(Photo courtesy of ProClip website)
We all know that we shouldn’t use our cell phones while driving, yet most of us still do. To try and not be “that driver” who is fumbling to pick up the phone that fell on the floor, using my knees to steer on the highway or holding the phone with one hand while sipping an extra hot half-caf soy Venti Latte with the other, I’ve been using the ProClip Mounting System for the past few years.
The idea is simple: mounting your cell phone, PDA, etc. in your vehicle, but the implementation is unique. Rather than using a generic holder that clips into your vent or takes up a cup holder, ProClip is a two-part system that combines a dedicated mounting bracket specifically for your vehicle with a dedicated holder for your specific device (phone, PDA, music player, etc). As their site says, you “choose your holder for your device” and “choose the mount for YOUR vehicle”.
Here’s what the holder looks like with the optional tilt swivel attachment added on:
Here’s what the mount looks like without a holder attached. It matches most gray interiors and really doesn’t look too bad to me:
Let’s first look at the part that connects to your vehicle–the mount. On the site you’re presented with drop-down menus that narrow your search down by Make, Model and Year. It has a huge selection of vehicles and unless you drive a Ferrari or Lamborghini (not listed unfortunately) you should be able to find at least one option for your vehicle. For both of my cars (a 2007 Mazda 3 and a 2004 Nissan Murano) there are actually two options: the Mazda one can be mounted on the upper mid section of the dashboard or on the right side of the center console. The Nissan options are for either the left or right side of the center console.
For both of my cars I chose the right side of the center console (next to the passenger’s legs) since that was a more convenient place to look, easier to reach, and I wouldn’t be knocking into it each time I sat down. I do find that I caution passengers not to bump into it when they sit down, yet have not actually had anyone knock it off.
The mount itself is quite nice and actually snaps into the seam between the center console and the surrounding frame. It includes double-sided tape (one side already stuck onto the mount) for a more permanent installation. In both of my cars I have not used the tape and have never had the mounts come off without being intentionally removed. Installation is easy, but a bit scary at first. The included instructions (also available on their website for each specific mount) are very nicely detailed, but involved jamming a wedge into the seam to separate it, then popping the tab on the mount in. If I drove a really nice car, I might be a bit reluctant to pop the holder in, but honestly it’s not going to damage the car (not a guarantee!).
So now that the mount is in place there are two more things to choose: the holder and whether you want a fixed or swivel solution. The device holder is chosen similarly to the mount, by Brand and model.
There are actually four options for the Omnia: Standard Holder, Holder with Tilt Swivel, Holder with Tilt Swivel and Cigarette Lighter Charger, and Holder with Tilt Swivel and Straight Cable for Fixed Install. I chose the Holder with Tilt Swivel which allows me to tilt and rotate the device rather than keep it upright (as the Standard Holder does) in order to rotate it so it’s at the right angle for me. The other options add dedicated (aka clean looking) cables for charging the phone. The “straight cable” is just a non-coiled charging cable that can be more easily hidden (again, for a cleaner looking solution).
Here is what my installations look like in the Mazda 3 with a holder for the Samsung Omnia. You’ll notice that since I didn’t purchase the holder with included charging cable I just plug directly into the phone. It works for me, but having it all integrated would be pretty cool.
One potential problem with this solution is that it’s not future proof. If you upgrade either your car or your device, you need to purchase a new mount or holder which can run from $25 for the Standard Holder up to $79 for the Holder with Tilt Swivel and Straight Cable. That’s sometimes more than the upfront cost for a new phone! I have upgraded twice since I started using the system and each time I wait a week before inevitably buying the new holder.
One thing to note is that since the holder is designed for each specific device, odds are you’ll have to remove the device from your fancy leather case. This isn’t such a big deal for easily removed cases, but for the cases that fit quite snugly or snap on, it might be a deal breaker (for either the case or the holder).
Along with the two required pieces, there are some options you can also add. There are quick release plates that let you switch between device holders (you still need to purchase dedicated holders for each device), charging and data connection cables, tilt/swivel plates, a handlebar mount for your bicycle, extension arms, etc. There’s also a horizontal extension plate that allows you to hold two devices on a single mount, which is pretty cool.
So, the big question is “Is it worth the cost”? For me, the answer is “absolutely”. I don’t know what I’d do without this in my car. Being able to pop my phone in, plug in the charging cable, hook up the aux cable to listen to music, and be able to access my phone semi-safely is a huge benefit. My phone never slides into that gap between the front seat and center console (aka the black hole that no hand exits unscratched) and never falls onto the floor when I have to slam on the breaks because I was distracted by talking on the phone. Also, when I do need to use the phone to make or receive calls, it’s somewhat safer since I’m not fumbling to hold the phone and press keys. If you use your phone regularly in your car to talk, listen to music/audio books, or just want to make sure your phone is in-reach and charged, this is a great solution.
(Please always use a hands-free device when using your phone in your car! I use the Zivio Boom Bluetooth Wireless Headset and LOVE it.)