A typical coldshoe mount retails, off-brand, for only a few dollars – and I worry about three failure modes. Loosening from vibration / use, stripped threads (many bargain coldshoes are of questionable quality), and just plain not tightening enough in the first place.
Most things that loosen will flop, pivot, or twist in a way leaves things merely out of place. When a “typical” coldshoe loosens, your expensive flash falls out and hits the floor – so much for your warranty, and do you have a spare to finish the shoot?. If it is clamped up in a ceiling at an event, maybe it falls on someone before hitting the floor – causing a mild injury and perhaps a less-mild response from the injured party.
The Frio coldshoe looks great – it gets good reviews, and would get to my door for about $25. A competing product, the Black Fish Universal Coldshoe, would get to my door for about $10. Half-price is half-way to my favourite price, so I tried one. EDIT (20130525): now that Frio is carried by Gadget Infinity, they come to Canada for about $15 – so I have a bunch, and prefer them to the Black Fish. Frio’s have been reviewed constantly – suffice to way this way of connecting a hotshoe to a light stand is the way to go.
My two concerns were robustness – would it just break in use – and security – would it retain the flash in adverse circumstances.
Visually and physically, the Black Fish is tough. When I bend and twist with reasonable force, it never seems near breaking. The threaded insert looks like stainless steel (it is the right colour and barely magnetic – I did not do a spark test), has clean threads, and is undamaged after vigorous tightening.
Regarding retention, I tried to remove a flash by hand, without depressing the release lock or “bending the fishtail”. This simulated the flash’s locking mechanism failing or just not being engaged. I used enough force to cause some concern about the integrity of my flash’s shoe, but could not get it to come out of the Black Fish.
As a bonus, there is no clamp-securing screw to loosen and fall out in your kit bag on the way to your shoot, and getting a flash in and out of the Black Fish is quick.
In summary: half-price compared to the competition, strong enough, secure enough.
Here are some closeups showing the cold shoe and locking mechanism.