The iPad is an astonishing work of art and engineering. However, it lacks a means to stand it up on a flat surface. While Apple could have easily included a fold-out tripod-style leg that extended from the back of the device, doing so would have impinged on its aesthetic design. Apple does offer an optional iPad Case ($39), which not only protects the device but can be folded back to act as stand for viewing videos and images. In addition, Apple offers an optional iPad Dock ($29) and an iPad Keyboard Dock ($69), both of which stand the iPad up. But each of these includes a connector port and neither works with an iPad when it is protected by the optional case. (Apple accessories are available at apple.com/ipad/accessories.)
Fortunately, third-party developers were quick to offer a variety of stands for the iPad, ranging from simple and economical to expensive and elegant. I've organized this review into three tiers based on pricing: economy, midrange, and high-end. While each of the stands featured here reasonably accomplish the same objective—standing the iPad up for better viewing—each has its own design aesthetics and approach to fulfill the customer's needs.
Economy stands (under $40)
BookArc provides you with an attractive curved base with a slot that holds your iPad. The product ships in a beautiful box and includes the base and two silicon inserts that slip into that slot and hold the iPad without scratching it. BookArc will hold an iPad with or without a case, provided that the case is not too thick. (The iPad case sold by Apple works with this stand.) BookArc can hold your iPad in horizontal or vertical viewing positions, but does not allow for much angling of the iPad. This can be improved somewhat by using the base without the silicon insert, but this method can scratch the iPad—you should only try it when your iPad is protected by a case! BookArc's alloy base matches the iPad's body, making the stand look like a natural extension of the iPad itself.
Like BookArc, GroovyStand is a base with a slot that holds the iPad. However, the small wooden block with a notch cut in it is a more basic and less expensive solution. Like some of the other stands, it doesn't do a great job of supporting an iPad sheathed in a case, but it works adequately as a simple stand.
In addition to the Writer, GroovyStand comes in Groovy Round, Groovy Square, and Groovy Dual models. The Writer and the Dual models have the largest base (5.5 x 4.75 inches) and are the most stable, but none of the GroovyStand models provide back support for the iPad. Still, if you don't mind a rustic, minimalist design, this is the most economical stand in this round-up.
Midrange stands ($40-$60)
Griffin is known for creating solid, high-quality, hardware accessories, and A-Frame bolsters that reputation. This sturdy, collapsible, easel-like stand holds the iPad securely in place and easily accommodates the device with or without a thin case. The A-Frame is a little bulky and not as attractive as some of the other alternatives.
Nevertheless, the A-Frame is quite functional in both portrait and landscape modes, and the heavier base design provides a more stable platform for the iPad to rest upon.
FrameDock turns the iPad into a digital photography display. This stand encloses the iPad within a traditional wood frame, ideal when the iPad is in picture frame mode. The FrameDock can be positioned in either portrait or landscape orientation; use the one most prevalent in the photos you're displaying. Slipping the iPad into FrameDock is simple, and the frame includes a concealed standard connector that lets you power and charge the iPad during its photo display duties.
This peg-based stand has a rounded burnished aluminum design similar to the base stand found on the Apple iMac and Apple Cinema Display monitor. The stand is one of the few available that has no problem holding an iPad encased in a protective sleeve. The A4 is comprised of the aluminum stand with a rotatable "mobile holder" attached to it. The iPad is held snuggly in place on the mobile holder by six adjustable rubber pins. This arrangement allows the iPad to be easily rotated into portrait or landscape viewing modes. Unlike stands built exclusively for the iPad, the LUXA2's adjustable pins allow it to hold other tablet devices such as the Kindle and Android-based tablets. Overall, the LUXA2 is an ideal mid-tier stand that combines an elegant design with durability and stability.
This aluminum-based stand is molded into a fixed landscape grip for bare iPads (those not enclosed in a case). The iPad seats snuggly into the stand when viewing the iPad in landscape mode and looks like an original flat-panel iMac when mounted. When viewing in portrait mode, the stand offers a static viewing angle at a slight incline akin to those provided by tri-fold iPad cases like Apple's. While this inflexible approach limits viewing angle options, the solid construction keeps the iPad attractively in place. And when set up in landscape mode, it gives the illusion of a full-featured computer. Place an Apple wireless keyboard in front of it and people might mistake the configuration for a mini-iMac!
High-end stands (over $60)
$69.99 (with custom laser engraving) $57.99 (without engraving); jadu-industries.com
The Skadoosh Flip Stand offers a stylized brushed aluminum stand with a hinged arch that folds out to stabilize the stand and folds away for added portability. Unlike other products, the Flip Stand features a clamp mechanism that lets you easily adjust the viewing angle to just about any position. Like some other stands, Skadoosh can hold an iPad encased in Apple's optional case and similar thin cases. The $69.99 version of the stand includes custom laser engraving of your name, company logo, etc., on the face of the stand.
Joule is an expensive and highly portable stand with an antenna-like, magnetized leg that folds out to stabilize the base. The sleeve that the iPad slips into is lined with velvet to prevent scratches and smudges. A notch in the base lets you access the Home button easily when the iPad is held in portrait viewing mode. The Joule Stand is a bit too expensive for my tastes, but if portability and image are important to you, and if the price isn't an issue, you might want to take a closer look at Joule—it's the ultimate "bling" stand for iPad owners.
Which stand should you get?
These stands represent a sampling of the first generation of stands for the iPad, but there's no clear winner in my mind. Which one should you get? You need to ask yourself three questions:
- How you will be using the stand? For example, does it need to be ultra-portable because you'll be carrying with you wherever you go, or will it more or less be a permanent fixture on your desk? Will you be using it with or without an iPad case?
- What is your sense of aesthetics? Do you work at a company where image is important and your accessories need to reflect that? Do you prefer a functional look?
- How much are you willing to spend?
You might decide to purchase a couple of stands—one for work and one for home—and not worry about portability. Ultimately, the choice will come down to personal taste and needs. There are good choices available right now… and more to come in the future.
Make Your Own Stand
(cost: materials and your time)
The GroovyStand reviewed earlier in the article is pretty much a piece of wood with a slot cut in it. It would be pretty easy to make a similar stand with a nice piece of wood, a saw, sandpaper, some wood glue or a couple of wood screws, and some paint or wood stain. You could make it as thick and sturdy or thin and svelte as you like. You could even add a triangular back support angled for best display. Here's a sample drawing that might give you some ideas:
Using this drawing as a basis for your design, you could add stability by increasing the width and depth of the stand or making the triangular support higher. You could cut the notch to fit your iPad with a case or without one. You could even cut a double notch to support both. Round the edges and paint it glossy black or white to give it a more stylish look. Clear pine is easier to work with but not as strong or as attractive as hardwood. (Note: When you consider the value of your time, this is not the least expensive solution. But if you enjoy woodworking, you might give it a try. )