Reviewed by Darren Griffin
Carcomm Part Number: CNM-160
Based in Holland, Carcomm have a wide range of hands-free car kits, mobile phone cradles, PDA mounts and even mounts for the ubiquitous iPhone. But more importantly for us they have a range of cradle solutions available for PND SatNav devices. It is their recently released TomTom x20 Cradle that we are reviewing here.
The x20 range from TomTom has had a mixed reception from the early adopters, whilst its slim form factor and extensive feature list is worthy, the basic mount which lacks any form of connectivity is not. For a high end device many users decry the loss of an active mount as was supplied with the range that it replaced, the x10. This is particularly valid if you use the TMC Antenna or iPod Connectivity options as this means you have to connect and remove two plugs every time you dock or undock the device as well as attach it to the fiddly mount thet tomTom chose to use.
Consequently there is a large market for third party mounting solutions that address these shortcomings. We have previously reviewed Brodit's x20 solution but Carcomm have approached the problem of catering for the TMC antenna from a different angle.
Carcomm's cradle is more akin to the OEM phone cradles you see in modern cars and is all the better for it. Manufactured from ABS plastic it consists of the cradle itself, a separate swivel mount, a gooseneck window suction mount and a self adhesive disc to allow the window mount to be affixed to a dashboard or other surface.
The cradle itself may appear bulky in comparison with alternative solutions but there is a reason for this. Cleverly it contains the electronics necessary to reduce the voltage from the vehicles 12/24v supply to the 5v required by the x20. This is a huge advantage for anyone wishing to hard-wire the cradle into the vehicle. Although the cradle comes fitted with a cigarette lighter plug for immediate use, if you wish to hard-wire, all you need do is chop off the plug and connect. Carcomm even supply an in-line fuse for this very purpose.
The cradle also has a 90cm long pig tail lead that terminates in a socket for your TomTom TMC antenna or iPod cable. This neat solution gives you the additional length required if you mount the cradle low on the dashboard.
If you want to get up and running straight away, all you need do is connect the cradle to the gooseneck mount with the supplied nuts and bolts, affix to windscreen and plug in. The x20 drops in smoothly and mates with the mini-USB power plug and TMC connector.
If you want a more permanent install then you need to decide where you wish to install the cradle. Carcomm have a range of mounting brackets including metal dash-mounts that screw to the dashboard or attach to existing fittings and safety-mounts which are ABS brackets that clip to the dash.
With a suitable mounting location you can affix the cradle using the supplied swivel bracket and then either connect to your cigarette lighter or accessory socket or hard-wire as desired.
It works! The x20 slides in simply and positively and mates with the connectors easily. the cradle is robustly constructed and the swivel bracket allows sufficient movement when installed in my car for it to be angled towards me as required.
I intend hard-wiring to the cars 12v supply but for now have just used the cigarette plug, I have however tidied away the pigtail TMC lead under the passenger dash (you can just make out a bit of the lead disappearing in the image below!). The pigtail was long enough to run under the dash to the passenger A-post where I have connected the TMC Antenna. As i have a hatred for dangling wires and trailing cables this has allowed a very neat install of the TMC antenna that would otherwise have not been possible.
The biggest issue I can see here will be the bulk of the cradle itself. Much like Marmite you will either love it or hate it! For me it is a positive feature, it is well manufactured and has the look of an OEM solution. The simplicity with which this can be hard-wired is to be commended and the fact that it is also 12/24v compatible will be welcomed by truck drivers and others whose vehicles are 24v.
Carcomm's solution to the TMC connection issue works well and the docking process itself is a breeze. So this gets a whole hearted thumbs up from me. I should also mention that Carcomm have a similar cradle with TMC lead for both the TomTom ONE v3 and ONE XL models.
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