Company: ProClip USA
Price: $29.95, $59.99 respectively
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G, iPod photo
ProClip Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel and Charging Cable
Pros: An attractive, sturdy and car-customized mounting solution for iPods and iPod photos, using a padded lining to protect the iPods from scratch damage.
Cons: Price of full mounting system is very high relative to other options, even including combination of ProClip’s best mount and a separate car charger. Use of ProClip’s charger precludes use of iPod’s audio-out, restricting utility of the otherwise great car mount for users who prefer line-quality iPod output.
Updated 6-25-05: After publication of the review, ProClip revised the price of the Padded Holder to $59.99 from $69.95, and we have noted as much below.
Over the past several months, ProClip has made major strides in developing in-car mounts for the iPod, introducing in rapid succession a Padded Holder (iLounge rating: A-) and a Padded Adjustable Holder (iLounge rating: A) that are amongst the best we’ve ever seen. Now the company is releasing another variant - the Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel and Charging Cable ($59.99)- a modestly retooled version of the company’s Padded Holder with a couple of design twists.
We won’t rehash the Padded Holder’s review beyond to note that it’s well-built, uses nicely padded sides that won’t scratch your iPod, and requires a mandatory second component called the Vehicle Mount to mount in your car. That second component is car specific and costs $29.95; most vehicles have multiple Mounts to choose from based on your preferred mounting location.
Once the Padded Holder is connected to the Vehicle Mount - an easy process - your iPod is inserted into the holder and remains firmly secured wherever you’ve placed it. A handy tilt-swivel mechanism gives you the ability to turn the holder 360 degrees around, or tilt it 15 degrees in any direction - great for easy viewing. Our only major gripe about the product was that it was expensive - nearly $67.00 - and approaching the point of price objectionability given its functionality.
This new version is just as described above save for three things. First, the unit includes a simple built-in iPod charger, which connects to the bottom of any 3G, 4G, or photo iPod and the cigarette lighter power adapter in a car. The charger is very simple and worked properly in our testing; it uses a red LED to indicate power, and keeps your iPod running while you drive. It’s black, matching the Holder, and employs coiled wire to reduce excessive dangling of cords on your car’s floor. ProClip has created a small bracket on the front bottom of the Holder that holds the charger and iPod in the right place together.
Second, there’s now a padded and pressurized internal ring that presses against an iPod’s back, enabling the one-size-fits-all cradle to accommodate all thicknesses of 3G, 4G, and photo iPods. The ring also worked nicely, and provides a superior solution for multi-iPod owners than buying multiple cradles to accommodate them. ProClip hasn’t designed this cradle for use with the iPod mini, but the ring does support its back if the mini is inserted onto the cradle’s Dock Connector plug and bottom bracket.
Third and finally, there is of course an even higher price tag: a total of $90 if you’re buying both the Vehicle Mount and the charger-equipped iPod holder. This high price is the point that first triggers our criticism, but there’s a deeper issue here: consumer expectations at certain price levels, and the utility of multifunctional product designs.
In its previous form, the Padded Holder was expensive, but a superior option in most ways to the other iPod mounts we’ve seen. By adding a no-frills Charging Cable to the mix, ProClip hasn’t improved the prior product; it’s actually reduced its value.
As we noted in our review of Griffin’s PowerPod (iLounge rating: B), a car charger that includes a detachable iPod cable and can be had for $12, the omission of an audio-out port from a car charging solution isn’t a good thing at this stage of the iPod’s life - audio-out chargers such as Belkin’s Auto Kit (iLounge rating: B+) and Sik’s imp (iLounge rating: B+) have been our top recommended solutions for years, and remain the ones we strongly prefer. An audio-out port is a particularly unwise omission from any sort of high-end car mounting solution, given that individuals with $90 to spend on a car mount may well be looking for higher-quality audio output than an iPod produces through its headphone port. Once it’s left out in a car mount with a permanently attached charger, it’s impossible to use another device with that mount.
For $80, DLO offers hybrid mounting, charging, and audio-out solutions like the TransPod Direct, and Belkin’s TuneBase FM for the iPod mini has all of that and an FM transmitter, too. In fact, you can get a standard TuneBase without the transmitter for only $50. Are these options directly comparable to the new ProClip offering? For some people, they may be. But in any case, they illustrate that you don’t need to spend $90 to get more functionality than ProClip’s offering - in fact, you can spend less.
As we’ve said in several prior ProClip reviews, we generally really like the company’s products, but this particular holder isn’t one that we’d recommend to our readers. If you want to go with a ProClip mounting solution, we’d recommend the Adjustable Mount, but the standard Padded one is a better value than this too, too. If you want charging, you can do it cheaper by adding a Griffin PowerPod or many other no-frills third-party chargers. If you want audio out - which we strongly recommend to anyone with the cash for a mount like this - Belkin’s Auto Kit or Sik’s imp offer superior connectivity solutions. Thus, we’d only recommend the Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel and Charging Cable to a limited crowd of users: people with more than one iPod who want a single holder, don’t mind giving up audio output, and have the cash to spend on this.