Neat idea for a mount that ends up with a lot of asterisks.

CDMount2Smartphone car mounts are a lot like backup battery packs in that each one is useful in some way or another. Just as some batteries are built better or provide more options, there are some car mounts that tend to be more popular than others. After trying out iPow’s CD Slot Mount, I cannot say that the CD slot is the hidden sweet spot for mounting a mobile device, but I can see how some users may enjoy the option.

Open the box and you will find the mount itself, a few sizing spacers, and a small slip of paper that says “this mount does not require a user’s manual”. You will then find the enclosed User’s Manual.  When I encountered this with my review unit, I laughed and then continued with the installation. I found that although a manual is included with this unit, it is not truly necessary.

Installing the mount is a cinch. First, make sure the mount is in “open” position by moving the little tab on the base outward. (This tab is very similar to the tab/switch used on a suction-cup mount.) Then, take out any existing discs inside the vehicle CD unit and place the rear bracket portion of the mount inside the slot. Finally, push the base tab inward to open the bracket. With the bracket open (and the right spacers attached to the bracket “teeth”), the mount will rely on the tension created by the small opening containing the wider brackets.

CDMount3After installation, the mount is now ready for a mobile device to be placed in the spring-loaded adjustable tray. The images depicted in the manual seem to show the ideal tray setting is to adjust the tray to hold the phone vertically, but I can only imagine that the smallest of phones (iPhone 4 or earlier) would be able to fit this way. An iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were held quite securely when the tray was adjusted to grip the phone horizontally.

During my review, I found that even though I was using the largest spacer, the mount was still not a solid “lock” in place. With only enough tugging to being pulling apart the adjustable tray (the same amount of force one would use to place or remove a device in the tray), the mount fell out of the slot again and again. After looking things over, I found that my CD unit has a curved bezel that does not allow two of the three “teeth” on the mounting brackets to fully insert into the CD slot. I would imagine that this style of CD mount is most successful on a CD unit with a completely flat bezel.

I will admit that although the installation and removal of devices seemed to pull the mount out of the CD slot, the mount did not drop my devices or fall out of place during my driving tests, even when driving on a bumpy, gravel road out in the country.

CDMount4During the driving tests, I noted that the convenience of this mounting will vary by a great deal, depending on where your CD slot is installed. In one of the vehicles used in the testing, the CD/Stereo unit was immediately next to the steering column and closer to knee level. This mounting position kept the phone out of the windshield allowing for a better driving point of view but kept the phone so conveniently close at hand that I was tempted to play with the phone while I was driving instead of sticking with my almost-trusty voice commands. In the other test vehicle, the CD slot is mounted higher and closer to the passenger seat which kept the phone far enough away to avoid a texting incident, but kept the phone’s primary microphone next to an air vent which made voice commands tricky at higher fan settings.

It may seem obvious, but installing this mount will prevent easy use of the vehicle CD player and will likely block the clock display on the car stereo. It is quite likely that whatever device is installed in this mount will be able to replace these functions, but you will likely go through a minor adjustment period of asking your phone for the time (or perhaps just checking your watch).

A mount like this seems to be an offering to a customer that has been disappointed with suction-cup window and dash mounts and has also moved beyond a mount that clips onto an air-vent. With the option of a CD slot mount, it seemed to me as if the manufacturer was saying “Well, give this a shot and cross your fingers.” There are so many variables that will go into making this review a solid recommend or a solid decline. Variables such as if your car stereo is a custom installation or a factory model, if your CD slot is very wide or very narrow or curved or flat-edged, or even the location of the CD slot on the car dashboard (high/low, left/right) will definitely affect your opinion of this mounting.

My most honest recommendation would be to grab the mount off of Amazon and try it out. My vehicles worked okay with it and I am happy that I got to try a new type of mount, but if I had tried this out in a different pair of vehicles I could easily see the possibility of the opposite opinion.