FlexPed iPod Stand
Company: Thought Out
Price: $39.99 – $63.99
A few podcasts ago, I was talking about how I finally upgraded my car stereo to a JVC model with an audio input mini-jack on the front of the stereo. The reason for this was simple: I wanted to do away with the FM Transmitters I had been using to get my iPod music to play in the car. While many FM Transmitters work well, there is simply no comparison to an iPod connected directly to the stereo for much higher quality music.
The problem I had run into was where to put my forth generation iPod. I was using the docking station that came with the unit, sitting it on my center console, but it was not the ideal solution. First, I had to run two wires to it, and there was no place to mount the base station securely. So my iPod was one quick turn of the steering wheel away from sliding and falling to the floor. Not an ideal situation any way you look at it.
I explained all this during the podcast, and was happy to see a response to my problem from Mike at ThoughtOut.Biz, makers of the fantastic PED iPod stands. Seems ThoughtOut agreed with me that there was no one great solution for mounting an iPod in a car (I hate the cup holder solutions, as I use my cup holders for cups!) and they had come up with a new product to address just this problem. Mike told me about their newly released FlexPed, which combined with the imp (see below) provides just the type of solution I had been looking for. They offered to ship a FlexPed out to me for review, and I happily agreed.
The FlexPed idea is a simple one, surprisingly so when you figure that no one else had come up with the idea yet. It is a 9-inch flexible steel tube, with a mounting bracket on one end, and an iPod stand on the other. Using the same type of iPod stand mechanism that their PED2 employs (Read my review here), the FlexFed looked like a winner to me.
Once the unit arrived, I set out to find the ideal place in my car to mount the unit. While ThoughtOut provides durable double-sided tape (AdPad) for mounting, I found this would not work for me. I had no one good place for the base of the unit to mount to. And once I found one, I found the included tape simply not strong enough to hold the heavy and well-built FlexPed in place. So I took a somewhat different approach. Unscrewing the mounting base plate from the bottom of the flexible tubing, I drilled a small hole (just slightly larger than the FlexPeds base plate screw) and placed the mounting bracket underneath, so that it looks like the FlexPed simply extends out naturally from my center console. I am also much more comfortable mounting it this way that relying on double-sided tape (AdPad as it is called) because here in Michigan, tape does not last long in the sub-zero weather. While 3M (makers of the AdPad) state that this tape actually gets stronger in the cold, I am still more comfortable installing via hardware, not tape.
Once the FlexPed was mounted, it is a simple matter of bending the neck in such a way to make using my iPod a snap. I can adjust the height, the pitch, and the angle of my iPod now so that no matter where or how I am sitting in the drivers seat, the iPod is at a level I am comfortable with. As I have mentioned in the past, I think the user interface of the iPod is fine, unless you are driving. Then, not so much. And not having the iPod mounted in the car at in an optimal position only makes the matter worse. So the FlexPed has been indispensable in this regard.
The actual part of the FlexPed that holds the iPod is adjustable to accommodate any iPod model, save for the shuffle. It can also be used with cell phones, blackberries, PDAs, and other like gadgets. (Sadly, not my PSP. Then again, what would I need an automobile stand in my car for a portable gaming system?) To adjust the type of gadget or iPod the FlexPed is holding, the user is required to use the included spacer tool kit to swap out different sized plastic spacers. This is easy to do, but it does require the buyer to keep track of the extra spacers for future needs. I put mine in my glove compartment.
So now that the FlexPed was mounted and ably holding my iPod at the desired height and angle, it was time to get power to it and sound out of it. Here is where the very cool imp came in. The imp is a cigarette lighter plug on one end, and an iPod-docking plug on the other. This provides recharging and operational power to your iPod, so that you are not relying on the longevity of your iPods battery on long car trips. More, the imp also has an female audio mini-jack output plug as well, so that in my case, all I needed was a male-to-male mini-plug wire to connect my iPod directly to the line-in jack on my car stereo. And trust me, the audio quality between a direct connect iPod and an FM Transmitter is night and day.
You can purchase the FlexPed without the imp for only $39.99, but it is well worth paying $63.99 to get both. This provides you with lineout audio and iPod charging on the go with the (excuse the pun) flexibility the Flexped affords you.
The FlexPed / imp is a must for those who want to listen to their iPods in the auto. It is easily mountable, has great adjustability, and is priced right.