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[Review] Satechi CR-6000 / CR-3600 Car Phone Holder
TL;DR - Rock solid.
So I bought a Satechi CR-6000 / CR-3600 (name change?) on Amazon. Got it yesterday, drove to work with it today, feel qualified enough to post a review.
Really solid coming out of the box. This thing is heavy duty. There's no instructions with it, but it's rather self explanatory. Don't miss the "smart pad" stuck to the inside side of the box, it's useful.
This thing comes with two cradles, a universal one with spring loaded spongy arms to grab onto anything, and a molded iPhone3/4 compatible cradle. I bought this one because I wanted the snap-in ease of a molded cradle, (without having to adjust arms everytime), but wasn't sure our phones would fit. I didn't want to have to explain to the wife why I had to buy ANOTHER cradle if I just bought a molded one and it didn't fit, so I got this one. Each cradle snaps onto the articulated arm easily.
The base is super solid. The suction cup is attached to a ring that spins on the base. Spinning the ring pulls up on a threaded plunger the suction cup is attached to, allowing you to REALLY reef down on the cup and get great suction. I lifted up my glass table with this thing on the center...the table weighs at least 40 lbs.
The articulated arm is moved by depressing one of two buttons, one for each joint. The buttons, when released, lock positively into a toothed gear inside the joint, meaning when you choose a position for the joint, it will STAY. The downside to this is there are probably only 20 discrete positions for each joint, (rather large teeth), so you don't have infinite tunability. I found I was easily able to position it any way I wanted though.
The cradle part itself rotates 360°, to allow you to go from portrait to landscape viewing of your phone easily. It also has discrete, (spring loaded this time) teeth, giving you perhaps 20 positions again to rotate it to. Again, more than enough for me.
The only thing I don't like is that the arm does not rotate in the base. This means the arm will point in a certain direction once you have the base suction cupped onto something, and to rotate it you need to loosen the suction cup plunger and spin the base. Not ideal, but with the arm joints and cradle rotation, you only need to get the arm oriented in a general direction, (within 30° maybe?) to be able to fine tune the angle of the phone with the joints. Very nice still.
The iPhone molded cradle fits our Optimus' VERY nicely. It's a nice, tight fit, but easy enough still to insert and remove the phone one-handed. With the phone in the cradle, I was able to hold the cradle and whip it around, and the phone didn't budge. I really like this cradle, and will use it exclusively for my phone.
The universal cradle also grabs onto the phone, but the location of the foam pads means when you cinch it down, you press the "Vol Up" button on the side. It only presses once, (doesn't hold the button down), as you squeeze the arms in, so it's not the end of the world, but it didn't make me too thrilled. You can position the phone off-center so you don't hit any buttons, but this looks ugly. I'll likely only use the universal cradle for my wife's Garmin GPS when I steal it for long trips. The cradle design is still nice though, solid, with a nice smooth arm opening movement when you hit the "quick release" button on the back.
As I said, the suction cup is VERY powerful. The ability to use the tightening ring, instead of just a little arm you move, means you can really cinch it down. This thing will NOT fall off of any window. The cup itself is made of nice thick rubber/plastic/whatever. I'd guess maybe 1.5 - 2.0 mm, though I didn't put a caliper to it. Not like those crappy 0.5-0.75 mm cups.
For dashboard mounting, (in case you don't want to break the law in certain states, like my own MN), it comes with a "super pad", which is a round disc the same diameter as the suction cup itself. It's made of an extremely soft rubber, feels like silicone, but really really soft, about 2.0-2.5 mm thick. The pad feels slightly tacky, but I think this is just due to the low molecular weight of whatever it's made of. There is no adhesive on either side, and it's "washable". It wets out to anything smooth you set it on almost immediately, sticking quite well to a glass table. I first stuck it to the suction cup, (when the suction cup was "flat", i.e. not sucked in), then stuck it on my dashboard, which is a textured vinyl with a slight curve to it. I used the suction cup ring to tighten the cup up, and sure enough, it sticks like a rock to my dashboard, even when my dash was at about 5°F due to our MN winters. I was AMAZED at how well it stuck, and happy I don't have to use any adhesives on my dash.
This thing doesn't move. At all. Going over bumps, round corners, there is NO vibration in it. My phone was steady enough to read very small point font with no issues while doing 75 on a slushy, bumpy freeway. Due to the geared arms, it's sturdy enough to allow you to insert or remove the phone one handed without changing the orientation of the cradle, (the cradle doesn't move as you push the phone into it). Grabbing the phone and wiggling, it's like my phone is welded to my car. I could easily tap buttons, (hard and soft), scroll maps, etc, all while driving. I REALLY am impressed, having owned "flex arm" cradles in the past, that always had some vibration and "give", this articulated arm is just heaven.
9.5/10 stars, I'd say. Only thing I don't like is the inability to rotate the arm in the base, although again this is overcome by the 3 degrees of freedom in the arm/cradle.
Here's the iPhone cradle on the arm, stuck to my glass table:
iPhone Cradle and Universal Cradle:
Close up of suction cup "tightening ring":
Close up of arm showing button you press to change joint position:
Green is the ways you CAN rotate the arm, red is the way you can't rotate it, but I wish you could:
Blurry me picking up my big glass coffee table:
In my car, on my textured and curved dashboard: