The Satechi CD Slot Mount makes car CD players useful once again

If you have a smartphone, you likely use it as a music player in your car, making your car CD player obsolete. This Satechi smartphone mount makes use of that legacy piece of equipment.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
3 min read
Satechi Universal Smartphone CD Slot Mount
This Satechi mount slides into the CD player and holds a smartphone in an easily viewed position. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

If you use a smartphone in the car, your CD player probably doesn't get much use anymore. The Satechi CD Slot Mount makes use of that legacy feature to hold your smartphone in an easily accessible and viewable spot.

This Satechi mount consists of a fat plastic base in matte black, a two-inch arm on a vertical hinge, and a smartphone clamp, in glossy black, mounted on a ball joint. Rubber fins, meant to stick into the CD player, extend from the base.

Satechi Universal Smartphone CD Slot Mount (pictures)

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To lock the mount into the CD slot, Satechi includes a lever on the base that pushes the middle rubber fin slightly upwards. In practice, that mechanism doesn't seem to do much. After sliding the rubber fins into the CD slot of my car and pushing the lever down to lock it, I found it took little effort to pull the mount free of the CD slot.

However, the mount did not slip out of the CD slot as I drove on a variety of rough roads. Likewise, the CD mechanism seemed unaffected by the mount. The fins did not stick in so far as to make the CD player think it was accepting a disc.

Because CD slots in cars tend to be within easy reach of the driver, the mount doesn't need a lot of adjustability, but Satechi includes it anyway. The arm rotates vertically through 80 degrees from the base, and the clamp moves across a 60-degree arc, in any direction, on its ball joint. Few cars, if any, should have trouble accommodating this mount in such a way that would keep the phone accessible to the driver.

In my small, two-seater BMW Z3 Coupe, I could position phones both vertically or laterally, using the ball joint on the clamp.

The clamp on this smartphone mount is a new design from Satechi. Rubber-lined grips sit at 2.5 inches when closed, and 4.75 inches when the top spring-loaded grip is fully extended. I tested it with both an iPhone 5 and a Samsung Galaxy S4, and the clamp held each phone securely.

Just as important, it was very easy to put the phones in the clamp and remove them with one hand. I had to tip each phone in against the top grip, pushing the spring-loaded mechanism open, then each phone slid neatly into the lower grip. The CD slot mount was also secure enough that I could put the phones in place and pull them out repeatedly without dislodging the whole apparatus.

The Satechi CD Slot Mount lacks any cable pass-throughs, but in most cars its mounting position should put it very close to a 12-volt power point or stereo auxiliary input. That position makes it less likely to have cables strewn about the car.

The biggest drawback to this mount was that, in a small cabin, I frequently bumped it with my hand. It also obscures the radio display, which posed a problem when I wanted to listen to the radio. It did not get in the way of the volume or tuning knobs.

At about $17, the Satechi CD Slot Mount is a good deal and will work in just about any car. The fact that car makers design radios to be within easy reach of drivers means the mount will keep your phone in an equally accessible position. Some states also prohibit windshield suction cup mounts--the positioning of the Satechi CD Slot Mount should make it as legal as operating your car radio.