Review: ProClip Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel and Cable Attachment
Company: ProClip USA
Price: $50 (Padded Holder) + $30 (Dashboard Vehicle-Specific Mount)
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, 5G
Pros: An attractive padded iPod holder that, when mounted in your car, enables you to keep a Dock Connector cable permanently in place for one-step iPod car docking. Provides a highly professional-looking mounting solution.
Cons: Unlike company’s earlier, less expensive Adjustable mount, won’t let you use iPod inside of a case, an inconvenience for many users. Price premium over earlier version, identical but for the cable holder, is considerable, making total cost of ownership even higher than top 3-in-1 charging, mounting, and audio solutions.
Over the past couple of years, ProClip has impressively evolved the concept of premium in-car iPod mounts: it started by releasing all-plastic iPod holders that worked well, then moved on to even better velvet-covered “Padded” versions, and finally developed what’s still our gold standard - a Padded “Adjustable” Holder (iLounge rating: A) that safely mounts any full-sized iPod with or without its case still on. Virtually every one of the now numerous ProClip mounts works in the same way, requiring you to buy two pieces, namely the iPod holder ($25-60) and a vehicle-specific mount ($30), which are easily attached to each other with screws and mounted with pressure and/or adhesive in your car. As we’ve mentioned in more than a half-dozen ProClip reviews, this solution is typically more expensive than cheaper mounts we’ve seen, but both looks better and stays more firmly in place exactly where you want it than the other mounts out there.
ProClip has two challenges these days: innovation and competition. The Adjustable holder was superb, but tough to physically improve, so the company has opted to create new versions of its earlier, non-adjustable Padded Holder instead. This has split ProClip’s offerings into several different and increasingly confusing lines of iPod mounts, which don’t necessary improve in uniform ways as their prices go up. For instance, it is now selling certain holders that either include or enable you to permanently mount an iPod charging/audio cable, removing the “extra step” of manually connecting such a cable to the mounted iPod’s bottom. ProClip’s first charging holder (iLounge rating: B-) was its only major stumble, overpriced and including an integrated but nothing special iPod charger. Its latest mount is the Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel and Cable Attachment ($50), which tries a similar idea with somewhat better results. But as we’ve noted recently, it comes at a time when competing options, such as 3-in-1 iPod gooseneck mounts, chargers, and audio output devices such as TEN Technology’s $50 FlexibleDock (iLounge rating: A) are becoming more affordable and stable than ever, and thereby beginning to erode the need for pricier mounting solutions.
Unlike its charger-inclusive predecessor, the “Cable Attachment” version of Padded Holder takes a different tact: it includes a screw-on plate that holds almost any iPod car cable you purchase separately. Two versions of the Cable Attachment mount are sold, one that properly holds the classic oversized cable from Belkin’s popular Auto Kit, and the other made to hold Apple and Apple-sized cables. You unscrew the plate in your home. put the Dock Connector plug from the cable inside, then screw the plate back on, a process that takes less than 5 minutes. Finally, you attach the iPod holder to the car mount, and install them in your car, a process that generally takes under 10 minutes.
This creates a fully integrated mounting, charging, and audio solution that requires no special fidgeting to use once the initial installation has been done. The Dock Connector plug sits perfectly centered on the Holder’s bottom, so plugging your iPod into your car can become a one-step process: drop iPod into holder. It’s simple, and works with all full-sized iPods from the super-slim 30GB 5G iPod to the thicker 60GB 4G iPod, and everything inbetween.
There are only two problems: first, the price of this Holder is now $15 higher than the identical Padded version without the Cable Attachment mount, a considerable premium for a small new feature. Since you have to supply your own charger and audio-out device, which isn’t a trivial expense ($30-40), you’ll now be spending $110-120 to get what TEN’s FlexibleDock offers - albeit with a less prime car mounting position - for only $50. Second, this Holder lacks ProClip’s best-yet feature - the Adjustable body that lets you bring basically any encased iPod to your car and use it without pulling the case off - so while it decreases a minor cable-related inconvenience, it restores a major case-related one. The Adjustable version is cheaper, too. In other words, you’ll pay more for this mount than for either of two other versions, the Adjustable one that’s much, much more practical for people with iPod cases, and the earlier Padded one that’s only a little less convenient, requiring you to connect the cable yourself when you enter your car.
From where we stand, ProClip has yet another good mounting product on its hands, but as Steve Jobs demonstrated with his dramatic 1998-1999 distillation of the over-expanded Macintosh computer family into 4 core models, there’s value in a stronger, simpler line-up that steadily increases in both features and pricing. As its increasingly long, distinctive name suggests, Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel and Cable Attachment adds one new and certainly nice wrinkle to an existing family of mounting products that you’d now need a guide to fully understand. But rather than topping its predecessors on other features or pricing, it is a bit more expensive than most ProClip mounts, and a bit less convenient in a signficant way than the company’s best. It doesn’t help that it comes at a time when competing solutions are offering better values and features than ever before. For these reasons, the Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel and Cable Attachment is recommendably good, but not a breakthrough like some of its more notable predecessors.