There's a lot of gear out there for your Apple devices, but how do you know which are worth your time and what's not worth your money? In our Gear We Love column, Macworld's editors tell you about the products we're personally using — and loving.
Though texting and driving is dangerous — and in many places illegal — you do want your phone to be accessible and visible for tasks such as in-car navigation. Which means that you need a good car mount. A few months back, I wrote about Kenu's Airframe, a compact iPhone car mount that's perfect for tossing in your pocket or bag (say, for use in a rental car). But I mentioned in that article that when I'm in my own car — in other words, when portability isn't a concern — I have a sturdier mount that I prefer. That mount, from Mountek, is this week's Gear We Love.
I've actually been using an older Mountek car mount for over a year, but I recently got to test both an updated version of that mount and a brand-new model. Both offer significant improvements, and, like the original, both are based on the same great idea: If you're using your smartphone or a similar device in the car, there's a good chance that you no longer use your car stereo's CD player, so why not put that CD player to good alternative use?
Instead of using a suction cup, an adhesive pad, or a vent clip as its mounting mechanism, Mountek's $30 nGroove Snap 2 Multi-Use Car Mount and $20 nGroove Grip Universal CD Slot Mount each repurposes the long-neglected CD slot on your car stereo for use as a mount point. You just slide the nGroove's "blade" into the CD slot, turn a small knob to expand the blade, and you're set. Mountek's mounts are much sturdier than vent-attached mounts, in my experience, but they won't damage your slot-loading CD player — just turn the knob the other direction to collapse the blade, and the mount slips right out.
If you still regularly listen to CDs, you can instead slide the blade into a horizontal dashboard groove. Even if you do still occasionally use your car's CD player, you can use the Mountek mount in the CD-player slot — you just need to remember to remove the mount from the slot before ejecting the CD.
The main difference between the two mounts is in how each holds your phone. The nGroove Grip offers a padded, adjustable-width cradle that supports your phone on three sides and can be rotated to any orientation — vertical, horizontal, or anywhere in between. The two longer sides of the cradle are spring-loaded: You squeeze them together until the cradle is the right width for your phone. If you ever want to widen the cradle, just press a button along the top edge and the sides pop apart. The cradle expands to fit devices as wide as 3.7 inches, so it should fit the rumored larger iPhone(s) just fine.
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