Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Auto XS Cell Phone Windshield/Dash Universal Car Mount (Aldi)

Eh...makes a decent temporary solution.
NOTE: My wife owned this product in the past, and I just bought one for myself, so this review will be a combination of both experiences.

Car mounts are, in my opinion, quickly becoming a “must-have” item these days: With everyone seemingly unable to put down their phones for more than two seconds, it’s becoming more and more commonplace to see drivers swerving across four lanes on the freeway because they’re texting while driving, putting themselves (which is fine), as well as everyone else (which is not) in danger. I have to admit I’ve been guilty of it, too: not texting, but using GPS without a mount has required me to look down at the phone to check the navigation at some points. It’s only for a fraction of a second, but sometimes that’s all it takes, and that’s why I decided I was going to pick one up.

It should go without saying that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a car mount, and the $7 asking price for this one seemed a little high. I mean, what is it besides plastic and a suction cup, two of the cheapest things to manufacture? (Upon researching, I now know that it's actually much cheaper than most suction mounts, and I am a fool for complaining.) Once our local Aldi dropped the price down to $5 a little over a year ago, I decided to pounce on one for my wife, who had been wanting one for a while; meanwhile, I went the vent mount route, finding one at Dollar Tree for the titular price.

After that one annoyed the hell out of me and crapped out a few months later, I finally decided to revisit Aldi's mount during a recent automotive Special Buy cycle, purchasing one for the retail asking price of $7. What a deal, I suppose! But if I got the same level of performance out of it that my wife did, that would come down to about $1/month...at the very least, I figured I'd have a six-month solution.

A rare image of the product actually working.
There are no instructions in or on the box, which makes putting it together a somewhat frustrating experience at first, although since there are only three pieces, you’ll inevitably figure it out. It looks and feels like a quality device: even though it’s made of plastic, it’s a tough plastic that feels like you could run it over without damaging it (although I wouldn’t actually do that to test it).

We ran into problems instantly, though it wasn’t the fault of the product itself: My car’s windshield slants at such an angle that it was impossible to mount it onto the window itself, as I was hoping to do. I wanted it to be within my right hand's reach, but the only way that would work would be to mount it directly in the middle of the windshield, something that's probably illegal at best and incredibly stupid at worst. Instead, I was going to have to mount it to the dash, no matter how impractical I thought that was: glass is generally way more adhesive-friendly than an oddly-textured dashboard, but I had no other options. I cleaned off the dash with a couple disinfectant wipes, let it set for a bit, and gave it a go. Much to my surprise, it easily stuck to the dash, though of course the key will be to see how long it manages to stay there.*

Once set, using it is simple: slide the hinges open, put in your cell phone, and then let go. The two “arms” will close until they hit your phone, and then secure it in with the rubberized pads on the side. These pads provide excellent grip, and the phone never feels like it’s going to slip out, which goes a long way toward giving you peace-of-mind. The adhesive base feels secure, and I never notice it wobbling at all, even as I'm putting the phone in and taking it out. It definitely feels quality, though time will be the true test.

*And it was around the two week mark that it just randomly fell off. As I said before, the dash is always—at least, in my opinion—a less than ideal place to have to set one of these up, especially since mine has a rough texture. But regardless of that, I was definitely expecting to get more than TWO WEEKS out of the $7 product. Even more frustrating: It was installed during spring, so it’s not like extreme heat or cold played a factor. I think we might have had one seventy degree day around the time it fell off, but if only one warm day gave it troubles, there is no possible way it would have made it through summer. Supposedly, the suction can be restored to “like new” condition by running it under warm water and air drying—I’m pretty skeptical about that, especially if the end result is just another one-to-two weeks of use before it loses its adhesive ability again, but I might give it a shot just to say I tried. Looks like it's back to Dollar Tree vent mounts for me, at least until I can find something more reliable.

Overall: 2/10. Terrible product, which I hate to say because the actual mount itself is sturdy and seems very well-made (it is plastic, but it’s a hard plastic and it’s under $10, so that should be expected). However, it’s the suction that gives out way too easily, crapping out after being installed on my dash, in spring weather, for just two short weeks. (I would have much rather installed it on the window, but mine is at such a slant that I’d either have to put it smack dab in the middle of the window, or at the top of the window to my left, basically next to my head. Since neither of those were preferable, that left the dash as pretty much the only option.)

For what it’s worth, my wife mounted one of these on her car's window that lasted about six months before falling off from “natural causes”, which is certainly better, though in the long run, just as temporary. I guess I’ll go back to using a vent mount, at least until I can figure out a better, more permanent solution that will work with my car. Nowhere near recommended.

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