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View Full Version : Gomadic Universal Windshield Mount Reviewed

Dave Beauvais
03-07-2005, 06:30 PM
<img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/beauvais-feb05-gomadic-0.jpg" /><br /><br /><b>Product Category:</b> Accessory<br /><b>Manufacturer:</b> <a href="http://www.gomadic.com/">Gomadic.com</a><br /><b>Where to Buy:</b> <a href="http://www.gomadic.com/pdamoauho.html">Gomadic.com</a><br /><b>Price:</b> $19.95 USD (Unpowered); $39.95 USD (Powered)<br /><b>Specifications:</b> Dimensions: Flexible arm: 8.00 inches; PDA mount: 2.75 W x 5.00 H x 0.75 D inches; Arms: 3.65 inches open, 2.5 inches closed completely. Mounts can be used with virtually any Pocket PC without expansion packs attached. Powered models are device-specific due to device charging connectors and require a 12V automotive cigarette lighter-style power connector. All models require a glass window or other flat, smooth, and non-porous surface to mount to.<br /><br /><b>Pros:</b><li>Extremely strong suction cup mount;<br /><li>View Pocket PC screen without taking eyes off road;<br /><li>Stable - does not bounce around a lot while driving;<br /><li>Unpowered version is usable with multiple devices and models.<b>Cons:</b><li>Suction cup does not hold securely in extremely cold or extremely hot temperatures;<br /><li>Cannot be used with Pocket PCs equipped with expansion packs;<br /><li>Grip arms may press side buttons of certain Pocket PC models.<b>Summary:</b><br />Looking for a way to drive around but still safely use your Pocket PC as an MP3 player or navigation system? The line of automotive mounts from Gomadic may be just what you're looking for.<br /><br />Read on for the full review!<!><br /><PAGEBREAK><br /><span><b>Let's Drive!</b></span><br />For the last three years I have been using mapping software on my Pocket PC to help me find and navigate to clients' locations or to find my way around road closings and construction in unfamiliar areas. The software is very handy but actually using it while driving forced me to do some rather unsafe things on occasion. Taking your eyes off the road to look at a Pocket PC in your hand is not something I recommend people do on a regular basis; you're not looking where you're driving and you have only one hand on the wheel. This is a recipe for an accident, especially at night or in heavy traffic.<br /><br />A little over a year ago, Gomadic introduced a line of powered and unpowered automobile windshield mounts for use with Pocket PCs. The powered models plug into your car's cigarette lighter or power socket and can be used to keep your Pocket PC charged as you drive. The unpowered models are "universal," meaning they can hold nearly any Pocket PC and are not limited to one series of Pocket PC due to a device-specific power plug. With the universal models, you can use the charging adapters available from your device manufacturer, so the mount can last through several Pocket PCs! The version of the mount I reviewed is the unpowered Universal Windshield Mount.<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/beauvais-feb05-gomadic-1.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 1: The Gomadic Universal Windshield Mount holding an iPAQ hx4700.</i><br /><PAGEBREAK><br /><span><b>Description and Features</b></span><br />The Universal Windshield PDA Auto Mount is a very simple product. It consists of a powerful suction cup, a firm but flexible metal arm with a plastic sheath covering it, and an adjustable mounting platform which the PDA clips into. The suction cup has a mechanism which pulls the cup away from the surface of the glass, making its grip incredibly strong. The arm of the mount is stiff enough that it doesn't bounce around too much while driving, and the PDA platform itself grips the Pocket PC securely with its adjustable arms. It can open or close enough to accommodate nearly any Pocket PC.<br /><br />When I had my iPAQ h5455, using this mount was the one and only time that I was happy that the h5000 series' headphone jack is on the bottom of the device. That position allowed the wire from a cassette adapter or FM transmitter to be routed out of the way easier. For most other Pocket PCs, which have the headphone jack on the top or side, the wire can usually drop down behind the mount so it doesn't block the screen. The bottom of the mount is designed so that charging ports are easily accessible.<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/beauvais-feb05-gomadic-2.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 2: A Dell Axim X50v in the Universal Windshield Mount. Note the charging port is completely accessible in case you wanted to use a Dell automotive power adapter with this unpowered mount.</i><br /><br />The mount can be placed pretty much anywhere on the car's windshield, though I suspect most people will want it near the center. I tried it on the left side of the windshield, but the curve of the glass prevented the suction cup from staying attached for longer than a minute or two. When mounted in the center, I was able to push buttons or touch the screen with my fingers without actually removing my hand from the steering wheel. Mounted low on the window, your view of the road is not blocked much at all.<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/beauvais-feb05-gomadic-3.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 3: This is me pressing a button on my iPAQ while still keeping that hand ready to grip the steering wheel if necessary. Chances are, my other hand would be on the wheel were it not holding the camera. :)</i><br /><br />If you don't want to put the mount on your windshield for some reason, a smooth plastic disc with an adhesive pad on the back ships with the mount. This disc could be attached to the dashboard or other surfaces in the vehicle to provide a smooth, flat surface on which to attach the suction cup. I did not test this configuration because I'm not fond of the idea of sticking adhesive things to my car. :) I did attach the mount to the plastic disc overnight, however, and it was still attached the next morning. The plastic disc is nowhere near as smooth as glass, so I do not know how well it would hold under road vibrations and bumps.<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/beauvais-feb05-gomadic-4.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 4: This is a view from the side. You can see the suction cup, the flexible arm, and the PDA and the platform it's mounted on.</i><br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/beauvais-feb05-gomadic-5.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 5: A view from outside the car looking in. While it doesn't look like the suction cup is very securely attached, it had been in this position for about a month without falling off once. In this case, the mount holds a Dell Axim X50v.</i><br /><PAGEBREAK><br /><b><span>Problems I've Noticed</span></b><br />The most serious problem I encountered could be important depending on the temperature extremes where you live. I have found that when the temperature gets below freezing, the plastic suction cup becomes so rigid that instead of flexing when driving over bumps, it simply falls off the window! Similarly, in extremely hot temperatures, such as when sitting in a parking lot all day under the hot summer sun, the plastic becomes so soft and flexible that it falls off the window then, too. Neither of these seem to be a problem if you remove the mount from the window and then reattach it before you start driving. For the safety of your Pocket PC and its screen, I wanted to mention this. I almost had a mild heart attack when my trusty iPAQ fell from the window toward the floor of the car; I could imagine the LCD shattering as it impacted the shift knob or something on its way down. 8O Thankfully, it emerged unharmed.<br /><br />A drawback to this product is that it can't be used with PDAs in their cases or with expansion sleeves attached. This means that those who use an iPAQ with, say, a CompactFlash GPS receiver or Expansion Pack Plus with auxiliary battery are out of luck with this mount. Cases or expansions packs will make the device either too wide or too thick for the arms to grip.<br /><br />Another problem may affect you if your Pocket PC has buttons or a jog dial on the side. My old h5455 and my current hx4700 do not have any problems, but the Dell Axim X50v that I use at work has issues because the arms on the mount press the note record button on the side when squeezed together.<br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/beauvais-feb05-gomadic-6.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 6: In this photo you can see the Universal Windshield Mount's grip arms pressing the record button on a Dell Axim X50v. This is rather annoying. On this model Pocket PC, the only way to prevent this is to switch on the button and touchscreen lock, which limits the usefulness of the device considerably.</i><br /><PAGEBREAK><br /><span><b>Conclusions</b></span><br />The use of a mount for your Pocket PC while driving makes life safer for you, your passengers, and your fellow drivers. By being able to glance over at your Pocket PC without fully taking your eyes off the road or your hand off the steering wheel, you are better equipped to deal with sudden changes in road conditions or to avoid the idiot who just cut you off in rush hour traffic. The Gomadic mounts are solid, well-designed products that perform their duty almost flawlessly. If you drive and operate a Pocket PC, you owe it to yourself (and those around you) to buy one of these mounts.<br /><br /><b>Photo Credit</b><br />Product photo at the beginning of this review was provided courtesy of Gomadic.

Jonathon Watkins
03-08-2005, 11:19 AM
Good review Dave! I'm now tempted to get a GPS unit. They have become very cheap recently. I still can't quite justify it though. :?

If I do get one, then I think that Bluetooth is the way to go as it's universal and simple. I've just got to make sure I carry plenty of batteries. :?

As you mentioned, the way the mount grips the X50v would give me pause for thought. Is there no other way of setting up the unit so it avoids pressing the record button?

Underwater Mike
03-11-2005, 03:07 PM
I have one of these, and it works great. IMO, this unit is a great value. I have not experienced any of the suction issues you've mentioned in temperature extremes.

On my X5, the side buttons did get pressed originally, as you noted in the review. I found two solutions: First, you can cut away the cushioning foam on the offending clamp arm in the spot where it contacts the button. Or, you can mount the PPC in the cradle so that it sits a little higher than normal (i.e., does not rest completely on the lower two supports).

For me the first method was unacceptable, so I went with the second. I thought that the unit might be unstable without the PPC nestled as snugly as possible, but over the last year I have not had a single problem with the Axim falling out of the clamps. Adjusting the vertical position of the PPC allows you to clamp the side arms down really tight, and they hold well. Works great with my Belkin BT GPS, or for contact infg in the car.

Also, I think the ribbed goosneck design in your pix is due to having an older unit. I've had mine since last spring, and it is a smooth neck, as in the Gomadic photo.