Review: ProClip Padded iPod In-Car Holder
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. Replaces its non-padded predecessor as the best in-car mount yet released.
Cons: Price of full mounting system is high relative to other options.
After we tested ProClip’s In-Car Mounts for the iPod photo ($54.90 and up, iLounge rating: A-) last month, we were generally very impressed. The car-specific Mounts integrated perfectly with our test vehicle, and did a great job of holding our iPod photo in just the right position for in-car use. One of the mounts, with an adjustable Tilt Swivel mechanism, was especially useful. We could position the iPod at eye level using whatever angle we preferred, and best yet, we discarded the iPod Remote control we used to keep around to flip through songs - the LCD-equipped iPod itself became the only music controller we needed.
In awarding an A- rating to the new mounts, we noted that we had only two small issues: one was that although ProClip’s design avoided iPod scratching by properly polishing up the inside edges of its mounts, the use of hard plastic might still deter some scratch-sensitive iPod owners. The other issue was pricing. Shortly after our review, ProClip contacted us to let us know about two upcoming solutions to the scratch-sensitivity issue: the first of them, a Padded In-Car iPod Holder ($36.95 plus $29.95 car-specific dashboard mount), is reviewed here.
The Padded Holder shares identical functionality with the Tilt Swivel Holder we reviewed last month, save that it’s entirely covered in a thin layer of black velvety fabric. These two holders are basically indistinguishable from a distance, but up close, the Padded Holder’s black fabric is modestly more conspicuous. Both looked very good in our test vehicle, though we’d give the slight visual edge to the all-plastic Tilt Swivel version.
ProClip’s assembly of the Padded Holder remains highly professional. We found the fabric to be properly cut to the shape of the holder, and perfectly attached, without any rough edges or wrinkles. Like the earlier Tilt Swivel version, our iPod photo slipped easily into the Padded Holder, and didn’t feel loose or dangerously tight inside. The Padded Holder also integrated properly with our vehicle-specific car mount, which is sold separately. For more details on how these mounts are customized to and installed in your individual vehicle, see our earlier reviews (iPod photo and iPod/iPod mini).
The only major remaining disadvantage of ProClip’s mounts is an obvious one: pricing. True, they’ve proved to be the best standalone in-car iPod mounting solutions we’ve tested, but as the combined price level of the Padded Holder and a car-specific Mount hits a new high of almost $67, it’s impossible to ignore the other solutions out there. Aside from Radio Shack’s air vent mounts and similar competing options, there are fully integrated in-car charging and mounting solutions such as TEN Technology’s flexDock ($49.95), Belkin’s TuneBases ($49.99 and up), and DLO’s TransPods ($69.99 and up) at comparable prices.
On one hand, the comparison is unfair: TEN and Belkin’s devices are iPod mini-specific only, and we’ve criticized the TransPod for not providing as stable or viable a mount in some cars as we would like. On the other hand, some people are happy with the cheaper air vent mounts and floor-mounted goosenecks offered at low prices by Radio Shack and others, and we know that more iPod-specific gooseneck chargers are on the way, along with other innovations.
One other detail is worth noting, as well. As much as we love and highly recommend the Padded Holder, ProClip has identified another and potentially better possible solution: a car mount with enough space to accommodate a silicone-encased iPod. That holder’s already being worked on, and is expected for release at the end of February. We haven’t seen or tested one yet, but if ProClip does it right, we would fully expect that it will become the mounting option of choice for people with full-sized iPods. We now take our iPods in and out of their silicone sleeves to use them in our cars, and such a solution would eliminate that last little annoyance - while keeping the iPod just as scratch-safe as the Padded Holder.
Future releases don’t figure into our ratings, though: we need to look at what’s actually available for full-sized iPods, and no gooseneck or better-designed holder currently exists. For the time being, the Padded Holder is tied with its Tilt Swivel predecessor as the best mounting solution available for the full-sized iPod. Though we liked the look of the Tilt Swivel version a little bit more, and it hasn’t scratched our iPod photo at all, we’re presently using and loving the Padded Holder in our own vehicle. The padding adds peace of mind, and we always like peace of mind. If you are willing to spend the cash to get a mount that does the job right, we have no doubt that you’ll appreciate the Padded Holder just as much as we do.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.