Pros: Attractive looking, good build quality in-car mount that works well.
Cons: Adhesives attach to both your car and iPod, slight looseness in iPod holding mechanism.
As our quest to find the perfect in-car mounting solution continues, we’ve received a collection of new accessories from Pro Fit International, maker of mounting accessories for wireless phones and other hand-held devices. While the company’s products are not iPod-specific, they offer a collection of interesting, mostly black-colored alternatives that are suitable at least for iPod mini users, and most likely users of 3G iPods as well.
This review addresses Pro Fit’s UltiMount in-car solution, which is most easily described as an adhesive pad that attaches a small pivoting, iPod-holding arm to your car. Though the UltiMount also requires that the iPod be fitted with an adhesive button for mounting – a design decision that may limit its appeal to some users – we liked its overall look and functionality.
A Common System
Each of Pro Fit’s mounts employs at least three common parts, two of which may initially be show-stoppers for some users: adhesive-backed plastic nub “buttons” and a slightly loose-fitting “mounting plate.” You stick a button on the back of the iPod, and the button slides into a mounting plate on one of the company’s car-mounting accessories. By comparison with the in-car kits we recently reviewed from another company (the similarly named Pro Clip), which are custom-molded to grip the bottoms of various iPods, Pro Fit’s generic adhesive button and loose plastic mounting parts provide a less firm overall grip on an iPod, leaving it more susceptible to road shake and movement.
We generally do not like adhesive mounting solutions because of their impact on both our iPods and our test vehicles, but we will readily admit that Pro Fit’s adhesives do work, and work well. Two adhesive buttons are included with each of Pro Fit’s kits, differing only in the surface area of their back adhesive panels. The largest adhesive button panel provided a more than adequate grip on the back of our test iPod mini, and had enough strength to hold a standard iPod as well. Just for kicks, we tested the adhesive using a heavier full-sized 3.5” hard disk drive, and found that the grip was both strong and firm during shake testing.
Now if only we could have made the adhesive buttons stick on the backs of our favorite rubber cases? But we couldn’t, and that’s the major failing of each of Pro Fit’s solutions. It’s a shame that iPod users considering Pro Fit’s options will have to choose between gumming up and nubbing the backs of their iPods or going without these accessories, because we generally liked the mounting parts the company came up with.
As an aside, each of the Pro Fit products includes a third common piece – a hard plastic belt clip – which is virtually indistinguishable from the sturdy ones offered by other companies. Whether you’d want to clip your iPod to your belt without a protective case is an open question, but we see these belt clips as easy toss-ins that add a little extra value to Pro Fit’s various packages.
Pro Fit’s UltiMount includes two pieces: a customized, smaller round version of the company’s standard rectangular iPod holder, and a pivoting ball and adhesive mount piece that attaches to a surface in your vehicle. Notably, the arm on the UltiMount doesn’t pivot once stuck to a surface on your car, but the iPod holder rotates smoothly on a ball at the end of that arm. You can then use a built-in lock to secure the holder in place on the ball, but the combination is sturdy enough that you probably won’t need to do so except in extreme weather conditions.
Installation is simple, but effective. You clean a surface in your car, peel off the shield on the adhesive mount pad, attach the mount pad to your vehicle, and pivot the circular holder on the ball until you have the perfect viewing angle for your iPod’s screen. The whole process should take less than five minutes.
We really liked the look of the circular holder on the UltiMount, and wish for aesthetic reasons that it had been used on Pro Fit’s other products, though the ideal replacement would be something specific to the iPods’ body shapes. Aesthetics aside, however, the circular holder didn’t hold the iPod quite as tight as Pro Fit’s rectangular plates, which you can read about in our other Pro Fit reviews.
Each of these mounting plates works in the same way. The iPod’s new adhesive button slips into a slot on the mounting plate, sort of locking into the bottom of the slot where an elevated plastic bump catches the front hole of the button. Inserting and removing the button is quite easy because the plate doesn’t hold the button perfectly snug, but it’s also not loose enough to mind under most circumstances, either.
We were concerned that the circular button would be prone to turn a little in these holders, and though it barely moved in the other Pro Fit products, it has slightly greater flexibility in the UltiMount. Most users will not mind, however, since there’s a small soft rubber piece on the front of the UltiMount’s mounting plate that the iPod could rub against if it flexed in that direction. Additionally, in part because of gravity, and so long as the adhesive button is attached in the correct location, the chances of the iPod spinning dramatically or becoming scratched on the UltiMount through typical usage are almost zero.
The adhesive car-mounting pad is flexible enough to wrap slightly on a curved surface, and there’s enough sticky stuff to make the pad highly likely to stick to anything – even, if properly attached, when it’s upside down. We don’t like adding adhesives to our cars’ interiors, but those without such reservations will find Pro Fit’s use of a large circle of quality 3M material to be more than acceptable. Users with different types of cars can unscrew and change the up/down orientation of the adhesive mount pad relative to the ball arm and circular iPod holder.
On a final note, we liked the overall build quality of the UltiMount. Pro Fit’s prices are reasonable, if not low by comparison with other iPod in-car solutions, yet the company has chosen more substantial and seemingly resilient plastics and rubbers than many dedicated iPod accessory manufacturers. If it wasn’t for Pro Fit’s reliance on adhesives, they would earn our top marks for build quality.
Overall, if your car has a flat or curved surface that would look good with an UltiMount attached, and you don’t mind the use of adhesives for both your iPod and your car, you’ll find that Pro Fit’s solution works well and looks pretty darn good. We liked the price ($24.99) and the execution, even if we were not as keen on the adhesive and non-iPod specific portions of its implementation.
Company and Price
Company: Pro Fit International
Model: Pro Fit Ultimount
Compatible: iPod 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, iPod mini, iPod photo