Provides: iPhone car cradle
Minimum Requirements: iPhone 3G(S)
So, you have the iPhone and the GPS app, but there’s still at least one more thing you need: a car cradle. You can’t just go driving with it in your hand, and it won’t work very well on the passenger side seat. In my endless pursuit of the perfect car cradle, I took a look at Kensington’s solution.
Above all other things, a car cradle needs to hold your device where it can be seen. The Kensington cradle does this, perhaps better than most. Its extra long, posable neck allows you to place your iPhone pretty much anywhere you want it to be. I really like this, but you should know that while you can place it nearly anywhere, your iPhone may bounce around as a result of the neck being so long. The end of the neck also pivots for easy portrait to landscape orientation adjustments.
The second thing I like to see in a car cradle is enhanced sound. This cradle approaches this problem in a different fashion than most others. Instead of plugging into the car’s power (which will later hurt it, in my opinion), it opts to enhance your iPhone’s internal speakers with some fancy physics. The audio is routed through a plastic chamber to the left side. As much as I thought it wouldn’t, it actually does work. It effectively increases the iPhone’s audio level to an appropriate level for navigational use. I had no issues while listening to music or holding conversations with this audio enhancement technique. It’s still possible to hear the guidance instructions of a GPS app. I still wish it had speakers of its own, though. This works, but speakers would work better.
And now, we’re to the last feature or function I’ve come to expect in GPS car cradles: car charger functionality. There’s none here. While it will allow for the use of a charger, one is not provided. I think this is just a missed opportunity. The only purpose for which I see most people using a car cradle is navigation. Using the GPS in your iPhone will drain its battery quite quickly, so if you’re going any farther than a 30 minute trip, you’ll need a charger. If there was a charger built into this, it would have also made it possible to include speakers. But then again, by not including the charger, they’ve reduced cost and, in turn, the price. You might already have a charger, so you don’t necessarily need one, and maybe you’re like me and you don’t ever have loud audio in your car. If you’re buying solely on price, this cradle might make a better choice for you; but if you want more features, you might want to look elsewhere.
Car cradles for the iPhone are available at most retailers, so this is obviously not your only choice. You could buy the TomTom car kit but if you don’t have the TomTom app, it is less appealing to spend the money for the enhanced GPS feature that won’t do a thing for you. You also could buy into Magellan’s version of the TomTom kit, which offers similar functionality with Magellan branding. Or you could just pick up whatever’s available at the store. I think Kensignton’s cradle is a great choice among car cradles with limited features. At $30 it’s a pretty good value and will not disappoint you unless you were expecting some of the features I complained about above. It’s a great compromise between price and features, though I do hate using the word “compromise.”