Reviews: Other

Arkon CM425 15" flexible Gooseneck Mount

     When I got my first car, my Dad said that it was my car except I was not allowed to get one of those mounts to hook my laptop to the steering wheel. He never said anything about a mount for my PDA. Arkon Resources Inc. is what I would call a ?mobile mounter.? They specialize in products for mounting your PDA and/or your cell phone in your vehicle. Arkon has a mount to put your PDA just about anywhere in your car (though they didn?t have one for hanging it from the roof). My mount of choice was the CM425 15? flexible gooseneck pedestal mount and iPAQ holder.  This mount can attach various ways to your vehicle; I chose the simplest and least damaging and attached it to my passenger seat bolt. Arkon includes a simple, yet effective, installation instruction sheet. The most difficult part of the installation (at least is my car) is loosening the passenger seat bolt (which did break my ratchets bit adapter). Once you get it loosened and then install the gooseneck, you are just about done. Simply check and tighten the screws and you are rolling. This installation only takes 10-15 minutes (which is probably a little longer then installing some of the other Arkon mounts), but in my opinion, the extra time is worth it.
     The instructions that accompany the mount specifically say not to try and bend the gooseneck by pulling on the device holder. The device holder is plastic, which the rest of the mount is heavy metal. The gooseneck takes a little strength to bend, so bending the gooseneck via the holder could cause the device holder to easily break. Initially I thought I would have liked the gooseneck to bend easier but then I realized that having a less flexible gooseneck is better to support the weight of the iPAQ, with an expansion. You do not want your gooseneck to bend with the device on it, you want it to stay the same. I think Arkon foresaw the argument that their gooseneck is difficult to make minor adjustments to, and so they made the connector for attaching the device holder have more features then just a connection point. You can swivel the connection points around 360 degrees horizontally and 180 degrees vertically. This is a nice feature for small adjustments to where your device is pointing or the angle it is at. Personally, I have configured my mount to have the device near a 45-degree angle. My fear is that my device will slip out of the holder if I brake hard or turn a corner to sharp. Arkon didn?t include a locking mechanism to hold your device is on this mount, which I find to be a minor flaw. Depending on how you want you PDA to be oriented, this could present potential problems. 
     Even though the holder is just plastic, Arkon has taken some time in designing it so it will work will in various situations. The first thing that I noticed was the snug fit. The product requires you to have a sleeve on your device when you put it in the holder. The holders arms fit well around the sleeve, but are not tight so that is could be difficult to pull the device out. There is little to no movement of your device (from side to side) once it is put in. If you have GPS or car power adapter, connectivity to the bottom of the device is important. What amazed me is not only can you access the power jack and serial/USB ports on the bottom of the iPAQ itself but also the power jack on the PCMCIA sleeve. At first this might seem like overkill since the powering the iPAQ?s power jack will connect through to the PCMCIA sleeve, but actually it make sense because you could potentially leave your PCMCIA sleeve in the holder with the power attached and just take out your iPAQ. When you returned to your car, you wouldn?t have to re-plug in the power, just put your iPAQ back in the sleeve.
     My primary use for a PDA in my car is for music. Arkon also packages this mount in a model that comes with a wireless transmitter (I am told the embedded transmitter is better then the one I use), but I actually already had one so I did not see the reason of getting one embedded in the holder. The primary glitch in the SoundFeeder (at least in the SF100 which I use) is that at low speeds, you can hear a high-pitched frequency picked put by the engine. Some newer transmitters might try and filter this out, but the one I am using doesn?t, which can get annoying. My transmitter also comes with a 3V, 4.5V or 6V power pass though I have been told not to connect my iPAQ to this power feed because it could potential fry my iPAQ.  Arkon also offers a SoundFeeder SF121 which runs on battery power instead of the car's battery.  This transmitter is a good option if you have a use for FM wireless transmission outside your car (the SF100 requires a 12V car power source).
     The major drawback of the gooseneck mount is that you have to look down at your device. If you are trying to change songs, other mounts hold the device closer to your windshield where you can still see at least part of the road. Another drawback of this particular mount would be that once you put it in one car you are stuck, and if you are switching between cars you would need multiple mounts. Of course, Arkon has other solutions that cover both those problems.  For me, I only have one car and thus do not need to move the mount, and frankly, I like the positioning of having my device by my stereo and on a gooseneck where it is easy to move it about. 
     The CM425 gooseneck mount for the iPAQ will cost you just under $60, though the mount is well worth the money. To many companies are cheating on their products and using substandard materials, but Arkon looks to be one company that builds a product that will last. Arkon has a vast array of mounting solutions for not only the iPAQ, but for other PDA?s as well as cell phones. They can mount your PDA just about anywhere in your vehicle at a decent price.

Dave's Score - 9.0
This means, this product is about as close to "the best" as you can get.  This product embodies quality in its design and application, and is something I would use.  Though you still should consider it for yourself, most would probably be happy with this product even if they were unable to try it prior to purchase.

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For more on Arkon's products or to purchase an Arkon PDA Mount,
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June 2002

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