Product Requirements: Any Palm-top PDA, and a
cup-holder installed in your vehicle
I know I am not the only person out there that engages in the efficient habit
of multi-tasking during every available minute. Sometimes, during my 45 minute
trip to and then from the ranch where I work, I use my almost hour long commute to catch up
on phone calls while riding in the truck. I have a "hands-free" mobile
phone built into my Toyota that allows me to talk and drive, without ever taking
my hands off the wheel – except for the initial dialing.
I drive a rather straight stretch of highway that is seldom busy, that I know
like the back of my hand. Sometimes this can be a bad thing, as I will catch
myself doing things that no safe driver would ever even consider. Not only have
I been guilty of reading People magazine while traveling; I have also been
guilty of pulling my PDA out of my bag, and either looking up a phone number, or
jotting a quick note. Like anyone else that engages in destructive behavior, I
tell myself that I have everything under control, and that nothing bad is ever
going to happen to me.
There are times, when I am engaging in this behavior, that I think that it
would be so much more convenient, if there were a way to make my PDA more
accessible while I was driving. Sure would be handy if there was something out
there that kept my PDA right in front of my face, while I was supposed to be
watching the road. Enter Arkon, and their Universal
Cup Holder Mount for Palm® OS & Pocket PC Handhelds.
The Arkon Cup Holder Mount is made of heavy duty ABS plastic,
and is a very ruggedly designed and easily adjustable piece of equipment. It
basically allows you to temporarily mount your PDA in your vehicle’s cup-holder.
There is a base that adjusts to fit almost every size cup-holder out there. A
four inch extender comes up from the base, and attaches to the adjustable easel,
which sits an inch above the extender. You can move the easel to whatever angle
you need in order to see it perfectly while driving.
Once installed in your cup-holder, the Arkon seems quite firmly held. It is very easy to adjust the width of the base – you
simply turn the knob to retract or extend the cup-holder arms.
Now obviously if you have a flimsy cup-holder that jiggles when you have a
cup of coffee inserted – you will have the same jiggling problem when your PDA
is mounted there, too. But otherwise, the Arkon mount will hold your PDA as
steadily as the road allows. Depending on the weight of your PDA, and how
loosely you have adjusted the base to fit your cup-holder, your Arkon may tilt a
bit when you hit road bumps. It is a simple thing to try a couple adjustments
and find one that holds sufficiently.
Your PDA is held in the Arkon mount with four adjustable arms,
that are padded with a foam cover. You can manipulate each arm to sit so that
they won’t cover access to charging, headphone, or serial ports, etc.
The spring-loaded, sliding bottom of the easel moves up and
accommodate almost all handheld PDAs.
I was able to fit every PDA I owned into the easel, including
the iPAQ with the Silver Slider sleeve attached.
Underneath the area where your PDA sits, there is a foam pad
with two removable cut-outs that you can insert AAA batteries into, if that is
what your PDA requires. If you’d like, you can even put a mini post-it™ note
pad in the hole. It will fit perfectly.
There is even a convenient stylus & pen combo mounted on
the right side, so that you can jot those brain-bombs as they occur to you,
directly onto your PDA. Traffic be damned!
Now, I understand that there are those of you that have longer
commutes to and from work. People that live in places like LA, where traffic
grid-lock makes a 45 minute trip into a 3 hour ordeal. I know that you spend
more time parked than you do moving. The truth of the matter is that you don’t
need this product. You can simply hold your PDA in your hand, and do whatever
you need to do; because you are not moving. and won’t be for a while.
That leads me to a simple conclusion: there is simply no way
around it – this product was made to be used while the vehicle is moving.
I, of all people, realize that there are times when having my PDA easily
accessible while driving might actually be a good thing. If I had a GPS unit
attached, for example: I could take my eyes off the road, and look at my PDAs
face to see where I was supposed to be, versus the road that I am actually on.
Until the day when verbal directions from your PDA becomes a reality, this just
doesn’t even sound safe, or practical – considering the poor daylight viewing of
most PDAs – with the exception of the iPAQ.
I also know that it is convenient to have the PDA in a holder, such as this,
while it is charging – that way when you take a curve really quick, your PDA
doesn’t go flying. But $50 for a PDA holder seems a little steep – when it could
be just as safe inside your bag, or jacket pocket.
The only time I really felt like it was truly "safe" to use the
Arkon mount while moving, was when I was listening to Mp3s from my PDA. I was
able to charge my PDA and also have a cassette adapter attached so I could
listen to Mp3s over my truck’s stereo system. Because I tested the mount as an
"Mp3 player holder" while using my HP Jornada 548, I was not able to
see the screen in the sunlight, so I was not tempted to try adjusting anything.
I just let the songs play, and enjoyed not having my Jornada on the seat, like I
would have placed it otherwise.
I don’t know that I would attach a keyboard through the bottom opening while
my PDA was mounted in this holder, as they suggest you can – that just seems
like a bit too
Okay – at this time, I am going to warn you that I am fixing to climb up on a
soap-box. You’ve read the meat of my review, and you know about the product, and
what it can do. If you want to stop reading now, you are more than welcome to.
For those of you that are open to a little ranting, read on….
What I find absolutely remarkable about this product, is that in this day of
litigious reality, a company would put out a product such as this, without a
single warning not to use it when your vehicle was moving.
Not even in small print is the possibility mentioned that driving while using
this product might be hazardous not only to your health, but to the health of
the guy that you might hit while you are looking up something on your PDA. As a
matter of fact, there is no small print.
While some might find this refreshing, because after all – we are all growing
immune to superfluous printed warnings; doesn’t it seem odd to you that it
didn’t even occur to them to cover their butt a tiny bit, and print a simple
What I am trying to figure out, is if they have more faith in the public than
your average company; or if they just overlooked the fact that if you were
unlucky enough to hit someone while using their product, the likelihood of Arkon
being involved in the resulting lawsuit would run really high. In this day of $2
million dollar judgments for spilled coffee, I just can’t imagine that they
could escape unscathed, after creating a product with the design such that you
would assume it was made to be used while driving.
In Business Law, I learned that: "Generally, a manufacturer must warn
those who purchase its product of the harms that can result from the misuse of
the product as well. If a particular misuse of a product is foreseeable, a court
normally will hold that the manufacturer had a duty to warn of the dangers
associated with such misuse."**
So my question would have to be, "What is Arkon thinking??"
Look: I know I am not your mother, and I don’t think you deserve to be talked
down to in any way. But I simply have to question what might be going on in
anyone’s head that would honestly think that it was okay to install this in
their car, and then use it while driving around. Because let’s face it – if
you’re parked, you don’t need it.
Will hold just about any PDA in your vehicle’s cup-holder
Hidden Cavity can hold batteries or Post-it™ Notes
Can attach GPS, charger, modem cables, etc., etc. to bottom of PDA while in
Convenient when listening to Mp3s
Dangerous to use PDA while driving
Most color PDAs will not be easily visible in daylight situations
**p 434 Business Law Today, Fourth Edition, by Roger LeRoy Miller
and Gaylord A. Jentz