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MacFixer, the iPhone, iPod, and iPad specialists
Brodit amplified holder review 21st October 2004

Review by Mike Barrett

 

Overview

When we were at CeBIT back in March Brodit swore us to secrecy then showed us a number of new products that they were going to release this year. One of these was the amplified mount. Well this is now available and Handnav Technology have kindly provided us with a sample for review.

 

One of the problems with some of the modern PDAs is the small speaker and lack of audio volume. This had led to some PDA holder companies producing mounts with external speakers. There are quite a few of these amplified holders on the market so how does the Brodit version compare? Read on to find out...

Brodit custom mounting systems

Quick Navigation

Overview

What's in the box

Review

Issues and Problems

Conclusion

Resources

What's in the box or in this case the bag!

The mount is supplied, as all Brodit mounts, in a polythene bag. This contains:

  • The mount itself.
  • A tilt and swivel base
  • A set of screws to mount the base plate.

In addition to the mount you will also need a vehicle specific ProClip to fix the mount to. For this installation I used the Brodit MoveClip. This creates a moveable mounting system allowing you to swap holders at will.

 

The Brodit amplified mount review

The Brodit amplified mount comes in four basic configurations for a large number of PDAs. The basic configurations are:

  1. Active holder for fixed installation.
  2. Active holder for fixed installation with PS2 serial connector
  3. Active holder with cigarette lighter plug
  4. Holder for cable attachment with built-in connector.

The model I had to review was the Active holder with cigarette lighter plug for the iPAQ 5450 with expansion pack. I chose this configuration as it allows me to test with a wide range of GPS devices and receivers from CF and SD cards to Jackets and Bluetooth.

 

The holder comes with a tilt and swivel mount. This needs to be attached to a ProClip which is specific to your car. This does not require any drilling nor will it damage the dash of the car.

 

To attach the holder to the ProClip all you need are the 4 screws supplied with the kit and a crosshead screwdriver. Although not essential I also find it useful to use a small drill to make some tapping holes in the holder so the screws fit easier.

 

The mount can be removed from the tilt/swivel base by unscrewing the central tortion bolt. This makes it easier to fix the tilt/swivel to the ProClip.

Brodit amplified holder connector

The central tortion bolt allows the holder to be positioned to your height and angle requirements without being fixed. You will find that you may want to tighten this to lock the holder into place.

 

Pictured to the right is the base of the "Holder for cable attachment with built-in connector" here you can clearly see the iPAQ style connector to which you can connect your GPS. This allows the cable from your GPS to be plugged into the holder. If you do not hav a suitable GPS then you need a charging cable otherwise the amplifier will not work.

 

I used the Brodit MoveClip on the back of my holder.

This allows me to change the holder for my mobile phone holder, the XDA II holder, or any of the other Brodit holders that I use.

 

The pictures below show the bottom of the holder and the rear of the holder with the MoveClip attached.

The Brodit amplified mount is constructed to the highest standard which is typical of all Brodit products that I have reviewed. I reviewed the iPAQ 5450 holder with expansion jacket.

 

As expected the PDA fitted perfectly, with no movement in any plane, forming a nice snug fit. The mount has slots in the sides which keep the PDA held tightly with no movement, and moe importantly no chance of your expensive PDA falling out the first time you hit a bump.

 

At the bottom of the holder is a small semi-circular grille. This covers the speaker, which is about 1.25 inches in diameter. At the back of the speaker enclosure two cables are located. One terminates in a small jack plug which is for the audio output from the PDA, the other is the power cable which has a standard cigar lighter plug. With the 5450 and 5550 the audio connector is located on the bottom of the PDA. This has caused problems in the past connecting external amplifiers. Not so with this mount. Brodit have molded the base of the mount to allow for the insertion of the audio cable.

 

The audio cable itself is about 9 inches long. That's 230mm to those of us who speak metric. This is a bit of an overkill as the actual distance (when mounted) is about 1.5 inches, so a 3 inch cable would have been sufficient. This length does let you connect the PDA easily well clear of the mount then slide it into position.

 

Now I think I have known Lutz for too long because one of the first things I did was to unscrew the speaker housing and take a peek at what was inside. Not that it means too much to me, but there are 2 circuit boards in there, one handling the PDA connection, and the other has a small chip (which I assume is an amplifier) on it.

 

The two pictures below give a good indication of the internals of the speaker housing, and PDA connector.

So that is the technical description. How does it measure up in use?

 

Well the first thing I tried it out with was TomTom, and my first impressions are not printable. Those of you who use TomTom will know that the voice files are over amplified and distorted. When you have your PDA on full volume this just amplifies the distortion and it sounds really terrible. I then turned down the volume on the PDA and the sound quality improved greatly without affecting the volume of the instructions.

 

So my first trial was not the best of test to evaluate the amplified output. The next thing I tried was the Windows Media Player. Now with no amplification the WMP on the 5450 is atrocious, if you hold the PDA at arms length you have to strain to hear the music. This all changes with the Brodit mount. The music is not distorted and is amplified to an acceptable level that can be heard over the road noises at motorway speeds.

 

There are no volume controls on the holder, the volume level is managed using the PDA volume slider. This is one of the reasons the initial TomTom test was a problem: The volume on the 5450 had to be turned up full just to hear a whisper, the Brodit holder amplified the full signal and boy was that loud.

 

Issues and Problems

Well there really is nothing to report here. As usual Brodit have come up with a well thought out and well designed mount. The only issue really is the price, starting at £60.00 and then having to add a ProClip at £17.00 the cost is double some of the competition.

 

Not really an issue, but with the 5450 PDA the audio jack socket is located on the bottom of the PDA. It would have been useful if instead of the flexible cable the holder had a fixed audio jack. This would be icing on the cake.

 

Conclusions

The Brodit Holder with speaker is a product that I would recommend to anyone who has one of the modern PDAs with low audio output. It is well designed and manufactured, and when matched with a ProClip for your vehicle it forms a rock solid platform for your navigation applications, or any other PDA application you run whilst on the move.

 

Don't expect Hi-Fi quality sound, bearing in mind the intention is to amplify voice navigation. This holder is one of the best I have had the pleasure of testing.

Pros

  • Well designed and constructed
  • Allows you to hear voice navigation
  • Rock solid mounting system

Cons

  • Price
Review equipment supplied by

 

References

Manufacturers Website www.brodit.se
UK retailer www.handnav.co.uk
Pocket GPS Contributor

Mike Barrett

Pocket GPS Contributor Website

http://www.salesclubuk.com

 

 

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