Time for another hardware review of some products that fill the gaps between manufacturer supplied mounting systems and laying your phone on your car seat beside you when you’re driving around.  There are a few suppliers of universal mounting systems that support the majority of devices available today, but Arkon Resources, Inc. has to be one of the first and most well known of the bunch.

Arkon have been making mobile mounting systems since the early 1990’s and they released the first universal mounting Pocket PC / PDA holder in 2000.  Since then, they have gone from strength to strength re-inventing their products frequently and finding innovative new ways to mount your devices. Totally off track, but they even have a toilet lighting system for during the night that glows a different color depending on the position of the toilet seat. Sorry, Back on track.

With your latest Android device giving so much functionality and replacing your GPS device in your vehicle, it’s no wonder that interest in car mount accessories is at an all time high.  So let’s find out more about the Smartphone holder products Arkon has to offer and a closer look at the review devices they sent us.

Before we start the review, here’s a little info taken from the Arkon Web site:

Arkon Resources, Inc. (Arkon®), is a manufacturer and global supplier of car mounting solutions used with Portable GPS Navigation Devices, SmartPhones, Satellite Radios, Laptops and Notebooks, Netbooks, and other mobile communication and portable devices. Arkon’s customers include many of the world’s most recognized brand names in portable navigation and wireless mobile communication.

So what did Arkon send us you ask?  Well, we have a nice selection of mounting systems that should work in just about any vehicle.  The SM412 is a Friction Dash Mount system with Universal cradle that easily sits on your dash board using a weighted non-slip base base. Then we have the SM415 Travelmount Deluxe Mini Windshield or Dashboard mount.  We also have SM429-SBH Removable Air Vent Mount.  For those of you who lead an active lifestyle, Arkon also included the SM-ARMBAND Sports Armband.

One nice feature about the units we received is the universal head unit that attaches to all the mounts they sent.  I’m assuming this is standard across most of their mounting systems so I would expect that you could purchase extra head units as new ones become available for your device, or if you just happen to break the head unit alone.  Also, if you decide to purchase a different size phone, you can simply purchase the new sized head unit.

The head units themselves are adjustable in many ways. The support feet on the bottom slide left to right for adjustment best suited for your device and to place the support feet so that any connectors on your phone are exposed and ready for connection.  The side gripper arms are spring loaded and run on a ratchet system that securely grips your phone once depressed. A quick press of the release lever on the side springs the grippers open to remove your phone.

Let’s take a look at each one of these products and see what they have to offer.

Model: SM412 Friction Dash Mount System with Universal cradle

This is the coolest of the products we had sent through and gets the most space in the review.  The other products all use some of the same components so the quality and control system is the same.

The Arkon Web Site Product information states:

SM412 : Mini Friction Dashboard Mount with Windshield Mount Option and Mega Grip Holder for Motorola Droid 2, Droid X, and Droid, HTC EVO 4G and HTC Droid Incredible, Apple iPhone (all models), Samsung Galaxy S, Google Nexus One, and Large Sized Smartphones

Arkon’s SM412 smartphone mount bundle includes two high quality pedestal mount options.

Dashboard and windshield mounts are ideal for use with GPS applications as they position your phone up high in the vehicle. The mini friction dashboard mount is suitable for deep, slightly slanted, or flat dashboards.


Photo from the Arkon SM412 Manual

The friction dash mount system is a fairly standard affair that I’ve used with GPS rental devices in previous car rentals I’ve had.  I have no idea if they were Arkon products, but from what I’ve seen it was almost identical.  The friction base on this device grips to almost any surface and keeps the whole mounting system safely seated on your dashboard.

It is stated that it can be used on flat or slightly slanted surfaces and I can confirm that in my friend’s BMW, which has a slanted dashboard and sports suspension, the pad did slowly slide down the dashboard.  I tried the mount in my Dodge Journey for a few days and had no issues at all.  It placed my phone in a very nice viewable position and remained stationary all the time. In case you may have some wandering cell phone issues, Arkon provide a safety hook you can attach to your dashboard and the rear of the base has a safety cable you simply place over the hook to stop it sliding off.  Nice touch and I’m guessing it was added based on previous experiences.

After using the unit for a few days, I noticed one slight irritation, and I do emphasize the word slight, there was a faint rattle coming from the inside the head unit, which sounded like something inside was a little loose.  Maybe it was the spring mechanism vibrating.  It wasn’t continuous and by no means was it a distraction, but it was there nonetheless.

The mounting arm easily attached to the base using the suction cup system (a fairly standard affair that you can find on almost any windshield suction system).  Pressing the lever into its locked position was effortless and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t remove the suction cup from the base without releasing the lever.  A good sign and safe feeling knowing that your suction cup is not going to work its way loose and your phone end up on the floor of your vehicle while you’re driving.

I tried a Google Nexus One, Samsung Vibrant and even a MyTouch Slide 3G in the head unit and all 3 phones fastened in securely.  I was surprised the MyTouch 3G held so well being the smallest device of the 3 and actually smaller than the recommended size for the head unit supplied.  Smaller head units are available for smaller phones.

Model: SM412 Friction Mini Windshield, Dashboard & Console Mount with Universal Cradle

The Arkon Web Site Product information states:

SM415 : Travelmount® Windshield, Dashboard, and Console Mount with Mega Grip Holder for Motorola Droid 2, Droid X, and Droid, HTC EVO 4G and HTC Droid Incredible, Apple iPhone (all models), Samsung Galaxy S, Google Nexus One, and Large Sized Smartphones
Arkon’s SM415 universal phone mount bundle includes two high quality pedestal mount options.
The Travelmount® deluxe mini windshield suction pedestal is most commonly used with GPS applications as it positions your phone up high in the vehicle. The circular adhesive disc transforms the windshield suction pedestal into a dashboard or console mount, the preferred method of mounting in Minnesota and California where the use of windshield mounts are restricted.

SM415 : Travelmount® Windshield, Dashboard, and Console Mount with Mega Grip Holder for Motorola Droid 2, Droid X, and Droid, HTC EVO 4G and HTC Droid Incredible, Apple iPhone (all models), Samsung Galaxy S, Google Nexus One, and Large Sized Smartphones Arkon’s SM415 universal phone mount bundle includes two high quality pedestal mount options.
The Travelmount® deluxe mini windshield suction pedestal is most commonly used with GPS applications as it positions your phone up high in the vehicle. The circular adhesive disc transforms the windshield suction pedestal into a dashboard or console mount, the preferred method of mounting in Minnesota and California where the use of windshield mounts are restricted.

The swivel mount assembly on this unit is identical to the unit supplied with the SM412, they basically swap out various components depending on the mounting configuration you want,  which is really nice and again, allows you to easily change out any component depending on your current situation.  The adhesive disc can be applied to your dashboard permanently, so care should be taken to ensure that you install this disc in the correct location the first time.  The face of the disc provides a surface similar to your windshield and securely holds the mounting arm in place using the suction cup system. I didn’t try to install the disc for the test, for obvious reasons, but when I attached the suction cup to the disc, there was no way it was being removed without releasing the suction cup release lever.

 

Model: SM429-SBH Universal Air Vent Swivel Mount with Universal Cradle

The Arkon Web Site Product information states:

SM429-SBH : Removable Air Vent Mount with Mega Grip Holder for Motorola Droid 2, Droid X, and Droid, HTC EVO 4G and HTC Droid Incredible, Apple iPhone (all models), Samsung Galaxy S, Google Nexus One, and Large Sized Smartphones

For Apple iPod
Arkon’s SM429-SBH mount attaches to your car’s horizontal air vent louvers.

Your car’s air vent is a popular mount location commonly used with devices featuring GPS applications as it positions them up high in the vehicle. The air vent is the preferred method of mounting in Minnesota and California where the use of windshield mounts are restricted.

Exactly as the name suggests, the SM429-SBH Universal Air Vent Swivel Mount is a mounting system that attaches into the air vents in your vehicle.  I had problems getting this system to insert easily into the vents of my Dodge Journey as the slatting system seemed to interfere with the locks.  I did get it to stay in place, but it took me a while.
Of all the systems I tested here, this was the best position in my vehicle.  The air vents are just below the top of my dashboard and I found this an unobtrusive but convenient location for my phone.  The other advantage is my phone doesn’t get hot on long journeys using the GPS anymore. The AC coming from my vent keeps the phone very cool.  A nice bonus to anyone with a modern smartphone who uses GPS frequently.

SM-ARMBAND : Sports Armband

The Arkon Web Site Product information states:

SM-ARMBAND : Sports Armband for Smartphones | Armband for iPhone 4, 3GS, 3G, Original, and iPod touch, BlackBerry, HTC, Motorola, and more

Features adjustable velcro strap for easy adjustment and comfort
Designed to fit most Smartphones and mobile phones
Made of stretchable, sweat resistant neoprene material
Features reflective markers for safety during nighttime sports activity

Check out the video below of the SM-ARMBAND:

Not getting much time for outdoor activities, I did slide this product onto my arm and inserted my Google Nexus One.  The device fit nicely, but I could have done with an extra set of hands to fasten the velcro straps around my arm.  The clear plastic case feels like it would protect your phone from the elements and fits securely inside without a chance of accidentally falling out.  If I get another chance to get out on the bike, I’ll be sure to give this arm band a  better shot, but from initial impressions, it looks and feels like a nice addition to the Arkon line of products.

If you want more information about the Arkon products reviewed here or the many other accessories they have available, head over to the Arkon site and check out their extensive catalog.

Like what you read in this review? Purchase your Arkon accessories through the AndroidSPIN accessory store.

 

6 Responses

  1. ShadyGambino

    Pretty cool review, I might check out the vent mount and armband for workin out.

    Reply
  2. ShadyGambino

    Pretty cool review, I might check out the vent mount and armband for workin out.

    Reply
  3. robert sichel

    we think your products are great we have a cm12, we just bought a new car and my wife likes everything to be color coordinated. Need to know if you make this in brown or dark tan, anything but black

    Reply
  4. robert sichel

    sent an email your responce was it was a duplicate not so as this was the first time i emailed you. hope you got my first email. trying to find uot if you make the arkon cm012 in anyother coloe than black?

    Reply

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