Pros: Great build quality, appearance, ease of installation and fit.
Cons: Plastic residue traces may scratch chrome iPods, users with unusual cars may have issues, price may deter some potential buyers.
We’ve tested all sorts of in-car mounts for the iPod, and we’re oh-so-close to having a favorite. Our newest test subject is ProClip’s Dashboard Mount, an interchangeable system with different clips to fit various versions of the iPod, including the iPod mini. Though our experience with the Dashboard Mount was slightly unusual, we think that most users will find it to be a superb mounting option.
Concept and Installation
The Dashboard Mount is a two-part medium- to heavy-grade plastic accessory that attaches an iPod to the dashboard of a car, typically near its air vents. One of the parts is custom-fit to your vehicle, and ordered separately from the second part, which fits your specific iPod model. ProClip sells two variants on the iPod-specific clips, one with a locking tilt and swivel mechanism that allows the iPod to be moved into a preferred viewing angle, and one with a flat non-swiveling back. (The latter clip is available only for the iPod mini.)
Ordered together, the car- and iPod-specific parts are quickly attached with a flat-edged screwdriver, and installed into a car without further need for modification. ProClip accurately claims that the in-car installation process is a 30 second or 2 minute task, consisting of positioning the Mount in a specified location – again, typically an air vent – and fitting its plastic edges into existing grooves in your car’s moulding.
We’ve previously found in-car solutions to be a problem in our test vehicle, a Lexus RX330, so we weren’t surprised when yet another unusual issue popped up with ProClip’s product: the mounting instructions placed the Mount’s right plastic edge under the plastic moulding of our dashboard’s touchscreen navigation system. The left side’s installation was also odd, but in a way most users will experience: we had to use two pieces of spacing plastic (included) to temporarily separate two pieces of moulding to slip the left plastic clip of the Mount into place. While off-putting, the car looked great before and after installation, with no discernible damage.
Our only problem with ProClip’s Dashboard Mount was that pesky right edge. By choosing to place the Mount’s right clip on top of the navigation system’s touchscreen, ProClip inadvertently creates a user’s dilemma: install the Mount and the touchscreen won’t function properly – in truth, it will function entirely improperly, constantly sensing “touching” on the screen’s left side.
And that was a big shame for us, because the Mount is otherwise a great piece of engineering. Its black plastic frame nicely matched the interior of our test car, and its tilting swivel is easily adjusted to a perfect viewing angle. (A Philips-head screwdriver tightens or loosens the swivel mechanism, but the screw can be left in a position with slight give, yet firm enough for everyday use.) Unlike air vent clips sold at Radio Shack, which we’d previously tried and found somewhat wanting, we had no concern at any point that the Mount was loose, or would drop the iPod inside.
Each of the iPod-specific holders uses enough properly-shaped hard plastic to hold an iPod firmly, gripping around 33% of the units’ bottom and sides. We’ll note for the scratch-conscious that there’s no soft foam here for padding, a feature which would have made the Dashboard Mount friendlier for concerned chrome-backed iPod owners, and two of our test holders had tiny traces of easily removable but leftover plastic on their interior sides. The plastic residue is soft, however, we’d advise new owners to check the edges before sticking chrome iPods in there. More resilient iPod mini owners shouldn’t have even a tinge of concern over scratching.
As a general statement on the value of similar devices, given the option to mount the iPod near an air vent rather than in a cup holder, we would pick the air vent option almost any day: especially for a driver, the air vents’ added height makes the iPod conveniently viewable, rather than forcing eyes entirely away from the road.
ProClip’s Dashboard Mount came very close to rating an “excited” from us, and for most iPod users – those without in-car touch screens to worry about – we think that it’ll be right up there. We found its ease of installation, aesthetic touches, and general utility to be almost beyond reproach.
On a final note, it would be easy to knock the Mount on price, given that its swivel version and car mount together sell for around $65.00, though the non-swiveling mount combination sells for under $50.00. While either number’s higher than Radio Shack’s $23.99 price for its air vent mount, or Belkin’s $29.99 price for its iPod TuneDok, we think that the tangible improvement in sturdiness due to the ProClip’s car-customized fit is worth the price difference. Having tested both the TuneDok and Radio Shack’s mount, we found neither of them to hold as firmly as ProClip’s product, and would definitely pick the Dashboard Mount any day of the week… if only we could use our navigation system at the same time.
Jeremy Horwitz is Senior Editor of iLounge and practices intellectual property law in his spare time. His recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school -ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.
Company and Price
Price: $29.95, $34.95, $19.95, respectively
Compatible: iPod 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, iPod mini, iPod photo