Belkin TuneDok for iPod

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, September 2005
Manufactured by: Belkin Corporation
Available at: StylusCentral

Requires: Any 1G through 3G iPod; available vehicle cup holder
MSRP: US$29.99 (available through StylusCentral for $19.99)

My cherry Pontiac Vibe, fresh out of the new car showroom felt somehow incomplete. The unfortunately stock Delco AM/FM/CD supplied by GM along with four mediocre speakers was not upgraded due to the fact that I am not made of money. In fact, taking a decent step up into passably good sound requires the outlay of approximately $1,000 for a replacement head, four co-axial/two-way speakers, a clean and powerful amp, high quality connection and speaker cables, and of course the requisite line-in jack and a companion iPod dock connector (for a newer iPod). The only thing I could afford to install before taking delivery of the car was a line-in jack mounted discretely on the center console and hooked up to the Delco stereo. I've got a first generation (1G) iPod with a 5GB hard drive that is still going strong after thousands of hours of use. I love the new iPod Nano released this month, but I'll be darned if my trusty 1G model isn't going far too strong to merit replacement. Battery problems? Nope. Audio quality? Excellent. So why change? No reason. Using the iPod in the car is clearly worthwhile for music and podcast listening, but my ongoing dilemma has been the difficulty in finding a secure and accessible mount or holder for the device. Belkin, the department store of all things small, electronic and handy, has released yet another useful little iPod accessory product for the hordes of users who share my dilemma.

The Belkin TuneDok is a clever device designed specifically to hold 1G through 3G iPods. The device consists of a pale gray, grippy rubber cup containing a threaded vertical shaft into which a heavy gauge nylon screw and ratchet/tilting iPod clamp is inserted. The ratcheting clamp has a pliable silicone suction cup which securely seals to the smooth back of any compatible iPod. The wrapped sides and base of the clamp provide a close fit to the body of the iPod. Your iPod can be placed in the TuneDok using one hand and removed with one hand.

While not as elevated as some of the iPod holders with long, flexible gooseneck attachments, any driver-side cup holder should position the TuneDok and mounted iPod within easy reach. The center console on the Vibe puts a pair of cup holders, one slightly larger than the other, within reach. The TuneDok is supplied with two cup holder inserts and one height adjuster cup, which means the device can be used in almost every vehicle on the market today as long as the overhang of the iPod clamp doesn't interfere with or bump into any part of the dashboard or console. I used the larger ribbed cup insert in the Vibe, and I used the small insert in my wife's Chevy Venture van. I also used the TuneDok in my business partner's Honda Element SUV using the small cup insert.

The TuneDok cup holder inserts are made of a hard rubber with a matte surface finish. This surface treatment is non-marring to the shiny plastic found in most vehicles and also proves to be difficult to scratch or abrade. The clamp mount is finished with flat-edged, rounded corners in the iPod style and is, of course, pure white. In its commercial packaging the TuneDok looks kind of awkward and clunky, but in actual use it's quite decent looking, unobtrusive and looks and works well in most vehicle interiors. Once your iPod has been placed in the clamp, attach the dock connector (if you have one wired into your vehicle sound system), or jack the iPod into the vehicle system via the headphone output (if you've installed a line-in jack).

Cons: The clamp sides and bottom are part of a one-piece mold and consequently don't adjust for width and height. If you have an iPod Mini, you'll have to purchase the TuneDok for Mini. If there's a Mini and a 1G or 3G in the house, you'll need two TuneDoks.

Pros: Belkin has thoughtfully built in a little cable clip on the back of the lower portion of the device holder and it's very handy for preventing a dock connector cable from getting tangled with the shifter, emergency brake handle or anything else in the area. The lower clamp has a large cutout which makes it easy to attach a dock connector to 3G models (the 1G iPods don't have a dock port). Securely holds an iPod and doesn't shift around in the mount while you're using the mode buttons or scroll wheel. Flip the cup holder insert, screw the clamp through the bottom, and you've got yourself a stable desktop support for your iPod. Supplied with enough cup holder inserts to fit most North American, Japanese and European vehicles. Recommended.

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