Kensington Windshield/Vent Car Mount with Sound Amplified Cradle for iPhone
Owners of iPhones who make daily commutes to and from work can relate when I say that finding an optimum arrangement for using your iPhone in your vehicle is a source of constant frustration. This is especially true in states such as my home state of New York, where only hands-free use of a cellular phone while driving is legal. Without a Bluetooth® or audio-in jack on your dash, hearing your calls or listening to music can be difficult at best. Kensington has tried to help us out by introducing their new sound amplified cradle for the iPhone.
The Kensington Sound Amplified Cradle for the iPhone offers two mounting options: on your windshield via suction cup or on an air vent using a specialized mounting bracket that’s supplied in the kit. Having used the car mount extensively for the past month, I can say that the windshield mount is of superior quality. It offers a snug fit for your iPhone and stays firmly in place. I consider it one of the very best mounting options I’ve seen on the market for the iPhone. The vent mount Kensington supplies works well, but I don’t like having hot or cold air constantly blowing on the back of my iPhone. Even with the vents turned off, some air still leaks out. It’s a mounting option I’m not personally comfortable with, but use your own preference when choosing your mounting option. Check your local laws in case your home state has laws against windshield mounted devices.
The base of the cradle holds interchangeable rubber inserts that provide a seal on the speaker and microphone at the base of your iPhone. Kensington supplies various rubber brackets designed to fit any model of iPhone/case combination. Although the cradle is designed primarily for the iPhone, I can still manage to fit my slimmer iPod Touch into it too. The initial fit is good, but after a month’s use, I’ve noticed that one rubber insert doesn’t quite stay in position in the cradle’s base. I haven’t noticed any affect on the functionality of the cradle, however. In principle, these rubber inserts are essential for the proper amplification of your iPhone’s sound output. The back of the cradle is hollowed out with internal channels that focus the sound from your iPhone’s speaker out to the left side of the cradle. It effectively doubles your speaker’s volume.
Using an iPhone 3G, I still find it difficult to hear my iPhone’s sound while in the cradle. I drive a small car, a 2009 Toyota Corolla (spare me the jokes — I had the recalls repaired), so it’s possible that external noises such as road and wind noise are more of an issue for me. While driving in town, I can hear the cradle’s output fine, albeit the sound is quite "tinny," not even close to the quality from a built in audio jack. At highway speeds or with the air vents turned up, I find it difficult to hear the amplification. At those speeds, the sound from my iPhone seems louder, but not enough to carry out a phone conversation.
To be fair, I have given the cradle a try in my fiancé’s Nissan Quest minivan. The sound quality from the cradle is definitely improved in the minivan because it’s better insulated from exterior sounds. In the minivan I can easily carry out a phone conversation at speeds up to 55-60 mph, but beyond that the road noise makes clearly hearing the iPhone’s output difficult.
While there are situations where Kensington’s Sound Amplified Cradle for the iPhone will assist you in hearing your music or phone calls, it’s my opinion that there are still some very difficult hurdles to clear before your iPhone’s speaker will compete with the sound quality that can be obtained from your vehicle’s built-in audio system. Kensington’s latest addition to the market can certainly offer those of you without those options an improvement that will help in certain situations. If for no other reason, give it a try because as a stand alone car mount it is one of the best I have ever used.