25
Aug
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My significant other likes to pretend the next car we buy will have TVs integrated into the headrests to keep our kids occupied on long trips. I can assure you, it will not - after all, that's an option that costs thousands of dollars, and is usually only offered on luxury cars (which we can't afford) and minivans (just no) as it is. But, as it turns out, it's not all that hard to one-up integrated TVs: you can slap on a sleek, adjustable headrest mount.

The benefits of using a mount rather than buying integrated are obvious. The first is, of course, cost - most people can't afford to buy a high-end luxury car or topped-out minivan plus the few thousand dollars it costs for the option.  Even those who can will likely find outdated systems, and one that's probably not touch-driven and definitely doesn't have the flexibility of Android. In other words: limited capabilities, no touchscreens, and no Play Store. Finally, you're stuck with what whatever mediocre hardware the car manufacturer saw fit to stick in there, unless you were willing to fork over thousands more for a custom system. All told, an aftermarket mount is not only much cheaper all 'round, but it's also infinitely more flexible.

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Satechi - a company that I'm starting to discover makes some really high-quality accessories - offers a $30 headrest mount. It's simply clamps around your headrest posts into place. That's all the background setup that's required; from there, you slap in your tablet, tighten the clamp until it's snug and you're done. You may also want to adjust the height (or, if you rotate it 90°, you can change the horizontal positioning), but that's up to the height of your headrest and the user. The video illustrates it well:

  • What: A tablet mount that attaches to the headrest in a car. Correction: a quality tablet mount.
  • Who: Parents, mainly. Or anyone else who regularly carts people around.
  • How Much: $30 (Amazon), $40 (Satechi)
  • Compatibility: Any tablet between 7" and 10.1"

Unlike cheap holders/mounts, the Satechi is a quality piece with rubber (rather than foam) grommets and the stationary part of the clamp is spring-loaded. The result: this is probably the snuggest fit you'll find from a tablet mount. It's also quite adjustable, as it has dual ball-and-socket connectors (in addition to the height adjustment), which provides full mobility.

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Though the apparatus has potential to rattle or bend in numerous places, it doesn't at all. The fit and finish are excellent and there's no rattle to speak of.

That said, there are two problems that aren't really the fault of the mount: vibration and glare. All cars vibrate while driving thanks to the mechanicals of the car and the road itself, and those vibrations travel right through the car, including the tablet. In short, you'll find it vibrates quite a bit while the car is moving. Or while it's not. And even when it's off, any interaction with the tablet triggers some vibrations. Ultimately, it's not a major issue and it's no different than reading a book in the car. The second concern is glare; the only solution is either to ignore it or to try to block out some light, as it's a problem that comes down to the tablets themselves.

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Ultimately, it's a brilliant accessory for those who regularly cart others around. Tablets and Bluetooth headphones have already made family road trips infinitely easier and more enjoyable; the headrest mount kicks things up a serious notch by eliminating hand fatigue and exponentially increasing ease of use.

To all the parents out there: what are you waiting for?

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • Robert Goddard

    nice car, i'm looking at getting one too. I really like the GLI

    • AaronGingrich

      I miss my A4. More power, more luxury, better gas mileage, and AWD. Kids are expensive, man.

      But thanks for the complement. It is a fun little car :)

  • http://profiles.google.com/epinez123 Martin Underwood

    Do you know if any force/impact testing has been done on these in the event of car wreck? Will the tablet fly off and crack skulls?

    • Jonathan Warden

      As many parts that are floating around in your car, I think that during an accident a flying tablet will likely be the least of your worries. It's a bit like worrying if the coal will burn you while you're sticking your hand into a fire.

      Poor metaphors forever!

    • http://profiles.google.com/cedric.berger74 Cédric Berger

      First question I asked myself. In case of crash this is quite an hard airbag, with metal corners...
      Not sure if a car designed with this integrated would comply to safety rules ?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Great question, which I really would have just brushed off a year later, but now expecting a kid, you start realizing things like that are of real concern.

      • Freak4Dell

        It concerns you now, but you would brush it off when you have a one year old? :p

        I think you meant a year earlier.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Whoops.

      • http://profiles.google.com/epinez123 Martin Underwood

        Congrats on the kid on the way! A friend of mine brought it up to me after I had shared the article to Facebook, and I thought it was a legit question as well.

        And yes, having a kid (two in my case) makes you realize a lot of different concerns :)

  • Bogdan Sladaru

    A friend of mine bought something similar to this
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/120974247671
    It's a DVD player with some kind of gaming system (I think it's an emulator, but I don't know for sure, his girl is 3 years old so she doesn't play any game on it), it has a zipper so you can cover it, it has remote controls... in the end I believe it's way cheaper than the solution you presented: 2 tablets and 2 tablet mounts will cost you at least $450; this solution is about $300 and I'm 100% sure they are more stable than the mounted tablets...

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

      Then again you would buy a tablet, use it at home to do stuff and then use in the car for the passengers to be entertained during long distance journeys. I agree though that your method is more cost effective.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

    Is that an iPad in the video above? Needless to say while the device looks ugly on a car without black seats, I could see this as being very useful for long distance entertainment after adding in some movies and a few games. Maybe an emulator + Bluetooth controller.

  • mehim

    Would this be applicable in the glove compartment for the passenger seat ? Would do wonders to keep my passenger from b!+(#ing about my mad driving skills :D

    If it doesn't fit, would anyone share one that does please ?

    • http://twitter.com/nevetsg nevetsg

      Just use Pugoo to stick the tablet to the dash..

      • mehim

        I don't think pugoo would be able hold my Asus 101. Any other ideas ?

        • http://twitter.com/nevetsg nevetsg

          Don't be too hasty. I had it holding my Dell Latitude E6600 to a window.

  • Falconator

    If only there was a way to get a mount like this for your center console. I rather have my tablet attached to the front and use its features that way. Anyway possible to modify this?

  • ChumbleSpuzz

    So close! Looking for a similar solution that will work for airplane seats.