Our site looks a lot different, doesn’t it? After spending 70 hours a week on running our online business, we realized we needed to change things. Working these long hours once in a while is ok, but after doing it steadily for over ten years, it began to affect our health and quality of life. We decided to shift our focus. We have retained a subset of our business to serve our prior customers and continue to offer our most popular products on Amazon where you can always find a huge selection of Arkon Mounts and RAM Mounts.
For several years, we had a blog attached to our site that many of you found useful. We added articles as time allowed. We decided to expand our blog and write with far more frequency. We will continue to explain how to mount new stuff and use what you already have in ways you may not have thought about before.
As readers of our site know, I have become a big fan of Waze over the past year. I originally wrote an article on Waze pronouncing this to be one of the greatest applications ever. I still think it’s a great application but it isn’t perfect. In this article, we discuss some opportunities for improvement.
I use Waze a lot. A real lot. So much that I have achieved a level of Royalty Wazer. That means that when people I don’t know see me on their map, I am wearing a crown. I wish I could turn that off. It’s amazing the things application developers do to get people to use their product.Simply put out a good product and let that be the reason why people use it over and over again. In the case of Waze, they did just that. The silly promotional stuff isn’t necessary.
So I mentioned that I use Waze a lot. Unlike a traditional GPS device, I use Waze even when I know where I am going. That’s because of the integrated traffic and hazards feature. Waze will plan the fastest route to wherever I am headed with the traffic delays known up front. This is superior to almost all of the GPS devices out there. Yes, there are GPS units with traffic built-in but that only works in large metropolitan areas. I live in Northwest New Jersey. Apparently that’s not considered a large metropolitan area so traffic integration is unreliable and sometimes not available. Waze, however, works perfectly.
When Waze is aware that I am on a well-traveled road, it works perfectly. However when in some more obscure parts of the state, it sort of loses common sense. I was driving in the sticks a few weeks ago and looking to go home from wherever I was. Instead of telling me to make a right out of the driveway which is the way I was expecting, it had me make a left. It then took me over a mile down the road, had me turn onto a side street, then make a u-turn to come back the other way right past the driveway I just turned out of. Apparently Waze must have thought the road had a divider in the middle.
The next area of improvement is Bluetooth integration. Waze runs on your phone, so Bluetooth is already present and you would think that Waze would integrate perfectly but it doesn’t. When using Waze on an active route and a call comes in, Waze disappears to the background and the telephone application takes over. Your map is off the screen. You can get the map back by closing the phone app and opening Waze again but that’s not safe while driving. Additionally, while speaking to your party that just called, Waze will interrupt and override the speaking party. This one is kind of surprising but that’s how it works on my iPhone. Android users might be able to benefit from an application called Waze Up but sorry IOS users, you’re out of luck. I can’t be the only one to complain about this because it’s really annoying.
The last area for improvement is the whole user interaction. We are all familiar with the risks of texting while driving. While I am a big fan of using the Waze application, I’m not a fan of the way it handles reporting of traffic and hazards. Waze encourages someone in the car to report these incidents. Unfortunately there is no easy way that I know of to do this via voice command. You need to press several buttons within the application to do this. I suppose if you have a bored passenger, it gives them something to do but I’m betting a lot of these reports come from the drivers themselves. Yes, you get six Waze points for doing this but it’s really dangerous and I think the developers need to come up with a safer way to report traffic or hazards.
As I said at the beginning of the article, I am a big Waze fan, and will continue to use it on a daily basis wherever I go. Fix these annoyances and you have a near perfect application!
If you would like to read a good article on smartphone car mounts which are useful with GPS applications such as Waze, you may view it here. If you aren’t a fan of Waze and instead like the traditional GPS units read our Guide to Buying a Garmin Nuvi.
The Izzo Swami 4000 GPS and Izzo Swami 4000+ GPS for golfers has been available for a few years. It has a lot going for it at a reasonable price. It’s pre-loaded with over 30,000 golf courses so there is a reasonable chance your neighborhood course will be covered. The purpose of this GPS is simple. Based upon where you are standing it will provide accurate distances to front, center and back of the green. The Izzo Swami 4000+ incorporates distances to hazards like traps. It has a digital scorekeeper and shot distance measurement. The device is a small handheld model measuring 3.8 inches high x 2.1 inches wide.
The Izzo Swami 4000 comes with a charger, USB cable, case and a belt clip. Ever try to swing a golf club with a GPS hanging from a belt clip? It’s really annoying and another reason why my shot will hook dramatically to the left into the lake. Do yourself a favor and put somewhere else. The most popular locations to mount a golf GPS has always been the cup holder or windshield of an electric golf cart or the handlebar of a pull cart or the golf bag itself. We will discuss all of these options in detail.
We always like universal mounts when possible. The first advantage is ease in inserting your GPS and removing it regardless of if you use a protective case or not. The second and probably most important advantage is the ability to use the mount for future GPS upgrades so if you buy another new GPS several years from now, there is a possibility you may not need to purchase another mount.
The most popular location for mounting any golf GPS is the cup holder of your golf cart. The Bracketron Golf Cart Cup Holder Mount offers an expandable cradle that opens to approximately four inches wide so it will grab the Izzo Swami 4000 from the sides. The cradle has movable side grips so that you can move them up or down and avoid pressing of any side controls. The bottom has an expandable base that can be made wider to contour to the size of the cup holder by twisting the top of the base.
If you would prefer not to use the cup holder, a suction cup mount for any smooth flat surface is available. These are perfect for adhering the mount to the golf cart’s windshield. An expandable cradle to fit your GPS is included.
For pull carts, the best place to mount your GPS is the handlebar. Most handlebars on a pull cart are an inch in diameter. Bracketron also make an excellent pull cart handlebar mount. This mount shares the same cradle as the cup holder variety. It also includes an adjustable strap mount that is easy to install and remove. It fits diameters much larger than an inch and is tightened by pulling on the strap and removed by pulling up on the tab and loosening the strap.
You can also attach your Izzo Swami 4000 to the golf bag itself. This is accomplished by borrowing on the design that is normally used to mount a GPS or cell phone to a sun visor of a car. The Bracketron golf bag mount is what you need. It also borrows the same cradle from the previously mentioned mounts and slips over the top of your golf bag.
Although there might be some custom cradle mounts. my personal take on this is to stick with the universal mounts made by Bracketron. The ability to reuse it when you upgrade (or change manufacturers) will save you some money plus the options available with this lineup are ones that are not available from Izzo Golf. I prefer the cup holder to other locations as it’s out of the way and in a safe location within the golf cart.
Mounting Components Discussed in this Article:
The Escort Passport 9500ix Radar Detector was introduced a few years ago and continues to be very popular. This is a radar detector owner’s dream. It will detect all bands of speed enforcement radar (X, K, Ka, and Ku) from both front and rear. But there’s a lot of radar detectors that can do this. One of the best and most unique features in the GPS integration and on-board database of red light and speed camera locations. This detector also has an autolearn feature that integrates the GPS position so that once it you tell the detector of the false alert, it will not warn you about it again. Between the GPS, the historical database or cameras and the autolearn feature, it’s like the Waze of radar detectors. It is also compatible with Escort Live which is their flagship smartphone application.
The mount that is provided with the 9500ix is a double suction cup with a tab which fits into the slot at the top of the radar detector. Be sure to clean your windshield well prior to adhesion. The mount is ok in low vibration environments and in moderate climates should work well for several years. If your suction mount stops working, be sure to read our article on failing suction cups because you may potentially be able to save it. You might also be able to simply replace the suction cups on the mount if you can find them.
If you can’t save it, or are simply unhappy with the stock mount, the Escort StickyCup is what I wish the company would provide versus the one they do. Like the stock mount, this one has the tab that slides into the slot at the top of the 9500ix. Unlike the stock mount, this one has a single larger suction cup that will likely hold up better. The mount has a vacuum feature to drastically improve the suction functionality.
Who says that a radar detector has to be attached to your windshield? Certainly not California or Minnesota where, as outlined in our article, mounting to your windshield is against the law. Let’s take a look at what is out there for places other than your windshield.
Your car dash is a great place to mount to mount your radar detector. This Car Dash Mount marries your 9500ix to a flat platform using included Velcro strips. The bottom of the mount has a suction cup and the kit includes an adhesive disk to stick to your dash. The suction cup sticks to the round disk just like a windshield. Keeps the radar detector in a great spot for viewing.
The rear view mirror is another location that’s becoming a more popular spot to mount devices. The PerformancePackage Rear View Mirror Mount for the 9500ix includes an attachment that will fit your rear view mirror. The mount uses a clamp to attach to the rear view mirror. Also included is a tab attachment that slides into the slot at the top of the 9500ix. You have adjustment points att he base and the tip.
Although not my favorite location for a radar detector, the passenger’s sun visor is another place to mount your 9500ix. This Visor Mount is ok to use as long as looking at the message screen on the 9500ix is unimportant to you. Fortunately the 9500ix has voice capabilities, so potentially this may not be important to you. I would also mention that interfacing with the radar detector is very difficult so this location is best after you have the device customized with false reading locations.
Actually, as I finish the article, I realize there’s a lot more locations to put this radar detector than I thought. Select the location that’s not going to interfere with your driving, is legal to use in your state and is easy to remove. This is one of the more expensive radar detectors on the market so you don’t want to leave it in the car.
Mounting Components Discussed in this Article:
The Garmin Nuvi 2798LMT is the first of the company’s GPS line to have a backup camera. It looks like Garmin might be trying to introduce some new value added features to their aging Nuvi line. We have seen backup cameras on a few models in Europe but this is a first for Garmin. While certainly not a substitute for turning your head to check for oncoming vehicles, a backup camera is useful for backing into spaces to ensure you will not hit the object behind you. The 2798LMT sports a lot of nice features including a big 7″ screen, lifetime map updates, integrated traffic, voice activated navigation and Bluetooth integration.
A note on the traffic. I always mention the all important traffic subscription and how it’s tied into your car charger. So don’t lose it. You cannot replace it with a basic car charger because while it may power your device, the traffic will not work. You will need to buy a Garmin traffic cable with a brand new subscription. Don’t leave this in your next car rental!
The first mount that we can discuss is the one you will use for the backup camera. This is one of those tasks where you will be making some holes in your car so be extra sure you have it in the right place. The right place means that the angle of sight is good but also that your GPS is receiving a clear signal from the camera location. You don’t want to mount the camera only to find out you aren’t seeing the right video. The camera will attach to a transmitter. If you are finding that a signal to your GPS is hard to get, consider installing a Transmitter Extension Cable. This 50-foot cable will hopefully get the transmitter closer to your GPS unit to deliver a clear signal. Be sure to follow all instructions in the Garmin Manual and as I mentioned, be extremely sure the angle of the camera is right before bolting the camera mount to your car.
Now on to vehicle mounts for the GPS itself. The default mount that is provided with the 2798LMT is the typical Garmin suction cup except the neck is a little longer than a smaller 5″ screen model. On the 2798LMT, you will need to use the included cradle in order to use the camera. If your suction cup has failed, read our article on reviving it here. If after reading the article, it’s still failing but the cradle is still good, replace it with a good quality mount like the Arkon suction mount. These Arkon mounts come with a 2-year warranty and these stick real well. Like the Garmin mount, the Arkon brand comes with an adhesive dashboard disk as well.
If using this in a truck or an RV, the windshield can be a far reach to the driver so a longer suction mount might be called for. Fortunately the people at Arkon provide a nicely constructed extra long mount that will fit this line. The mount included a 17mm ball adapter that is made to fit the socket on the back of your power cradle. It extends from 14-18 inches and has a metal arm that withstands vibrations reasonably well.
If you would prefer not to mount this GPS on the windshield, that’s ok, there are a lot of other mounts that permit alternative locations within your vehicle. The dashboard is a very popular place to put your GPS. For many years, the Garmin Bean Bag Dashboard Mount has been the answer to customers that prefer a different location. It’s a heavy mount with a non skid bottom and has that 17mm ball built-in to fit the socket on the back of your cradle. If you would like to read more on this mount, we did a detailed article on this mount awhile back.
Mounting Components Discussed in this Article:
Today we are discussing mounts available for Aprilia motorcycles. Aprilia makes a large array of bikes that range from small-capacity motorcycles and scooters to large sport bikes such as the V4 RSV4. Their popularity has been increasing partly because of considerable success on the racing circuit. Here in New Jersey, you don’t see many people using scooters as you will likely get blown off the highway but we do see an occasional Aprilia full-sized motorcycle.
Like many motorcycle owners, Aprilia owners like to mount things on their bikes. The most popular items mounted are cell phones and GPS units. I also see some that mount cameras, satellite radios and even drinks. The most popular locations are the handlebar followed by the clutch but I have also seen some adhesive used to mount devices to the gas tank. I receive a few questions each year regarding the potential use of a suction cup on a motorcycle which I do not recommend as the vibrations can easily compromise the effectiveness of the hold of a suction cup.
Let’s discuss some mounts that will work well for Aprilia motorcycle owners. The majority of Aprilia owners will use their handlebar as the mounting point for their devices. Be wary of inexpensive plastic mounts made for bicycles. While some plastic bicycle mounts will work well, there are others that are too brittle for motorcycle vibrations. A good rule is that if it costs $5 and ships from Asia, it’s not a good choice for your Aprilia bike.
First, let’s discuss GPS mounts. Most GPS mounts will deploy a 17mm ball at the end that will mate with the cradle that came with the car mount that Garmin uses for the windshield mount. Some of the better (but more expensive) mounts are made of metal and come with a custom cradle which your GPS will snap into. We recommend tethering the GPS to your handlebar if possible for added safety. A good entry-level mount with that 17mm ball that is marketed for motorcycle use is the Arkon handlebar mount. A higher priced but better made handlebar mount from RAM and can be supplemented with a custom cradle to fit your GPS. Both of the mounts mentioned fit handlebars up to 1.25 inches in diameter. I like the RAM entry for the metal construction of the mount plus the lifetime warranty but if you don’t feel like spending about $40 on a complete RAM kit, the Arkon entry has a 2-year warranty and for a plastic mount is quite well made.
A phone handlebar mount has some other requirements versus the GPS. I always recommend using a case on your phone so purchase a mount that deploys a well made universal cradle that will grip your phone very firmly and can optionally be tethered to your handlebar. Select a mount that can swivel into portrait or landscape. If using your phone as a GPS, you will likely use it in landscape but if using it for other applications, there’s a good chance portrait mode will be needed. My favorite mount for a handlebar continues to be the RAM X-Grip mount. We wrote a very detailed article on the X-Grip series which you can read here. These fit a 1.25 inch handlebar and carry RAM’s lifetime warranty.
Some Aprilia motorcycles such as more recent RSV4 models can use a fork stem option. TechMount manufactures a stem mount kit. The universal stem mount system comes equipped with six stem shafts with varying diameters, each being a different diameter to fit virtually all-steering stem holes. Select the right size for your stem and slide it down into the top of the fork steering stem. The stem adapter includes an O-ring, which progressively gets tighter as you slide it slides it into the stem shaft, keeping your device attached securely to your motorcycle.
The TechMount kit has a 17mm ball at the end which ironically is the same size used by a Garmin Nuvi GPS cradle. So for many GPS units, this might be all that is required. If you would like to add a universal phone cradle to this mount, there are many options. The TechMount cradle kit with includes a safety bungee and a 17mm adapter that will fit over the ball on the stem mount. The resulting cradle installation sits roughly an inch off the stem.
I mentioned earlier that there are a lot of riders opting to mount a camera on their motorcycle. There are many camera mounts available for your handlebar but they aren’t all well suited for camera use. A camera has a unique requirement to minimize vibration. Some higher end cameras have technology embedded into the software to minimize this affect. Most do not. Buying a plastic mount with a tripod screw embedded is likely to yield a very shaky video so you will want to find a mount that has vibration dampening technology. The RAM handlebar camera mount has been proven over many years to be the best out there for this purpose. These fit handlebar up to 1.25 inches and facilitates very steady videos. There are quite a few videos on YouTube that use a RAM Mount. Here is a random video that I found and you can see the steadiness of the video. Using a plastic mount without dampening features will likely result in a very dizzy viewer.
Mounting Components Discussed in this Article:
Stealth Cam is one of the largest manufacturers of scouting cameras for hunters. One of the largest selling is the Stealth Cam No-Glo Game Camera and most of their cameras have a similar design to this which we will use as the example for our mount discussion. The cameras have varying degrees of features. Most are motion activated and the better ones have infrared features to allow it to be used at night. The photos are typically written to an SD Card which the owner can swap out on a regular basis and take home to see what’s around and what time of day it was there. The camera is encased in a weatherproof case. The back of the case has a slot to run cables or wires to secure it to a tree or similar structure.
These cameras are typically secured to a tree and there are a variety of methods and material available to do this. It all depends upon how you feel about security and viewing angle. Read on.
The most basic way to attach your Stealth Cam to a tree is by using a strap such as the Moultrie Feeder Camera Strap. Simply run the strap through the opening on the back of the camera and securely fasten it around a tree. These are 8-feet long which is large enough for almost any tree. They come in a set if two, although you will likely only need one to do the job. The positive on these straps is that they are the simplest and fastest to use. The negative is that they are also the simplest to remove by you or anyone to walk past the tree.
The issue with a strap mount is also the availability of a limited angle and you can supplement these with a Stealth Cam Pivot Mount. You see, when using a simple strap, your camera will be flush with the tree and will only point forward. This mount bolts to the back of your camera case and is then fastened to a tree using straps. The advantage of supplementing your camera with this mount is the ability to point it towards whatever view you like. If you plan to mount it very high off the ground and want to tilt it down, the easiest way to do that is to add this mount which features a ball and socket design.
There is an unwritten rule among hunters that you don’t steal the other hunter’s stuff and that’s typically followed but sometimes you run into someone who didn’t read the rule book. You might want to consider locking the camera down. The Master Lock Python Cable is an excellent choice to do this. The lock itself is camouflaged to blend in better with the surroundings and the cable is the right diameter to fit most camera cases. This has a six-foot cable and a keyed lock. While I suppose someone could always cut the strap, it just makes it a little more difficult to walk away with the camera.
You not only need to worry about human thieves but also animals such as bears who have been known to rip these cameras right off the tree. Stealth Cam makes a Security / Bear Box for the G-Series Camera which is used to take security to the next step. Your camera is inserted into this metal box. The Bear Box is normally bolted directly to a tree then locked using any padlock. The metal box provides protection from the elements as well as bears and it’s extremely difficult to remove from the tree without forcing the box open. If security is a concern, this is about the most protection you can get for your Stealth Cam.
Mounting Components Discussed in this Article:
iPhone bigger and better. At least that’s what Apple calls it. Recently made available, this is the most popular release to date of a new Apple iPhone. It’s understandable, especially for those not already owning a more current phone. The performance and functionality improvements introduced with the new phone as well as the new operating system (IOS release 8) are significant. This is a site that focuses on the stuff needed to make your devices mobile, so if you want to read about some of the enhancements, take a few minutes to view it at Apple.
We would be remiss without mentioning one very important sets of features on the new iPhone 6 which is called iSight and Auto Image Stabilization. This combines some new hardware and software enhancements that will permit you to shoot photos and videos that aren’t as prone to a shaky hand nor as susceptible to a vibrating vehicle. This expands the potential of using your iPhone 6 for use as a dash camera or possibly for use on a motorcycle. If you choose to do this, make sure the mount that you purchase leave the rear camera lens uncovered.
When it comes to mounting this phone, it’s important to know the dimensions of these devices. The iPhone 6 is larger than any model announced to date. With a 4.7 inch diagonal screen this phone is 5.44 inches tall by 2.64 inches wide by .27 inches deep. The larger iPhone 6 Plus is even larger. Sporting a 5.5 inch diagonal screen, this iPhone is 6.22 inches tall, 3.06 inches wide and .28 inches deep. These are important measurements to keep in mind when selecting your mount. For those with any custom iPhone mount which features a cradle specifically made for your iPhone, they aren’t going to fit and you will need to purchase a new mount, or at least a new cradle. For those that have purchased a universal mount to hold your older phone, hopefully it opens wide enough to hold your new iPhone 6 series without a problem. Most universal mounts offer options to upgrade your cradle to a larger one. From experience, I suspect you will be able to reuse your existing universal mount for an iPhone 6, but not for the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus is a really big phone. It was made to compete with the larger models from Samsung such as the Mega and Galaxy Note.
Readers of our site already know that we favor the universal mounts because of the reasons just mentioned. So for those that never had a phone mount before, avoid the custom solutions and purchase a solid universal mount.
There are a lot of companies that offer some excellent mounting solutions for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Arkon, based in California, offers three inexpensive lines that fit all iPhone 6 models with or without a case. The Mobile-Grip 2 cradles were recently introduced. Mobile-Grip 2 features an expandable cradle that grips your phone from the sides. The cradle opens to 3.6 inches wide so should be large enough for almost all cases although you might struggle a bit with a thick case on an iPhone 6 Plus. Arkon also offers an older line called Slim-Grip Ultra which opens to over 7 inches. The Slim-Grip Ultra will hold your phone from the top and bottom and features support legs that can move from side to side. Lastly, the Megagrip cradle opens to 3.4 inches. The Megagrip has been around for many years and is extremely reliable. The Megagrip features one hand operation and opens with the push of a button. Arkon does not offer a custom cradle for any of the iphone 6 models.
iOttie, based in New York, provides some inexpensive mounts that feature the Easy One Touch 2 universal cradle which opens to 3.2 inches and will fit the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus without a case or skin. When adding a thick case, this line may not fit well. This cradle is spring loaded and sold with a variety of mounts for the handlebar, windshield and dash. iOttie is somewhat new to us and we plan to look closer at their offerings in the near future.
RAM Mount, out of Washington, features two custom cradles. The RAM-HOL-AP18U is made to fit the iPhone 6 and the RAM-HOL-AP19U will fit the iPhone 6 Plus. Since it’s a custom cradle, these will not fit your device with a case or skin. You can couple these with one of RAM’s mounting pedestals for the windshield, cup holder, dash or motorcycle. RAM also makes their ever popular X-Grip cradle, the RAM-HOL-UN7BU for the 6 and RAM-HOL-UN10BU for the 6 Plus. These universal cradles will open to grip your phone from the sides with or without a case or skin in use. Although the custom cradles are well made, we prefer the X-Grip universal cradles. It’s likely you will have a case or skin on your phone so go with the universal cradles. We do a deep dive on the X-Grip series which is worth reading here.
As for recommendations, I have used and really like the Arkon MegaGrip SM415 Mount for universal car use. This line is inexpensive and proven. You can use it reliably on your car dash or windshield and it fits your iPhone 6 with or without a case. The mount features a vacuum locked suction assembly attached to a pivoting arm. The cradle opens and closes at a push of a button and expands up to 3.4 inches so it will git the iPhone 6 even with a case and an iPhone 6 Plus without a case or with a very thin skin. The phone can swivel into any orientation. The mount also comes with an adhesive disk that you can stick to the dash to turn the mount into a console mount. The suction assembly can adhere tot he adhesive disk just like it would on a windshield. I have used these for a long time and can vouch for the ease of use and durability. Might be the best phone mount you can get for the price.
If you are looking to use your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus on a motorcycle, consider the RAM X-Grip line. These are heavy duty mounts that are mostly constructed of metal. The mount has gone through some rigorous shake tests and holds up well on a motorcycle. We wrote about X-Grips extensively on this site and you can view that article here. The mount that you would use for the iPhone 6 is the RAM-B-149Z-UN7U. The iPhone 6 Plus needs a larger cradle so you would select the RAM-B-149Z-UN10U.
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I recently discovered the Samsung Gear 2 Neo while on a recent shopping trip here in New Jersey. A lot of people may not know that the Samsung Gear line has been out quite a bit longer than the popular Apple Watch.
A huge amount of hype has circulated around the Apple Watch release. An entirely new category of product called wearable technology is getting off the ground. There’s a wide variety of opinions that range from this category being very limited to the greatest idea since the smartphone itself. Personally, I think it’s somewhere in between. I see a real use for activities such as fitness and a quick weather update but this isn’t going to replace your smartphone.
It does some of what the Apple Watch does and best of all, it is made to work with a lot of popular Samsung phones such as the Galaxy S5, Galaxy Mega, Galaxy Note 3. It even works with many of Samsung’s tablets including the Galaxy Note 10.1. You need a Samsung device that’s compatible with the Gear 2 and is running Android 4.3 or higher. The Samsung Gear 2 will pair with your Samsung device using Bluetooth and will use an application called the Samsung Gear Manager. The Samsung Gear Manager will reside on your phone or tablet to enable many functions on your wrist that you typically would rely on your smartphone for. The Gear 2 will be using the cellular or data connection on your smartphone to receive information from the outside world.
The connectivity between the smartphone and your Gear 2 Neo is going to be somewhat limited. No more than 30 feet and that’s probably pushing it.
The most common use for the Gear 2 Neo will be to receive notifications from your phone for incoming calls, email, texts and calendar reminders. These are pushed from your paired Galaxy device to your Gear 2 Neo and you can react to them without checking your phone or tablet. This is fairly useful if your phone or tablet is in your desk drawer or pants pocket. When there is an incoming call or any notification, your watch will vibrate on your wrist. You just need to look at your wrist to see what’s up.
Using an application called Samsung’s S Voice, you can talk to your watch. You can initiate calls and verbally reply to texts as well as give it basic commands. The watch has a speaker and microphone so you can talk to someone using the watch but be aware the microphone and speaker are really small and you will need to put your wrist up to your mouth for clear articulation. This might be a useful feature if your phone isn’t hooked up to your car’s Bluetooth. I wonder if the New Jersey cops would write a ticket if they saw you talking to your watch?
The Gear 2 will also hold up to 2.5 GB of music so you can download quite a bit of stuff to listen to independent of your phone. This is a nice feature for workouts as you can attach a Bluetooth headset directly to the watch and not even need your phone or tablet.
I think one of the most useful features of the watch is the integration of the Samsung S Health app from your phone or tablet. You can measure your heart rate when the watch is on your wrist using the built-in monitor. The watch will also measure the number of steps using your watch and it pairs up nicely with the app on your paired phone or tablet. The watch includes all the basics for a workout including a stopwatch and timer.
Misplace your phone? Use the Find My Phone feature on your watch to page the phone. If you have your watch on, this is slightly more convenient than finding a landline to call it.
The Samsung Gear 2 Neo is a nice accompaniment for your phone or tablet. It delivers basic functionality on your wrist that most users are after. While perhaps not as eccentric as the Apple Watch, it’s perfect for the basic user that is simply looking for notification, music, voice and a fitness accompaniment.
The Anker 2nd Gen Astro E4 External Battery holds a series of lithium batteries to deliver up to 13000mAh of power to your devices. Let me start by saying that I am a big fan of the external battery pack product, regardless of brand. I now own four different brands of external batteries and this is the one that I like the best. The battery measures 5.9 x 2.5 x .9 inches and weighs about one pound. My battery is black but it comes in a variety of colors.
To use these batteries, you get a micro USB cable that will plug into the battery for charging. The battery comes with the cable only, no AC adapter. This typically isn’t an issue for any smartphone owner but something to be aware of in case you don’t have a free one available. The battery was sufficiently charged well enough out of the box for me to use, but your mileage may vary so be prepared to charge it overnight once you get it. A series of four lights appear on the top of the battery indicating how much power the battery has. When it’s fully charged, all four lights are on, just like the one in the photo to the left.
The battery itself has two ports with each delivering over 2AMPS which is what you need to charge any smartphone or tablet. I have found that not all batteries have two ports capable of delivering over 2AMPS. Some have a single port that delivery 2AMPS and another that does 1AMP. While I question the usefulness of any port that’s still delivering 1AMP, a lot of batteries still exist that give you this output, so whatever battery you decide to buy should be checked for this important capacity.
The battery swiftly charges up my iPhone 5s, especially when it’s the only device being charged. This is because the battery itself is capable of delivering 3AMPS. The battery has enough juice to fully power an iPhone five times or iPad Air once so you can go a long time between having to recharge the battery. Speaking of my iPhone 5s, be aware that you also need to supply your own lightning or mini USB cables for charging your device.
This battery has a feature which I have seen on other portable ones which is a flashlight. Although I can’t think of a time I would use this other than shining it in my wife’s eyes for entertainment purposes, you have one built into the battery when you need it.
So when do I use this battery? Almost daily. I always find at the end of the day, I am close to draining my phone. I can continue to use it while sitting on the couch watching TV. Coupled with a standard three-foot lightening cable, this battery powers my iPhone 5s up to 100% in a short period of time. I also like to bring it on a plane with me to keep the phone charged. I used to always land and use my iPhone as a GPS only to find it’s close to empty. I have never had any issues carrying the battery onto a plane going through security.
The Anker 2nd Gen Astro E4 External Battery is a good one. I use it every day and highly recommend it for anyone looking for portable power.
The annual refresh of Garmin’s GPS includes 10 models as part of their Essential Line of devices. Like 2013, the 2014 line includes a series of GPS devices priced on the lower end with the functionality that most GPS owners want. These are called the Garmin Nuvi 55, 55LM, 55LMT, 56, 56LM, 56LMT, 65LM, 65LMT, 66LM, 66LMT. Garmin continues to stick to the same naming standards. Where you see LM as part of the model, that one has lifetime map descriptions. When you see LMT that one gets lifetime map updates plus a lifetime traffic subscription. So the difference between all these units is size, map updates and coverage. There is no 4.3 inch GPS as part this year’s series so it looks like Garmin has abandoned the 4.3 inch diagonal screens which makes sense as the price points between 4.3 and 5.0 inch screens are very slight. The 55 and 56 models have a 5.0″ diagonal screen. The 56 and 66 include maps for Canada and the US. The 55 and 66 have just the lower 49 states of the US. Personally, I never had use for the lifetime map updates as I found that you will likely purchase a new GPS before it’s time to update the maps. GPS models are like any other technology. And for traffic, this only works well in large metropolitan areas so if you live in a rural area, skip that feature.
We’ll discuss mounting options in a bit. First I wanted to be sure that if you have one of the LMT units with traffic, don’t lose the cable. Your traffic subscription is tied to the actual cable itself. If you lose your cable, you will need to replace with a very expensive (about $60) traffic charger. A plain car charger will not provide you with traffic, you need to buy the model with traffic incorporated into it.
In the box is the usual Garmin offerings which is a suction cup mount, adhesive disk and a charger. All of these units come with a cradle which snaps onto the back of the GPS for a tight hold. The cradle has a 17mm socket on the back and can be adapted to many alternative mounts by simply pulling the cradle off the suction cup mount that comes with your unit. The mounting kit in the box also includes an adhesive mounting disk. This is particularly useful for states like California and Minnesota where mounting to a windshield is not legal and you need to mount it elsewhere. We wrote a detailed article on these states and you can read it here.
The suction cup mount that comes with this series is very basic. There are many alternative mounts to the suction cup which we find to be very marginal in terms of reliability. We have used and can endorse the Arkon suction cup mount which is long enough for both the 5 and 6 inch models. The mount comes with a 2-year warranty from the manufacturer as well as a replacement dash disk. Unlike the Arkon entry, the mount has an articulation point halfway down to permit greater freedom of adjustment versus the Garmin mount.
The most popular mount made for the Garmin Nuvi series is their beanbag mount which has a 17mm ball which you can snap the cradle onto. We wrote an in-depth review of this mount which you can read here.
I continue to be amazed at the number of cup holders that are present in my SUV. I cannot possibly drink that many bottles of water nor can the passengers that ride in my car. Why not use one of these spare cup holders to mount your Nuvi? We wrote a detailed article on cup holder mounts previously. The cup holder mount for the Nuvi is made by a company named Arkon and it features a base that expands to the contour of your car’s cup holder. These place your Nuvi at a good location for viewing. for GPS reception, we find these work best with a sunroof as depending upon the location of your cup holders, it may be challenged to see the satellites in the sky.
We like car vent mounts a lot and Garmin offers a good one. Finally coming out with a vent mount of their own a few years back, Garmin’s vent mount is very well made. Unlike many of their competitors, Garmin saw the need for a vent mount with a clamp on the back if it. This means these mounts will fit horizontal and vertical vents. While it costs a bit more than the competitors, it’s worth the extra fora well made mount that you can easily install and remove.
On the motorcycle, the best manufacturer from our experience is RAM Mounts. RAM makes custom cradles for the Garmin Nuvi 55 and 56 series. You can combine this with the RAM Handlebar Mount to create an extremely secure mount for your GPS to fit bars up to 1.25 inches diameter. For the 65 and 66 series, RAM offers some very well made mounts for smartphones and tablets that utilize spring-loaded tension grips and one of those models fits this line of GPS. We discussed RAM’s X-Grip line in a previous article which can be read here. RAM bundles this cradle with a solid motorcycle mount. The cradle opens large enough to accommodate 3.7 inch (65 and 66 series) width of the GPS. The mount fits handlebar diameters to 1.25 inches.
Mounting Components Discussed in this Article:
|Garmin||Garmin vent mount with 17mm ball to fit the socket on the back of the cradle||Garmin Vent Mount
|Arkon||Suction cup mount for Garmin Nuvi||Arkon Replacement Upgrade or Additional Windshield Dashboard Suction Mounting Pedestal for Garmin nuvi 40 50 1450 1200 GPS
|Arkon||Arkon cup holder mount with 17mm ball to fit the socket on the back of the cradle||Arkon GPS Cup Holder Mount
|RAM||Motorcycle mount with X-Grip IV cradle||RAM Mounts (RAM-B-149Z-UN10U) Handlebar Rail Mount with Zinc Coated U-Bolt Base and Universal X-Grip Iv Large Phone/Phablet Holder
|RAM||Custom RAM cradle||RAM Cradle Holder for the Garmin nuvi® 52, 52LM, 54 54LM, 55, 55LM, 55LMT, 56, 56LM, 56LMT, 57, 57LM, 57LMT, 58, 58LM, 58LMT