Sunday, January 04, 2009

Hardware Review: ProClip USA iPhone holder for your car

My iPhone is one of my most indispensable tools. I use it everywhere and anywhere, especially in my car. Fortunately I have a Bluetooth speakerphone built into my GPS, so I can safely answer calls while driving. The only problem is that I often can't find the darn phone when I get in the car...until I got a ProClip.

Previously, my phone would be in my pocket, or my briefcase, or various other places. I tried the cupholder, but got nervous about my coffee spilling. I tried the glove compartment, but then it got knocked around. Most car accessories weren't designed for the iPhone 3G or required rather hideous stick-on devices for the windshield or dashboard. Even with those, the stability was marginal at best. Their key fault was that all cars are not designed the same, so something that works well in one car, won't work well in another vehicle.

ProClip is truly unique,and solves this problem. The clip consists of two parts. The first part is custom designed for your car; the "vehicle mount". I had to specify the exact make and model for the car: 2003 Toyota Corolla Matrix. The vehicle mount differs from car to car. Some go near the radio, some near a vent, some in the middle console. The experts at ProClip determine the most stable place to mount your device. Often times it requires a little bit of prying. I was wary about that at first, but it was very easy. It wasn't any harder than putting my iPhone in a hard case. Just place the tool at the predetermined spots in car and slip in the ProClip. I've had more trouble assembling a hard shell iPhone case then I did a ProClip.

The second part is the actual container for the iPhone; the "device holder". Unlike other iPhone holders, the ProClip has an adjustable model that allows you to keep your silicone or hard shell around your iPhone while the device was held in the ProClip. Again, I was skeptical about the ProClip. There was nothing to hold the iPhone in place except for groves in the plastic. However, after going over some serious bumps and even purposefully knocking the clip around, the iPhone remained stable and secure. Wow. There are other models that aren't adjustable forcing you to use your iPhone 3G naked as well as models that include chargers and pass-through connectors.

Unfortunately, with my car, the mount couldn't be in a worse place. It is extremely close to the radio and is in front of the volume button so I have to reach around the unit to change the volume. The closeness to the radio increases exponentially my problems with GSM buzz. Also, since I have a GPS on the dash, the placement of the phone partially obscures my view of the GPS and gets in the way when I want to program destinations. If I didn't have the GPS, the iPhone is in the perfect position for turn by turn direction viewing. If the placement in front of the radio wasn't bad enough, the ProClip also sits right in front of the heating vent, which means that on cold winter days I can't use that vent unless I want a blast of hot air to turn my iPhone into a toasty brick of plastic goo.

These mount problems are very vehicle specific. My spouse's 2008 Camry allows for a mount much further away from the radio and air vents. The website shows pictures exactly where the clip would mount on your vehicle. An associate of mine has the same car I do and has a ProClip mount. He never listens to the radio, has no GPS, and doesn't mind loosing one of the vents. In other words, my situation is unique.

ProClip is not a inexpensive solution. Vehicle mounts average $35 and the device holders are $30-$50. Also there is a 15% restocking fee should you need to return the item. That policy is a bit disappointing consider how personal and specific these vehicle mounts are.

In spite of these faults, I still use my ProClip unless I have a particularly bad GPS buzz problem or it's a really cold day. I enjoy knowing exactly where my iPhone is and I can easily see callers while I'm driving. When my GPS doesn't have my client's address, my iPhone is always able to find it.

Pros: Custom designed holder for your iPhone and your vehicle. Keep your iPhone in reach without messy suction cups or mounting tape
Cons: Very vehicle specific and often requires you to compromise other vehicle functions. Unfair restocking fee.

3 out of 5 Dogcows


Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right