Monday, March 04, 2013

Mountek MT5000 hands free car mount

I recently purchased the Mountek MT5000 hands free car mount from Meritline.com which I saw in their Monday Madness Email Deals (I think). Regularly $24.95 + shipping but it was on sale for $17.99 + free shipping. I've paid for other hands free mounts around $15-$20 so I figured this would be a decent enough investment. (a few images of it below)

  


Besides the price, what caught my attention was that it used the CD slot in the radio for mounting instead of a suction cup or a clamp onto the air vent. I mean who really uses CDs to play music these days especially with the auxiliary input or direct control for MP3 players these days?

I ordered this and another item that I'm sure I'll write about some day on January 21st. I received it on February 1st. I thought this was shipped from a domestic warehouse but I can't be completely sure. If it was, the free shipping took longer than most domestic free shipping on other products I've ordered online. Since it was almost two weeks, I'd think it was definitely from a domestic warehouse because internationally I've received things in 3 weeks or more.

Anyway, the packaging was pretty good. It came in a very sturdy cardboard box instead a bubble-wrap padded envelope. There was a small booklet of instruction but I didn't use it as I had previously googled this item before purchasing. When I did, I saw a video review which explained how the mount was secured in the CD slot.

A couple of days after receiving it was when I was finally able to get it into my car stereo CD player slot to test it out. When tightening the mount inside the CD slot, I was started to think what kind of damage I could cause to it...whether it is with the mouth of the slot or the playback ability of it. The mount doesn't go much deeper than a 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch but when I began to tighten the screw to secure the mount I could see the mouth of the CD slot move. The more I did it the more it moved but I didn't do it to the point of actual breakage. I'm not stupid! I actually didn't tighten it a whole lot and I've had no problems with the mount slipping or moving within the CD slot.

I tested it with a next-to-latest generation iPod Touch and a Samsung SIII with an Otterbox cover.

With the iPod Touch, the MT5000 did quite well. It was easy enough to size the holding arms down to fit the Touch. It was also fairly simple to push the button release to remove the Touch after use. With the Touch, the padding on the arms seemed to keep their shape while securely holding the Touch in place.

With the Samsung SIII, the MT5000 did well enough. Just like with the Touch, the holding arms and release button functioned as they should. However, the holding arms felt like they weren't as sturdy with the wider size of the SIII. When squeezing the arms together, it seemed like they bent back a little in a sort of "V" shape instead of holding their "U" shape (hope that makes sense). Even without the Otterbox the arms seemed weak. I had to squeeze them tight enough to be able to hold the SIII in place while I manipulated the SIII for either changing music, dialing a phone number or getting driving directions. A couple of times I didn't have them tight enough and my SIII slide out and to the floor board. After some practice, I was able to get the SIII fully secured without movement but I felt like consistent use of it this way could weaken and damage or break the holding arms. Sometimes bending a bit is better than more rigidity but I'll just have to wait and see how long it lasts if/before I break it.

My takeaways:

Pros: I didn't pay much more if anything more than I would for any hands-free mount from Fry's Electronics, Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon or wherever. So far, it's done what it's supposed to do and does it fairly well. I like the fact that when I need my air vents, particularly in the summer for the A/C, one or more are not being blocked by my SIII/Touch. I like the simplicity of the design and it's very beneficial to me that it can hold my iPod Touch as well as my Samsung SIII (w or w/o case).

Cons: The overall construction of the MT5000 seems sturdy enough except for the holding arms. They seem a little less solid compared to the rest of the MT5000 and the slight flexibility of them could lead to breakage while trying to push them together to secure your device.

Depending on how big your device is, where you place it in the MT5000 and where your CD slot is on your radio, it could block the display of your radio and even disrupt the air flow from your center vents—again depending on your vehicle type and arrangement of your radio. When I have my SIII in the MT5000 situated where the top of the SIII is lined up with the top of the MT5000, the SIII blocks my LCD display of my radio. For instance, if I have it in auxiliary and am using the SIII to listen to music, I cannot see the volume level because of the way the layout is...the volume is centered during auxiliary use and the SIII is dead center. This is not a total bust but sometimes I just like to know how high/low the volume is currently set. Now when I have my SIII in the MT5000 situated where the bottom of the SIII is lined up with the bottom of the MT5000, the top of the SIII slightly blocks the center vents on my Honda CRV. It doesn't stop the airflow or block it like a holder that sits directly on the vent. It does have some clearance space of maybe 3-5 inches between the vents and the SIII. However, it could limit the air flow to the backseats. I just don't know for sure at this time as it's "winter" in Texas and I have no need to use my dashboard vents.

And to compare this to another product or two I own and use(d): The first mount has a suction cup and a bendable 4-inch arm that I used during our trip to Florida and Taos this past summer (see images below). I used it on the left-hand side of my steering wheel on the windshield (suction cup only) because it was too far away if I put it centered on the windshield. I also felt like it hendered or distracted my vision a little when I initially stuck it centered on the windshield. It came with a disk that you can use for adhering to the dashboard but I didn't know if it would jack up my dashboard or not so I haven't used the disk. This particular mount cost $17.99 at Fry's Electronics. After applying a little water (or spit when I didn't have water) to help the suction cup adhere better, it stayed mounted while my iPod Touch with the power cord and auxiliary cable rested in the cradle for the entire 12-hour drives—Dallas to Fort Walton Beach, FL and Dallas, TX to Taos,NM. While in each of the respective cities, it stayed adhered most of the time. Occasionally, I would accidentally knock it off while inserting/removing the Touch from the cradle. However, it easily re-adhered without issue and lasted until the next time I knocked it off. It currently resides under the center console of my CRV because I need to clean the windshield AND the suction cup because both are pretty dirty and the mount won't stay properly adhered. I've been too lazy to clean either. Then I saw this deal on the MT5000, I thought I wouldn't have to clean it after all. I'm lazy...I know. I figured that if I ever stuck the disk to my dash or window, that the suction cup would work even way better but I still am hesitant. Maybe I'll do it on my van dash since it's a lot older. We'll see. I haven't tested this mount with my SIII because at the time of the trips I had an HTC Evo Shift. The shift is roughly the same width as the Touch so there weren't any issues with occasionally securing my phone in the mount when I need to use the GPS. A few times I have entered my car to find that the mount is on the floorboard or it has fallen while in use during driving. Overall, this mount is very good but the need and possibly worry that the suction cup may falter makes it's use less stable and consistent...again that may change with the suction disk if I were to use it.

  

Second, I have another mount that is smaller than the one just described (see images below). I got it purely for the iPod Touch but it did hold my HTC Evo Shift as well. It had two ways to mount: either adding 'clips' to the back and then clipping it onto one of the A/C vents or it had a sort of stand about 1" x 1" with double-sided tape that I could adhere to the dash and then secure the mount to it. Again, I didn't use this dash stuff because of not wanting to damage my dashboard. The mount did exactly what it was supposed to do. However, the clips that were on the back to connect to the vents were fragile and broke fairly quickly after a few weeks of use. They didn't completely break off. It's hard to explain in words but the bottom part of the clip was thinner than the top and the bottom part is what broke off (see 1st image below). This is turn made the mount technically not clip to the vent as much as it was hooked to it. Hopefully, that makes a little sense. So, clipping (not hooking for me) this mount to a vent blocks that vent entirely. I have four vents: one on each end of the dashboard and two in the center. Depending on where I hook it, using the mount knocks me down to three vents. Not a huge deal if I'm not using them but a big deal for the people in the back seat that aren't getting enough A/C air flow during the hotter days in Texas. This mount is limited to what size device you can use. It will not hold anything much larger than the iPod Touch and it definitely will not hold a Touch with a not-so-thin case. As stated, I strictly purchased this to hold my Touch to listen to my music so it worked for exactly what I wanted it for. This is actually my second mount of this type. The first one I had for about six months. The clips broke just like my second one but I also snapped the arms of the cradle when pushing them together to secure my Touch. I was more careful with the second one but I was surprised when the first one's arms snapped. This mount has served its purpose and I'm sure will continue to do so until I lose it or it breaks.

  

Overall assessment: I don't think you could go wrong with the Mountek MT5000. I got it at a very good price and I definitely like the use of the CD slot versus a suction cup to the window/windshiled or using some adhesive to hold a flat plastic surface on the dash for the suction cup to properly and securely adhere to. It could probably use an update (if this is the 1st run) with such things as stronger cradle arms and maybe smaller screws/nuts that are used to expand the mount inside the CD slot for stability. That way it doesn't block the display of the radio. Even with all these possible updates, it is a very decent product that I've used just about everyday so far since the initial testing a few weeks ago.

UPDATE: I finally got around to uploading some photos to show how the MT5000 mount interferes with the radio display and buttons since anonymous commentor Brent asked for clarification almost a year ago which I guess this could be sort of a testament to the build of this mount since I still use it...although I am also fairly conscious to be careful with it. Hope the pics help.

 
 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a very helpful review. I happen to have a honda CRV as well. Could you say a little more about the extent to which it interferes with radio buttons, etc? Any other Honda-specific considerations?

Thanks!

Brent

Jay said...

Brent/Anonymous. It's been a while but see my update above.