Monday, December 31, 2012

The Life-Phorm Smartphone/Pad mount - Review  


Review: Life-Phorm Mounting System
By Lethal Protection –
MSRP: $69.95


I don't do a lot of hardware or product reviews in general, but after taking a look at the pictures of this thing, I think it's easy to understand why it was impossible to say no.

The Life-Phorm from Lethal Protection is an all-in-one positioning/mounting device that can be used with smartphones, tablets, cameras, and other various high-tech devices that may be laying around. Examples of compatible tech given by the manufacturer even include the WiiU.  

What comes in the box.
First (and most obviously) it looks like a giant freaking spider, or some sort of undersea parasite. It goes without saying that it looks totally unlike any other mounting device or holder that's currently on the market.
Once the initial shock of the thing’s appearance wore off and I stopped chasing my wife around the house with it, it was revealed to be a fairly unique device functionally, as well as in form.

The majority of the unit is made of high-strength plastic, with the only metal components being the screws which hold it together and the central clamp which attaches to the phone, iPad, or whatever is meant to be held. The clamp that holds the phone has a nicely rubberized surface. 

Hanging upside-down underneath of my son's bunk bed.
It will come as no surprise that the Life-Phorm is most effective when being used in places that you might find a multi-legged creature - hanging from a shelf, clinging to the underside of a bunk bed, sitting on uneven surfaces like carpet or in a bed with legs splayed out for stability, and so on. The legs can be moved in a number of positions, and each appendage has a small hook at the end. It can grip or cling in a surprising number of scenarios, so if there’s ever a place where traditional phone mounts just don't do the job, the Life-Phorm may be the answer.

Solid as a rock on carpet. 
On the other hand, it's not quite as flexible as the appearance might suggest. Although the legs can fold up underneath it, it's not very compact when not in use. Also, as I was testing out different places to set it up, I found myself wishing that the legs had one more joint than they do, or that I had the ability to remove or attach the legs to the base in different ways or at different angles.

There are some other downsides to the unit as well. For example, I found that when my phone was in the Life-Phorm and I needed to get up and go quickly, it was a process to first undo the legs from whatever they're gripping, and then after that, detach the phone from the base. It's not very practical for five minutes of use here, or ten minutes of use there. It's also worth noting that I didn't find the unit to be very stable as a table or desk stand. The legs are curved so they don't sit flat when it's 'kneeling', and standing it on its ‘feet’ took up more room than I could comfortably spare in my work area. (The wife finds it to be effective in the kitchen because she can put it places while not taking up counter space, though...)

Part of the clamp sticking out on the left side of the phone.
Also, it may be a small thing, but I was surprised that the clamp was too small to hold my iPhone 4S vertically between the grips. It was easily able to be secured in a sideways position (the grips are on either side of the phone in the picture above) but this left some of the clamp exposed and gave it a lopsided appearance. Since I suspect that most people who would be interested in the Life-Phorm will primarily be attracted to it because of its looks, it was disappointing that it wasn’t perfectly sleek in what will likely be a common configuration, given the prevalence of iPhones.

Overall, it's impossible to deny that the Life-Phorm is visually arresting and will likely appeal to gamers, sci-fi fans and people interested in making a statement with their accessories. Everyone I showed it to had a very strong reaction to it (mostly positive!) and the cool factor is off the charts. On the other hand, I think it’s most effectively employed in awkward places or in settings where it's generally difficult to mount a phone or pad. For normal, everyday functionality in home and office, it seems a bit too fanciful and unwieldy. 

...Then again, for those buying a phone mount which could pass for a cybernetic tarantula, fanciful might be just what's called for.

Rating: 7/10


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