Sunday, May 13, 2012

What to do with your phone in the car

Now that you have your wireless earbuds, you’re probably trying to figure out where to place your phone while you’re driving your car. If you’re a woman, you can leave it in your purse, but how will you see the display? You won’t be able to identify who’s calling, well, unless you have specific ringtones for those most-important callers.

And if you don't have something similar to the wireless earbuds that I wrote about in my previous post that allow you to answer the phone on the unit, you’re going to have to have the phone handy to answer the calls.

If you don’t have a purse or a convenient pocket on your clothing or even a cup holder or something else that you can put the phone in, I recommend using a sticky pad for your dash.

I actually decided I needed one of these when I started using the navigation apps on my phone. I was having some issues with maintaining a strong GPS signal (although this also depends on the app), and a little research revealed that GPS can work better if there are less obstructions. Placing the phone on the dash means that there is pretty much only glass between the satellite and the phone.

I was skeptical before trying the sticky pad because I couldn’t see how the phone could possibly stay in place, but it does. Now I’m not guaranteeing that if you take a 90-degree turn at 60 miles per hour or if you have to suddenly slam on brakes that the phone will stay in place, but in normal driving conditions it really does work.

SmartGrip® Pad with phone and glasses
The one I chose is the SmartGrip® Pad at The Container Store for $9.99. One thing I liked about it is that it is a little bigger overall than some versions. This means that I can turn the phone horizontal or vertical and it still fits on the pad—I have a larger smart phone with a 4.5” screen. It also means there is room for something else, if needed, like sunglasses.

It’s hard to tell from my photograph, but the SmartGrip® Pad is a charcoal grey. My dash is darker, but there really isn’t as much of a difference in color as this appears—the flash made it appear a lighter color.

You may decide that you don’t want this extra size and there are versions that more closely match the size of a phone. I had also looked at a version at another store that was smaller, and it was about half the price, too.

If you know me, I spend the least amount of money necessary for anything, so there must be some extra benefits to this version, right? Besides liking the size of the SmartGrip® Pad, I also like the smoothness of the surface and the pretty shape. It’s not overly decorative, but just looks nicer when nothing is on it.

The other version that I had looked at also had a raised design that I thought could collect more dust than the smoother surface would. The textured surface may have something to do with the engineering of making the item cling or maybe help it to release more easily, but like I said, the SmartGrip® Pad works and the surface is completely smooth.

You can remove your phone with one hand, but there is a little trick to it to keep the pad from lifting off the dash. I find that lifting the phone from one side versus straight up, and even having one finger on the pad helps separate the two items. There is no actual adhesive on either side of the sticky pad, but it’s obviously doing what it’s supposed to by clinging to the phone and it doesn’t really want to let loose.

I think you’ll find at least two main uses for this gadget: being able to see the screen to identify callers and to give your GPS a better view of the satellite. For those of you that don’t use some type of headset, for safety purposes you should only be talking via speakerphone, and this will give you a good place for your phone, too.

Questions: Did you think like me that this couldn’t possibly work? Have you found a different gadget that works better?
Let me know by leaving a comment below.