At first glance, the Just-Mobile Xtand and the Pivotal Podium seem like similar products. Both have an attractive, modern look to them and both serve the same purpose—to hold your iPhone securely, allowing you to view and access the screen while you’re sitting at a table or desk. However, there are some subtle and significant differences between these two contenders. Let’s go 12 rounds with them and discuss these differences blow by blow.
Round 1: Packaging
Most people say they don’t care about the packaging of a product, but marketing research indicates otherwise. This is especially true of Apple fans, some of whom have been known to save the packaging for every Mac they’ve ever owned. The Xtand takes this first round with its attractive iPhone-styled black box. The Podium comes in a plastic blister pack with a hologram graphic on the front; for $68 I expected something a little nicer.
Round 2: Stability Xtand: 4 oz. Podium: 16 oz
These products are designed to be used on a table, and a little extra weight increases their stability. The Podium wins this round; it feels more sturdy and stable than its light-weight counterpart.
Round 3: Surface grip
The majority of people will be using these stands on their desk, and some of those desks will have a glass top or a nice finish to them, so it’s important to know which of these stands is least likely to scratch up the surface. Both have rubber pads on the bottom to prevent this. However, the Xtand has two thin pads (which were crooked on my unit), whereas the Podium has a larger non-marring pad that encircles the entire bottom of the base.
Round 4: Adjustability
You can adjust the Xtand and slide the cradle that holds the iPhone up or down about an inch, but that’s all. The Podium, on the other hand, lets you swivel your iPhone in almost any direction. If your needs are simple and you don’t need the adjustment flexibility, the Xtand will probably suffice. But if you plan on using a stand in different locations and need to fine-tune the viewing angle, the Podium is the clear winner.
Round 5: Cradle
Each of these products has a base that rests on the desk and a cradle that holds your iPhone. The Xtand’s cradle has four simple rubber corner pieces that hold the iPhone in place. The Podium has three soft snap-over molded fingers which grip onto your iPhone securely without scratching the chrome-beveled edge. Both cradles do the trick, but I feel safer putting my phone in the Podium.
Round 6: Material and appearance
The Xtand is crafted from solid, light-weight, brushed aluminum, which matches most of Apple’s newest line-up of Macs. The Podium comes in two options, both of which have cradles made of durable ABS polymer. The “Platinum” version has a base made of solid steel with a polished nickel chrome finish; the “Pearl” version is made of solid steel but coated to give it the appearance of pearl. Too much personal preference is involved in judging this round, so I’m awarding a tie.
Round 7: Adaptability
The Xtand ships with two sets of cradle tips—one set for the first generation iPhone and one for the iPhone 3G. All you have to do is swap these rubber tips and you can use the Xtand with either device. The Podium is less adaptable—the Pearl version is only available for the iPhone 3G, while the Platinum version is available in two models: one for the original iPhone and one for the 3G.
Round 8: Cable management
Since your stand doubles as a dock, you’ll most likely want to sync and/or charge your iPhone from time to time. Both stands come with iMac-like bases with cut-outs that let you pass your sync cable through.
Round 9: Rotation
It’s relatively easy to rotate your iPhone from portrait to landscape viewing mode (and back again) on both of these stands. (Don’t over-tighten the thumb screw holding the Xtand cradle—you might have a tough time loosening it.)
Round 10: Size
Toe to toe, these two stands are almost the exact same size. The base on the Podium is a little wider and thicker but not by much.
Round 11: Durability
The chrome nickel-plated base on the Podium looks really sharp, but I suspect that after some time, it would start to show some wear and tear, similar to the chrome-plated back of the iPod touch or iPod Classic. The brushed aluminum finish on the Xtand is probably more durable and less likely to scratch up. Time will tell, but I’m giving this round to the Xtand.
Round 12: Price
Price is probably one of the biggest factors in your purchasing decision. The Xtand is available from many online retailers for around $40; the Podium is sold exclusively on Pivotal’s Web site for $68. For many consumers in the current economy, it wouldn’t matter if the Podium won every other round of this match up; they’re probably going to go with the less expensive Xtand.
And the overall winner is…
The final score: The Podium wins four rounds, the Xtand wins four rounds, and they tie four rounds. What I haven’t attempted to do is weigh the importance of each round. For example, price (round 12) may be far more important to you than size (round 10). Go back through the rounds, check the ones that are most important to you, and pick your personal winner. Both of these contenders are impressive.