(Note: All the photos here but one are from Akron–since they matched my experience, and are of better quality, I used them instead. Hope y’all don’t mind.)
When I was planning what accessories–if any–to get for my iPad, one of the things I was pretty sure I was going to pick up was a stand. I fly back and forth all the time between Austin and the San Francisco Bay Area, and while watching movies on my iPhone is okay, even with just an iPhone it gets fatiguing holding the durn thing up for two hours. An iPad? Nope; gotta get a stand.
And I did: based on Dan’s review here on Gear Diary, I got myself a TwelveSouth Compass stand. And I love it, honestly. It’s solid, it’s pretty, it works really well, it fold ups nice . . . it’s a good product. But I found that it has two drawbacks when it comes to air-travel. First, it’s kinda heavy, what being made out of metal and all. Second, it really flips out the TSA folks–being, you know, made out of metal and all, and pointy at one end to boot. I’ve never had it confiscated, or even been threatened with it, but it got checked out a lot, and these days that makes a habitual traveler pretty nervous.
But I needed a stand. A lighter one, that preferably wouldn’t flip out TSA workers and cause me to go into some back room somewhere for a strip search. And Akron came to the rescue by sending me their IPM-TAB1 portable fold-up stand for the iPad. How did it work out? Read on!
I’ll be dead honest: when I first unpacked and looked at this stand, felt the weight and noticed the materials, to say I mentally compared it to the Compass in extremely unfavorable terms would be about right. It felt . . . cheap, and plasticky compared to the compass. But I figured, hey, give it a try; why not?
I’ll tell you right now, my earlier impression was turned completely around after using it.
This is not a piece of gear you’ll brag about to your friends, or something that will make you look cool or hip or anything. But in a lot of ways, it’s better than that for two absolutely, completely compelling reasons: its price, and it works. It does the job. It holds your iPad up in both landscape and portrait mode, it adjusts to a number of viewing positions, and it sits stably on a number of surfaces.
(This latter may seem like a silly thing to note, but try using the Compass stand on your bed, say, or prop it on a pillow. The feet are simply too small. The Akron stand, on the other hand, has wide feet and a much more stable stance, and I use it on my bed all the time.)
The two back joints that you see in the photo are on ratchets of some kind; they click into place in a number of positions, allowing you to adjust the stand for portrait vs. landscape mode, as well as giving you a number of different viewing angles. And I never got the sense that the ratchets were going to fail, folding up the stand and dumping my poor iPad on the table. Quite the contrary; they felt solid and reliable.
The back of the “upright” portion is padded with a slightly-tacky rubber/foam material, to assist in keeping the iPad in place. In addition, the cutouts in the “feet” are padded as well. My iPad felt quite secure, or as secure as you can feel in this type of stand where you don’t clip it on or something. The bottom of the “feet” were also padded, to help avoid slippage on slippery surfaces (e.g., airplane meal tray). I was quite pleased.
For me, the two big tests were during my trips: how much weight and bulk would it add, and how well would it do on the plane?
Frankly, I was pleased in both cases. The Akron stand in its folded configuration is bigger than some other stand (e.g., the Compass), but because it’s weight is low, it doesn’t seem like a problem.
On the plane, it worked great, honestly. While this picture below is most definitely not me–I don’t even own a suit, for example–that’s pretty much how it looked. Same movie, even! (Heck, judging by the seat colors, it’s the same airline.)
So what’s the gist? It’s light; it works; it’s inexpensive. Frankly, this is a durn good stand, and I can recommend it without any reservations whatsoever. The only thing I dislike about the stand even a bit is the fact that the two “feet” aren’t ratcheted like the back; they just open and shut on a regular hinge. It would be nice if it had a ratchet for the feet, but honestly, it’s quibbling. (It does not have an angle setting for using your iPad in virtual keyboard typing mode, however, and I know that might be a deal-breaker for some. Since I never use my iPad like that for any serious typing–I get out my Apple Bluetooth keyboard–that is quite literally not a consideration for me. But judge for yourself.)
Doug says: good product.
What it is: Portable Fold-Up Stand for Apple iPad
What I liked: Folds up small; lightweight; inexpensive; doesn’t flip out the TSA scanners
What needs improvement: Rachets for the feet as well as the back would be good; no setting for typing on the virtual keyboard