For all of you following my latest reviews, you know that car mounts are near and dear to my heart. I have an extended commute to/from work and use my Note 2 as Nav while streaming radio and music. I rely on secure mounting of my phone and also value ergonomics of the mount. Luckily the selection of quality car mounts (anything other than cheap ebay stuff that last a month) is not that vast, but still it requires a careful testing to find what suites your needs the best. That is why I have reviewed almost every available car mount to help you make this decision. Today, I have another one to share with you from RAM Mounts. Unfortunately, my perception of RAM Mounts was only for commercial application (aviation, military, law enforcement, warehouse material handling, marine, etc.), that's why I never looked into their products until now. What I discovered, they were able to scale it down to a personal mobile level (smartphones and tablets) while still keeping the heavy duty design and construction. That is a part of their products I would like to focus in my review. Let's take a closer look at what I found.
The anatomy of any basic car mount is very simple, a suction cup to attach to the surface, a mounting arm to give you flexibility of angle adjustment, and a grip to hold your device. Most of today's popular car mounts make this selection easy by including everything in one pre-assembled package, while with RAM Mounts you get a flexibility of selecting every individual component to custom build your car mount. This has both positive and negative aspect, where it's great to pick and choose exactly the config you are looking for, but for some less tech-savvy people it will be confusing. So, let's start with a suction cup. The review unit I received had a basic twist-lock suction mount which attaches to a smooth flat or glass surface. Being used to a sticky gel base smaller footprint suction cups, I wish that would have been one of the included options. Don't get me wrong, this suction cup worked really well on the windshield as well as mounted to a flat surface of the table, and I really like twist-lock feature, but the flexibility of a removable/reusable sticky suction cup which can be mounted to textured dashboard surface is also important. RAM Mounts offer another permanent sticky base option which to be used for dashboard mount. To complete suction cup assembly, you need to attach 1" ball joint mount using 2 included screws. That's where I would have wished for an option of a universal 17mm ball joint connection to use with other commercial suction cup bases. But at the same time, a rubberized coated 1" ball makes a very secure joint connection especially with a solid metal socket extension arm. Cleverly engineered, that arm has a one spring loaded side to attach to the base without a need to tighten an adjustment screw before you ready to attach the grip. The grip, appropriately named as X-Grip, is a spring loaded 4 metal leg design with a soft rubber tips to hold your mobile device. It will require two hand operation, but once locked it holds your device very secure without blocking any power cords or buttons. On the back, it has the same 1" ball joint to attach to the socket of extension arm. Here is how it looks in step by step setup.
Suction cup base mount with short extension socket arm
X-Grip for 5" phablets (you can also get one for smaller phones)
Assembled together with my Note 2
You can also get an option of longer extension arm, and X-Grip comes in a larger size for smaller tablets, used below with my Nexus 7. As a matter of fact, I was able to attach my Nexus 7 inside of book cover case without any problem.
Longer extension socket arm
X-Grip for smaller tablets
Assembled together with Nexus 7
As one of the mounting options, RAM Mount offers a Ram-A-Can cup holder base, weighted down with rubberized flaps for universal fitment with different cup holders. Those flaps can also be trimmed down if required. It took me a short while to figure it out (actually had to look up instruction on RAM Mount website - they have a lot of excellent video instruction clips), and the attachment to cup holder base was made using a suction cup connected on the top. There is also an option to attach 1" ball mount with 2 screws for a more permanent attachment.
RAM-a-CAN cup holder with attached mount
Another option for a small tablet mount is a spring loaded holder for a tablet with or without a case. The review sample I received was for without a case option as I showed in pictures below, but in my opinion this should be used only for use in your car if you don't plan to constantly remove your tablet, exposing it to accidental drop without case protection.
7" Tablet mount with Nexus 7 (no case)
Here is how it looks mounted in the car.
Overall, I was left with a mixed bag of impressions. Without a doubt, this is a very well engineered car mount with a top choice of material, great build, and very secure grip. But I don't think it will be for everybody. If you are a looking for a tough build car mount for your truck or utility vehicle, especially when you are driving off road, or for any commercial need on the boat or a plane, or anything in-between - this would be among top choices. But for someone who just want a very simple cost effective and durable one hand operation universal car mount you get pre-assembled in one package without thinking too hard about the component selection, there are other top choices such as Arkon Slim Grip Ultra or Mobile Grip 2 or iOttie or iBolt mounts. I really don't want you to get a negative impression of these RAM Mounts, they have a big following and fan base, and rightfully so! I just personally found that it might be not for everybody or fit in every car, especially in compact cars mounted to a windshield. But I will continue with my long-term use testing, and will write a follow up with more updates and impressions. I also would like to hear from other RAM Mount users with their opinions and impressions.