The smartphone mount features a pair of foam-padded ratcheting arms that release and extend at the touch of a button. The arms can grasp phones up to 3.4 inches in width, which pretty much covers every smartphone on the market. At the base of this mount are a pair of smaller arms that rotate 90 degrees downward to form a base that the smartphone can rest on.
The much larger tablet mount also has a pair of ratcheting and extending arms that can accommodate a device up to 9.8 inches wide -- appropriate for nearly every 7- to 10-inch tablet on the market. I tested it with the Apple iPad, the , and the Google Nexus 7.
The usefulness of the Satechi Cup Holder mount will depend almost entirely on the location and stability of your vehicle's cup holders. For example, our 2007 Chevrolet Aveo test car has fold-out cup holders upon which the Satechi system was never able to gain stable purchase. The next car we tested was a that featured center-console cupholders. This location proved stable enough for smartphones, but the larger tablets interfered with operation of the shifter. It's my opinion that this system would work best with console-mounted cupholders that sit forward of an automatic transmission's shifter.
Additionally, I found that the Satechi Cup Holder mount worked well (possibly better) in the back seat. Rear passengers in vehicles with centrally located cup holders can take advantage of this mounting system's ability to hold a tablet stable by watching video or accessing apps during long road trips.
Mounting a smartphone in a cup holder has its pros and cons. Depending on the nature of your car's cup holders, the phone or tablet can be positioned where it's not a visual distraction in your line of sight, but is still accessible. However, in many cars, the cup holders' locations can place the phone in awkward positions. Larger tablets can even interfere with the shifter, making it difficult even to shift into drive.
However, this system's usefulness as the base for an impromptu rear-seat entertainment center came as a pleasant surprise and makes the back seat, in my opinion, the best place to use this mount.
The Satechi Cup Holder Mount regularly retails for $49.99, but it is possible to find the kit for as low as $39.99. I'd like to see this smartphone- and tablet-mounting kit broken into two less expensive kits, one for smartphones and one for tablets. Because you can't use the tablet and smartphone mounts at the same time, I think for most users one of the device cradles will just be collecting dust in a drawer somewhere anyway.