Most of the accessories we’ve tested for “mounting” your iPod in your car involve either a stand that fits in your car’s cup holder or some kind of charging apparatus that plugs into your accessory (a.k.a., cigarette lighter) jack. Nyko’s Universal Car Mount takes a different approach: It attaches to either your dashboard or your air vents. And with one exception, we like it a lot.
The iPod-holding cradle of the Car Mount is made of clear and white plastic. The base of the Car Mount is shaped like an iPod-fitting cup; the back of the Car Mount contains a spring-loaded support to accommodates iPods of different thicknesses; and the sides are actually two spring-loaded arms that “grab” your iPod to keep it stable. You slide the bottom of your full-size or mini iPod into the cup, and then push the iPod back against the support until you can close the arms around it — they lock into place. Once you’ve done this, your iPod isn’t going anywhere unless you turn the entire thing upside down (and even then it’s unlikely to slip out). To protect your iPod’s shiny surfaces, most of the places where the Car Mount comes into contact with your player are covered in soft foam. When you want to remove your iPod from the Car Mount, a button on the top releases the arms.
So how does the Car Mount actually, well, mount? The back of the unit has a square plastic nub that connects to either of two included bases. The first is a 1.5″ x 1.75″ adhesive-backed base that sticks — rather permanently — to any flat surface in your car. The second is a 1.25″ x 2.25″ base with two plastic-covered metal clips — which can be oriented vertically or horizontally — for attaching the Car Mount to any air vent on your dash. Both mounting options work well, although both leave permanent markings on your vehicle: The adhesive base obviously leaves adhesive, but the vent clips tend to scratch up your vent. If you’re looking at the Car Mount as a “permanent” mounting solution for your iPod, you probably won’t mind, but it’s worth noting (and is my one major criticism).
When your iPod is seated in the Car Mount, its top edge is unobstructed, so you can still use top-mounted accessories such as an FM transmitter or remote control, and a hole at the bottom of the unit provides access to your iPod’s dock connector port.
If you don’t mind a few scratches on your air vents, or if you’re OK using an adhesive patch on your dash, the Universal Car Mount is a versatile mounting solution that accommodates all full-size and mini iPods.–Dan Frakes