Review: Arkon’s Mega Grip car docks

Upgrading your phone is expensive. Not only does one have to fork out for the device, but many people need to buy a new bumper/case and possibly a screen protector. Depending on the audio jack, audiophiles (not me) are often required to buy docks designed specifically for a given phone. Considering how often I go through phones, custom docks just aren’t an economical option. And I like to test virtually every device I use as a navigator. You may not have the same trouble with constant upgrades or multiple phones, but I’m willing to bet that a chunk of our readers share a car with someone, each of them with their own phones. Whatever our individual reasons, a universal car dock is a good thing to own.

I’ve been testing out a set of Arkon docks for a couple of weeks now, and while none of them hug the countours of my phones with the style and grace of an expensive tailored dock, every single device I’ve snapped into one has been secure. I’ve taken a bit of care to avoid volume rockers, which will be pressed occasionally when securing or removing a device. My power buttons, audio jacks, and charging ports have always been accessible.

I’ll show you how all that works in a second, but not before mentioning that Arkon’s one-dock-fits-all approach applies as much to the back end of their mounting solutions as it does to the front. Their docks can be attached to your air conditioning vents, your windshield, or your smooth dash. If you don’t have a smooth dash but can’t mount on the windshield due to local laws, use one of their adhesive discs, which stick to the dash and provide the dock with a surface suitable for their quality suction mechanism. If that’s not quite right for you, Arkon has another solution: heavy duty dashboard mounts (a weighted slab that adds storage and smooth surface to the dash).

Pictures will explain these products far better than I can with words, so let’s get to them. What you see below is the Arkon Mega Grip. It has adjustable legs for avoiding buttons and ports, and those arms click into place snugly, with rubbery pads absorbing some pressure so that you can be sure that they will grasp the phone tightly. I have used the Mega Grip with the HTC EVO, Motorola DROID X, Samsung Intercept, iPhone 4, Samsung Vibrant, and even T-Mobile’s Garminfone. All fit well, and have remained in position.

Those feet sare moveable, so it’s easy to charge or use your audio out while driving:

An adjustable ball swivel holds the dock and the mounting assembly together, so once you get the tightness adjusted to your liking, it’s easy to swivel the phone around and have it stay in a given position.

It works with cases, too:

Arkon also provides a back end for mounting on an air conditioning vent in case you like your unit lower, or if local laws prohibit nav units that obstruct any view from the driver’s seat. I was born in Colorado and consider Oregon home, so nothing gets between me and my AC here in north Carolina, especially since I just paid the man in the jump suit to do the magic that keeps the air all frosty like. Still, it’s a nice option to have. Does your phone overheat when GPS is on? This might be the solution for you:

Those aligator grips and curved resting nub (technical term) work surprizingly well, though you won’t be able to manhandle the phone when adjusting the angle, like you can with the windshield mounted version.

Landscape or portrait mode, it’s up to you. Maybe you don’t need navigation, but want to mount your media player. Here you go:

The most extreme option is Arkon’s Dashboard Mount line. These things can be swapped from car to car (or, more likely, from Hummer to SUV) easily and provide a little space for change, gum, whatever. A plastic hook with adhesive keeps this unit from sliding down the dash on steep grades, or during the jolts of a tractor pull.

If you watched my unboxing of the Arkon Mega Pack I recieved, you know how easy these products are to put together. After two weeks of testing, I can tell you that they are sturdy and reliable. While I cannot testify to long-term durability, I can tell you that I have confidence in the Mega Grip I’m currently using. But what’s really amazing about these products are the prices. Arkon has a host of docks – both universal and designed for specific models – usually ranging from $14.95 to $24.95. And you can mix and match front and back end purchases to switch, for example, from AC mount to windshield mount at little cost.

While I have experienced the occasional unintended volume change while clamping a gadget into one of Arkon’s dock, it has never been an issue. Those rubbery pads that allow the grips to secure a phone tightly also leave enough room for the volume so that your phone can be secure without depressing any buttons. And considering that they work with virtually any touch screen mobile phone, I’m not complaining.

For more information on how Arkon’s docks work, check out their DROID X mini-site here and click on, “features and specifications.” I have also embedded a promo video at the end of this post.

Verdict: Arkon’s Mega Grip is a great deal and does what it should: keep your phone secure. Two giant thumbs up.

Thanks to Angel from Arkon for the review units and being available for help.