfectly to stabilize iPods and always popped off without an issue when we tested the release button.
One padded plastic rear spacer also adjusts to stabilize various thicknesses of iPods within the Mount, pushing them gently towards the front, and thereby moving their Dock Connector ports into alignment with a reasonably-sized hole on the bottom of the cradle. Inside the cradle, your iPod can easily connect to bottom-mounting accessories such as car chargers. Two more white rear pads prevent thicker iPods from touching the rear plastic surface; the only surface not to include any padding is the cradle’s bottom. This didn’t prove to be a problem in our testing, though it wouldn’t have been bad to include a pad just for the scratch-squeamish.
Overall, the iPod-holding cradle is a significant improvement on generic Radio Shack and similar cell phone mounts we’ve tried as ad hoc iPod holders. It fits perfectly and securely regardless of the full-sized or mini iPod you’re using, and doesn’t block off the iPod’s sides or front visually. Just don’t expect to use it with the iPod shuffle; the Dock Connector hole is large enough for even a rubber-encased shuffle to fall through. Nyko’s other significant development is the Mount’s rear. We were initially suspicious that it might not work with at least one of our test vehicles, as the Mount includes two rubber-coated metal clips that attach to the air vents of a car. Many of the mounting solutions we’ve seen clip only to horizontal air vent slats, but Nyko’s clips are adjustable: you can space them as close or as far apart from one another as your car needs, and also turn them 90 degrees to become vertical slat clips. Because of gravity, they’ll need to anchor on something in your air vent - likely horizontal slats hidden inside your vents - but they worked without any problem when we tested them.
Nyko also includes an adhesive pad for those whose vehicles lack compatible air vents, and/or have a better flat surface for mounting. We’re not fans of adhesive mounting solutions, but Nyko’s decision to include quality 3M backing is a fair one for people who can’t get the clips to work. Sliding the cradle on and off of the plastic adhesive and clip pads isn’t difficult, so you can pop the cradle off of one in one vehicle and onto the other in another vehicle, if you like to switch your iPod’s location. Once attached to your car, the result isn’t as pretty as the ProClip custom mounts we’ve tested: the clear and white plastic is a bit younger-looking, and hangs on at a mostly unadjustable straight-on angle rather than looking professionally suspended. But then, ProClip’s mounts are roughly twice the price of Nyko’s offering, and vehicle-specific; buy one and it’s only going to go into a single car, whereas the Universal Car Mount can follow you to at least two vehicles.
Most people will be very satisfied with the look, positioning, and overall stability of the Mount, even relative to Griffin’s iSqueez (formerly PodPod), which was a pretty good universal solution before. We took Nyko’s product over bumps, through quick turns, and on typical streets without any shake or sign of instability. It worked as promised, and we were pleasantly surprised. For $29.99, it’s hard to go wrong with the Universal Car Mount. We’ve previously been reluctant to highly recommend any universal mounting product for various reasons, but this one definitely deserves our high recommendation. It only suffers slightly by comparison with mounting solutions twice its price, which we think is a clear sign that it will prove very popular with iLounge readers.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.