Review: ProClip Padded Holders for iPod nano and 5G (with video)
Pros: Sturdy, neutral/good-looking car-customized mounting solutions for iPod 5G and nanos, using a padded lining to protect the iPods from scratch damage.
Cons: Price of each full mounting system remains quite high relative to other options, lacks ability to mount encased iPods.
We’ve previously lauded ProClip’s series of excellent car mounts for iPods, naming the company’s top-of-line Adjustable Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel our 2005 iPod Car Accessory of the Year. This week, the company has updated its second-best series of mounts, called Padded Holders ($37 each), for both the fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano. Two different-sized models are offered for 30GB and 60GB 5G iPods, with a miniaturized take that fits both the 2GB and 4GB nanos. The nano version we review here is physically different from the original Padded Holder previewed in our Holiday Buyers’ Guide, lacking some unnecessary front and bottom coverage that made it hard to remove the nano with a cable attached.
The concept behind each of the Padded Holders is simple: ProClip has sculpted a hard plastic iPod holder to firmly grip the sides of your bare iPod or nano, holding it at eye level when integrated with a second hard plastic piece ($30) tailored to your specific car. You pick both of the parts from the company’s web site, then attach them with included screws, a process that takes a few minutes, before inserting the completed mount on the dashboard of your car. An adjustable “Tilt Swivel” ball-joint mechanism on the back of the Padded Holder lets you turn the iPod or change its viewing angle on any 15 degrees relative to the car mount, which stays firmly locked into your car’s air vent or alongside its stereo system. The mounted iPod’s features can be controlled with its own Click Wheel and viewed on its own screen, a departure from the car integration approaches of devices such as Monster’s iCruze and Harman/Kardon’s Drive + Play, which use separate in-car screens and control systems so that you don’t need to use the iPod’s.
Unlike the company’s earlier, less expensive iPod mounts, Padded Holder’s hard plastic is covered with a thin layer of soft, velvet-like foam - the reason for its “Padded” name. This foam guarantees that your iPod won’t be scratched when placed in or taken out of the holder, and looks relatively neutral and inoffensive in a car, especially when combined with a black-bodied iPod and dark car interior. Some people who see the Padded Holder like the look; others wish the foam was less conspicuous. We don’t mind it.
The major difference between this standard Padded Holder and the company’s top-of-line Adjustable Padded Holder is simple: you can’t use the standard Padded version with an encased iPod. ProClip’s Adjustable version - not yet released for 5G or nano, coming for nano in December - has screw-locked sides that can be opened or closed to your preferred width, enabling an iPod with or without a case to fit inside. The Adjustable design is an optimal mounting solution, in our view, not requiring iPod owners to pull iPods in and out of cases, but the standard Padded case provides a less expensive option for users who aren’t concerned about this. Both the iPod 5G and nano version enable you to connect a Dock Connector cable to the iPod’s bottom for charging and audio output; the nano version also provides access to the bottom headphone port, just in case.
In our earlier reviews of these Holders, we’ve noted one and only one major disadvantage: pricing. ProClip’s holders are the best we’ve seen, but they’ve come at a steep cost - here, you’ll need to pay a total of $67 for one of these iPod holders and a car-specific mount. We’ve previously pointed out alternate combined mounting, charging, and audio-out solutions such as TEN Technology’s flexDock for iPod mini (iLounge rating: A-), and this competition has continued to improve. Now that TEN has released the flexibleDock (iLounge rating: A), which provides all of these features at a price of only $50, the value equation is even cloudier. TEN’s design is compatible with 5G iPods and nanos, works very well, and provides excellent electronic components for charging and audio output. Depending on your car and your needs, you may find flexibleDock to be a more capable solution than the ProClip mount, at a lower price.
Overall, these new Padded Holders are very good mounting options for either version of 5G iPod or iPod nano, and recommended. Though we prefer ProClip’s Adjustable Holders, and companies such as TEN are now aggressively providing better overall mounting and electronic values for the dollar, there’s no question that ProClip’s mounts remain the very best we’ve seen to custom-fit both iPods and vehicles. Consider the Padded Holder if you want a way to mount a bare iPod in your car, and already have the electronics you need to make an audio and charging connection with your vehicle.