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Monster PDA/GPS suction mount review Date 19th June 2004

Review by Mike Barrett, Darren Griffin, Dave Burrows

 

The Monster PDA/GPS car mount review

For some time now we have seen an explosion in the products and availability of mounting options for PDA and GPS devices. A lot of mounts are now multiple usage which coupled with the new UK mobile telephone laws keeps you legal whilst still functional.

 

This review covers offerings from a a number of manufacturers. These have been generously provided to us for review by Easy Devices, HandNav Technology, and Memory-Map (who are credited alongside the individual items.

 

For some time now a lot of mounts have had the label "Made in Germany" stamped on them. Indeed it appears as if there is a single manufacturer who is making branded mounts and mounting components for OEM providers as well as some major brands such as TomTom and Seidio.

 

From the user's perspective this has the advantage that due to the dominance of this company we are starting to see a 'defacto standard' for modular mounting systems. This means that spares should be readily available and the number of configurations and options for mounts should increase.

 

From my perspective this is fantastic (as a friend of mine says) because now I only need one mounting system and can swap my dedicated holders with ease, meaning that I dont have to re work my cars to use my different testing setups in them.

 

Enough of my babbling lets get on with the reviews:

 

 

These mount systems reviewed here all have modular core components built up from the two core mounts to the connection of the various holders. The mounts work around a connectivity system which integrates the mount to the holder. This is a four prong snap fit male fitting, which connects to a similar female connector on the holder.

 

The multi-function mounts are created using adapter plates with 3 sets of connectors. This allows for a very flexible system to mix and match and create custom mounts. This is obviously not a commercially viable option, so we have the next best thing: many different standard configurations. This review examines some of those configurations.

 

Model     : BHDCL - Standard Black Mount

Supplier : Easy Devices

 

Price Guide : 19.00

 

What do you get?

The BHDCL mount comes with 2.75 inch suction mount which is 6.75 inches long, or 70mm and 170mm for those amongst you that have been metricated. It is also supplied with a base plate with adhesive that allows the "goose neck" to be located on the dash rather than the windscreen.

 

Of course you also get the holder which will accomodate a pda which is 5inches by 4inches by .75 inches deep. With this mount the grips are at the top of the holder. This configuration is suitable for an iPaq 36/38/39/55 PDA without an expansion sleeve.

 

How did it perform ?

Over the weeks that I tested this mount I found that the spring loaded grip mechanism was always positive and never failed. The seal between the gooseneck and the windscreen never failed.

 

Holders with the high mounts proved not to be suitable for the Tungsten T3 PDA, and were marginal for the NavMan jacket on the 36/38/39/54 series iPaqs

 

Rating : 80%


Model     : BHDCLPH - Black Mount Hi Deep Clamp with Phone

Supplier : Easy Devices

 

Price Guide : 29.00

 

What do you get?

As above you get the gooseneck suction mount and baseplate. This time the holder can accomodate two devices, a PDA and either a Mobile Phone or a GPS.

 

The holder can fit a PDA measuring 4 inches wide by 5 inches tall, by 1.5 inches deep. The maximum phone/GPS dimensions are 2.75 inches by 4 inches by 1 inch. Though you cannot have both at the maximum widths as they overlap slightly.

 

How did it perform ?

The additional depth of this mount allows the PDA to have an expansion sleeve and still be held firmly. The picture to the right shows an iPaq 5450 with a CF expansion sleeve, when using the holder with the NavMan GPS sleeve the fit is marginal.

 

Having a mobile phone on the same gooseneck raised fears of suction mount failure. This never happened, but the additional weight did tend to make the whole unit droop sometimes.

 

Rating : 85%

Black mount with phone


Model     : BHSCLPH - Black Mount High Shallow Clamp with Phone

Supplier : Easy Devices

 

Price Guide : 29

 

What do you get?

This bundle is designed to accommodate two devices, a PDA and either a Cell phone or perhaps a Bluetooth GPS. The holder assembly comes complete with a gooseneck arm attached to a sturdy and powerful suction clamp.

 

In addition a plastic base plate is supplied that can be affixed to the dashboard or other non-glass surface allowing the assembly to be mounted on surfaces other than glass.

 

The PDA holder has short side arms and as such could not hold a PDA with an expansion jacket attached. In tests it worked fine with iPAQ 36xx, 38xx, 39xx, 54xx, 2210 and 4150 models. For reference the depth is 2cm and the maximum width 10cm. The accessory holder’s dimensions are 6.5cm wide and 2.5cm deep.

 

How did it perform ?

Despite disliking windscreen suction mounts because of their poor performance in the past I found this one holds on like a limpet once affixed. If suspended from the windscreen without any other support the weight of the set-up when both holders were occupied meant bit tended to ‘bounce’ but this was easily remedied by installing in a position such that either the holder or the arm rested on the dashboard.

 

Rating : 85%

 


Model     : BLDCL - Black Mount Low Deep Clamp

Supplier : Easy Devices

 

Price Guide : 19.00

 

What do you get?

The Low Deep Clamp mount comes with the same gooseneck as the other mounts with the option of using the adhesive baseplate instead of the windscreen.

 

How did it perform ?

I have a friend who uses the baseplate stuck to a flat area of the centre console rather than using the windscreen. So this really is an effective mounting option.

 

The holder has deep grips enabling it to be used with most PDAs including those with expansion jackets. It was ideal for my Tungsten T3 as the grips are well below the control buttons. The low deep clamp is the only mount that held the NavMan with any feeling of security, but I was always a tad concerned it might fall out.

 

Rating : 85%


Model     : SHDCLDESK - Silver Mount Hi Deep Desk Clamp

Supplier : Easy Devices

 

Price Guide : 25.00

 

What do you get?

The desk mount comes with a solid arm, attached to the mounting plate. This can either be attached to the windscreen, or as shown here attached to the baseplate. There are two baseplates supplied, the one shown with adhesive, or a screw mount for additional stability.

 

How did it perform ?

The Desk mounts are much more to my liking than the gooseneck mounts. These offer a much more stable platform for the holder. As you can see from the photos to the right the entire structure is far more solid. When you use the screw mounting plate the entire assembly becomes totally rigid.

 

The option I chose for my probe was the normal suction baseplate. This still performs very well and allows me to swap mounting systems with ease.

 

As you can see there is no truely flat area on the Ford probe to mount the baseplate so there is a slight movement when driving, this is still far more stable than the goosenect though.

 

The desk mount system is the same as that chosen for the TomTom Palm CarKit and the TomTom Go to be released shortly.

 

As you can see the deep arms of the PDA grip allow me to use my iPaq 2210 without having to remove it's protective case.

 

Rating : 95%


Model     : BSHCLDESK - Black Hi Shallow Clamp Desk Mount

Supplier : Easy Devices

 

Price Guide : 25.00

 

What do you get?

The desk mount comes with a solid arm, attached to the mounting plate. This can either be attached to the windscreen, or as shown here attached to the baseplate. There are two baseplates supplied, the one shown with adhesive, or a screw mount for additional stability.

 

How did it perform ?

I have a little difficulty positioning these mounts in my car. I have a Chrysler Voyager which has a large raked windscreen. One of the problems with PDA mounts is that they need an inch or so additional space at the bottom for cables (isnt it about time someone designed a rightangle adapter for them?). The result of this is that there are very few places that a PDA can be positioned in my car. The desk mounts really fit well on the right hand side. They do not have to be positioned too high blocking my view, and the cables can still run OK.

 

The design of this mount is such that is creates an incredibly strong and solid bond to the windxcreen with minimal vibration movement. This is about as close as I have come to finding the perfect moveable mount.

 

The only problem I encountered was that the suction on the windscreen was so good I nearly ripped the suction cup from the mount trying to get it off.

 

The holder is the optimum size for the iPaq 2210 and the 5450 fitted it perfectly as well. When I used my Tungsten T3 I had problems as the grips cover and activate the voice recorder button. A low clamp would be more suited to the T3.

 

Rating : 95%

 


Model     : SHDCLPH - Silver Mount Hi Deep Clamp with Phone

Supplier : Easy Devices

 

Price Guide : 29.00

 

What do you get?

This mount comes with the same gooseneck as the other mounts in this review. It is also supplied with the same baseplate.

 

The holder this time has the grips at the top of the mount as the name suggests the grips are deep (just under 1.5 inches 37mm) and suitable for PDAs with expansion jackets.

 

How did it perform ?

This mount worked very well with my iPaq 5450 with the CF expansion sleeve, but became very marginal when using the NavMan 3450 GPS jacket. The picture to the right shows that the expansion sleeve was only just in the grips.

 

Rating : 85%


Model     : BRK02-? PDA and GPS/Phone holder

Supplier : Memory-Map

 

Price Guide : 29.95

 

What do you get?

The memory-map BRK02 mount is available with a selection of different mounting options: Gooseneck suction mount, Screw mount, Bike mount, Ball mount, or the one I chose the Double sucker mount. I chose the double sucker because I wanted to locate the mount on a verticle surface on a motor boat and I wanted to ensure that it stayed in place.

 

How did it perform ?

There was never any doubt that this mount was never going to part company with the cockpit wind shield, the only problem (not mount related) was the amount of spray we encountered on our trip. We improvised with a plastic bag to provide weather proofing.

 

During our journey the holder was subjected to a lot of violent vibration, far more than you would get in a carand apart from not being able to read the screen the PDA and the GPS were always held securely.

 

The only critisim with this setup was the lack of adjustment available. The double sucker will only be suitable in the correct installations.

 

Rating : 85%

 


Model     : Seidio Slimline Suction Mount

Supplier : HandNav Technology

 

Price Guide : 25.00

 

What do you get?

The Seidio Slimline Suction Mount has the same gooseneck suction mount as the others reviewed in this article, but the similarities end there. There is an adapter plate which connects to the gooseneck and then the slimline mount.

 

How did it perform ?

The Seidio mount really lives up to its name it is about the same depth as the iPaq 5450 PDA, whereas the others were half as deep again.

 

As can be seen from the picture to the right the mount uses an adapter plate to connect into the gooseneck. This is the same system that Seidio use on their G2500 and Multimedia mounts.

 

The holder will only accept PDAs without expansion sleeves. This can be quite limiting to the iPaq 36/38/39/54 series users. This holder worked well with the Palm Tungsten T2 and T3 PDAs when the silkscreen was open, with reasonable clearance on all operational buttons.

 

Once again the suction mount system worked well without failure throughout my tests.

 

The operation of the grip release mechanism let this mount down. It was very uneven in operation but it never failed.

 

Rating : 70%



Model     : TomTom 2210 CarKit

Supplier : TotalPDA

 

Price Guide : 40

 

What do you get?

There are two different types of carkit about at the moment. The only difference is the leads supplied with them. The carkits are available for a lot of the popular makes of PDA.

 

The 2210 car kit features a gooseneck mount, an adhesive baseplate, an adhesive/screw mount base, a vent mount, and a bundle of cables. I received a cigar lighter cable, a cable to power a BT GPS and I also received one to connect directly to the car power supply. Since I received this car kit TomTom have stopped providing the last power cable though you can get it from TomTom directly on request.

 

How did it perform ?

The carkit I used I tried out with the various mounting options successfully, but eventually ended up using my modified Brodit Pro Clip this allows me to swap all my GPS gear with no fussing around.

 

The carkit is designed specifically for one model/range of PDAs and as such is a perfect fit for my 2210. The cabling is very easy to manage and provides all the power and connectivity I need. When there is power to the carkit the cabled GPS is activated.

 

The only thing that slightly tarnishes my experience of the TomTom car Kit is a slight internal vibration that rattles occasionally.

 

Rating : 90%

 

   

 

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