31 August 2016

Anker Dashboard and Windshield Phone Mount: Secure Mobile Device Mount

It took me the better part of a year (and no small number of purchases) to test and land on the best phone mount to use in my car, and I eventually settled on a generic adjustable mount which fits securely in my CD tray. It’s a pretty good setup for my car (Subaru BRZ), which has a shallowly-sloped windshield far away from my driving position. It’s not a great solution for other cars, though, so I always struggle to come up with a good mount to use when in my wife’s car or a rental while on vacation.

So I was excited to be offered the opportunity to try out the Anker Dashboard and Windshield Car Mount. The mount arrived just before I embarked on a cross-country roadtrip, so I got to put it through an excellent real-world test.

Like all Anker products, the mount arrived in friendly easy-to-open packaging. Included within were the expandable phone holder, sturdy adjustable arm with suction cup base, brief welcome guide, and Anker product feedback card.

Assembling the mount is a breeze. The two pieces are attached by a ball-and-socket joint, so simply unscrew the large plastic nut from the socket on the back of the phone holder, slide it over the protruding ball on the end of the adjustable arm, and screw the nut back down. The joint allows the phone holder to swivel in any direction to accommodate any phone orientation you desire, but the proximity to the squared-off end of the arm prevents the holder from tilting more than ~30° or so in any one direction. As a result, only about 60° of the arm’s impressive 260° rotation range is actually useful if you intend to have your phone’s display roughly perpendicular to the ground. I didn’t encounter any mounting problems due to this limitation, but you may run into trouble if you attempt a more extreme mounting angle.

05 August 2016

Anker PowerCore 5000: Potent Portable Power Pack in your Pocket

So I got a bit carried away with the alliteration in that title, but it's all true!

Like all Anker products, this one arrived in an easy-to-open box without a lot of excess packaging to get in the way. Inside the box, I found the PowerCore 5000 itself, a short (~2ft) micro-USB charging cable, a high-quality mesh carrying pouch, a minimal illustrated user's guide, and the usual "Happy?" product feedback card. I've used many Anker products and can honestly say that they do want their customers to be happy with their products, and they stand by that with a no-hassle 18-month warranty on every single item.

The PowerCore 5000 is a plastic cylinder about the same diameter as a soda bottle cap and a little taller than a soda can. The matt black finish of the cylinder wall looks great in an understated way and - probably more importantly - is easy and comfortable to hold onto. There’s a round power button on the side, as well as three white LEDs used to indicate the current battery level of the charger. Each end is glossy plastic slightly recessed, with the micro-USB input and USB-A output ports on one end and all the obligatory labels and information printed on the other. (On a related note, I love that even an inexpensive product like this features an individual serial number. That’s encouraging to see, and makes me much more comfortable with the company honoring their advertised warranty.) The internal battery causes most of the PowerCore’s weight to be at the label end, which means it becomes quite stable when stood on end for charging.