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Reviewed: Arkon Bluetooth GPS Car Kit for iPhone
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Kerensky
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Joined: Feb 19, 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the great review. This is the only 3rd party review I've been able to find for this mount. I had a few questions about the mount I was hoping you could answer:

1. Can you still use the iPhone headphone port to listen with earbuds while docked?

2. When using the mountsí line-out with the standard iPhone earbuds, does the iPhone still recognize the earbud volume and click buttons?

3. How does the GPS performance compare to the iPhone 4ís built in GPS, particularly with initial position fixes?

4. Is it possible to turn the mountsí GPS off and use the built in iPhoneís?

5. How sturdy is the windshield mount when affixed? Does it wobble at all over rough roads or when interacting with the iPhone screen?

I appreciate your help, and thanks again for reviewing this product.
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Darren
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Joined: 11/07/2002 14:36:40
Posts: 23848
Location: Hampshire, UK

PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kerensky wrote:
1. Can you still use the iPhone headphone port to listen with earbuds while docked?

Yes
Quote:
2. When using the mountsí line-out with the standard iPhone earbuds, does the iPhone still recognize the earbud volume and click buttons?

You should not plug headphones into a line-out socket.
Quote:
3. How does the GPS performance compare to the iPhone 4ís built in GPS, particularly with initial position fixes?

It's marginally faster but difficult to quantify. The iPhone4's GPS receiver is a good 'un, unlike that in the 3G and to a lesser extent, the 3GS.
Quote:
4. Is it possible to turn the mountsí GPS off and use the built in iPhoneís?

Only by removing power to the mount.
Quote:
5. How sturdy is the windshield mount when affixed? Does it wobble at all over rough roads or when interacting with the iPhone screen?

It's pretty secure, as good as any other windscreen mount, sturdy and all tightly connected.
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mochristie
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Joined: Apr 26, 2007
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:26 pm    Post subject: Arkon iphone kit Reply with quote

the ball connection is the same as Garmin - i just swopped holders
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MrGumby
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Joined: Jan 21, 2006
Posts: 114
Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:10 am    Post subject: Sound quality Reply with quote

Anybody have a view on sound quality of the built-in speakers on TomTom vs. Arkon kits?

I do wish these kits offered a physical switch between built-in speaker and line out. If I set off with the car radio playing and sat nav sound from the car-kit speaker, then decide I want to listen to mp3's plus sat nav through my car stereo, I have to plug in the line out cable - not easy and not safe, while driving. I'd like to be able to leave the line out cable permanently plugged in, and use a switch to choose between speaker and line out. Or am I missing something?
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MrGumby
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Joined: Jan 21, 2006
Posts: 114
Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I decided to answer my own question by buying an Arkon kit to test alongside my TomTom kit. Here are my conclusions.

The Arkon RWIPC TomTom iPhone kits are expensive but do have high residual value, so cost of ownership is fairly low.

The Arkon kit has three benefits over the TomTom kit, any one of which could be a clincher:

1. Ability to accept an iPhone in a case or bumper
2. Ability to connect with Bluetooth even when the phone isnít docked
3. Cheaper

The TomTom kit has benefits of its own but they are of less significance:

1. Slimmer and more elegant, in my estimation
2. Sliding adjustment of the holder on its mount (vertical adjustment in portrait view, horizontal if turned to landscape view)

Sound quality from the built-in speakers is quite similar. Both are rather muffled. Iíd probably give the edge to the TomTom kit, if anything, but there isnít enough difference for this to be a factor.

I canít comment on the auxiliary GPS chip in either of them because my iPhone 4 works fine without the auxiliary chips.

I would think it more likely that the Arkon than TomTom kit will work with future versions of the iPhone, which could be important.

Something neither offers, and I wish they did: a physical switch between integrated speaker and line-out. When you connect a line-out cable to the car kit, sound to the integrated speaker is cut. So, if you want to set off listening to your car radio while getting navigation instructions from the car kitís integrated speaker, the line-out cable must be disconnected. If you later want to listen to the phoneís mp3 app and/or navigation instructions through your car radio, you have to plug in the line-out cable Ė downright dangerous while driving. A simple switch to direct sound from the car kit to integrated speaker or line-out would enable the line-out cable to be permanently connected.

Perhaps the only other thing to consider is mounting the kits. I prefer the TomTom windscreen mount to the Arkon mount, in both appearance and use. That doesnít matter if, like me, you want to dispense with the windscreen mount and keep your sat nav at dashboard level.

Dashboard mounting is easily achieved with either kit. The Arkon has a 17mm (i.e. Garmin-size) ball socket for attachment to the windscreen mount. It can be removed from the windscreen mount and attached to a wide range of mounts from Garmin, Arkon and others. For example, search Ďgarmin vent mountí on Amazon. I used an Arkon GN047 vent mount which worked well in my BMW 5-Series (E60/E61) although it isn't as easy to remove as I would like.

The TomTom kit too has a ball socket and can be attached to various mounts. I already had a cheap Halfords vent mount with a flat plate on the front and screwed a Brodit 533091 accessory to it.

Donít want a vent mount? Choose a Brodit Proclip for your specific car and screw a suitable mount to it, e.g. Brodit 215116 for the Arkon kit or Brodit 533091 for the TomTom kit. Arkon offers a wide range of mounts too.

So, there you have it. If you donít keep your phone in a case/bumper, you might prefer the TomTom kit, for appearance. It will probably have a higher resale value too. Otherwise, the choice is simple - go for the cheaper Arkon kit.

UPDATE, 16 APRIL

One other criticism of the Arkon cradle - it seems to vibrate and waggle around much more than the TomTom cradle. Since I don't use a case or bumper, and since I nearly always dock the phone when I'm in the car (so don't need a Bluetooth connection to an undocked phone), I'm sticking with the TomTom kit. The sound is definitely marginally clearer, although still not great, and it stays still. Looks less clunky too. If the TomTom kit won't take an iPhone 5, when it arrives, I'll just have to buy a new kit.
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