The advent of Personal Information Devices (PIDs) has meant that we’re always connected and have the world at our finger tips. It also means that we have more to carry around and, specifically in my case, more ‘stuff’ potentially flying around the cabin when I’m out road testing. Cup holders have become mobile phone holders and tablet PCs, well, sometimes they fit in the cubby hole or door pocket, but often they don’t. Most GPS devices are equipped with a suction mount to attach to your car’s windscreen or dashboard, which got me thinking about a solution to my ‘free range’ gadgets.
After a little ‘Googling’, I decided to get in touch with US-based RAM Mounting Systems as they have one of, if not, the widest range of mounts for an equally wide range of devices. I’ve also seen their mounts used by many of the adventure motorcycling crowd, which is a good vote of confidence, considering some of the conditions they venture into.
I stay connected via the ever-popular Apple iPad 2 and Apple iPhone 4. Why did I have to mention the specific model? Well, because the RAM Mount cradles are designed for each specific device in order to guarantee the best fit. At the same time, while the cradle is device specific, the suction cups and connecting arms are interchangeable with many of their products, making it more cost effective should you upgrade your device or ever need to swap between devices mounted in the same position.
First up is the RAM Mount for the iPhone 4. There are a number of options, but I elected to sample the most robust looking package that includes: a twist-lock, 83 mm suction cup; a 55 mm double-socket connecting arm, adjustable at both ends; as well as the cradle itself that’s made from a high-strength composite plastic. The suction cup and connecting arm are hewn from powder-coated marine-grade aluminium and their patented design also incorporates damping for shock and vibration, thereby ensuring less strain on the device.
The suction cup is quickly and easily secured to your vehicle’s windscreen, thanks to a twist-action lever that can be operated with one hand. The ball joints on either end of the connecting arm offer a wide range of motion for a combination that, near-as-makes-no-difference, gives you infinite adjustment and the best possible viewing angle. The composite cradle for the iPhone itself offers a snug fit, with zero free-play or movement. The cradle clasps also secure the device close to the frame and away from sensitive areas such as the screen, microphone or speakers and, crucially, still provides access to the data connection and all other control functions of the device.
With the iPhone in place and mounted to the windscreen, the RAM Mount offers an unhindered view of the screen and easy access to the phone’s functions. There is no vibration to speak of and the screen remains easy to read, even when venturing onto dirt roads. Most importantly, it allows you to keep your eyes on the road more of the time.
The same characteristics that make the iPhone mount so appealing, are also true for the larger iPad setup. This means the same sturdy construction methods are used, along with the convenience of having access to all the ports and buttons while the iPad is sat in the cradle. Once again, a couple of mounting options are available, but I went for a double suction cup (single cup unit shown above), double-socket connecting arm and the iPad specific cradle.
The iPad is physically a lot larger and I found the safest place to mount it without obstructing one’s view of the road, is at the bottom of the windscreen on the passenger side. Further away and sometimes a bit of a stretch to get to depending on the vehicle, but the bigger screen means it’s still easily legible. The added weight also meant that the iPad cradle needed to rest on the dashboard for added support in eliminating any slight movement, but the suction cups themselves are more than strong enough to hold the entire mount in place and on the Western Cape’s well-maintained roads this wasn’t much of an issue. When using apps that required the iPad’s built-in accelerometer, I found that mounting the cradle against the dash was enough to ensure accurate measurements, meaning additional suction cups and / or connecting arms are likely only required in more extreme situations.
In short, the RAM Mounts offer a safe, secure and far more practical solution for making use of your personal devices while on the move. For me, the iPhone RAM Mount has become almost as important as the phone itself and, after setting my driving position, installing it is usually my next priority when hoping into a vehicle. The number of people I see in traffic everyday who are looking down at their phones whilst driving, for whatever reason, is positively frightening. With personal gadgets such a prominent part of our lives and a trend that looks set to continue, solutions like the RAM Mount are ultimately a potential life-saver.
Do you use any mounts for your devices? If so, let us know your experience and whether you’re found them as useful as our Ed. has.
|Prices As Test (excl. VAT)|
|Apple iPad (RAM-B-166-AP8U)||R972|
|Apple iPhone 4 (RAM-B-166-AP9U)||R662|
All RAM Mount products have a lifetime warranty. RAM Mount products are available nationwide. Visit www.RAM-Mount.co.za for more information on their full range of products.