Metal Gear From Twelve South: BookArc MacBook Stand and BackPack Monitor Shelf
Published: Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Though we’re sent quite a few Mac accessories for possible coverage, the only ones that really interest us these days are designs that offer something really new and interesting—that’s the reason some of Twelve South’s new products have caught our attention. BookArc ($50) is a stylish curved laptop stand designed to match Apple’s MacBook Pros and Cinema Displays, holding the computer upright alongside the monitor, while BackPack ($30) is a miniature shelf that attaches to the back of a Cinema Display or iMac, providing an extra space to store a small hard disk, hub, or decorative object. Both are made from silver aluminum, with a matte finish that’s just like the metal in Apple’s monitors and computers.
Of the two items, the one that would interest us more is BookArc: the pairing of a portable laptop with a larger monitor for at-home use is increasingly common these days, and we’ve been using and liking Power Support’s Docking Stand for this purpose for a while. BookArc has its advantages: it looks cool—to our tastes, cooler than the Docking Stand—and its easily swapped rubber central inserts enable it to work with any thickness of MacBook or MacBook Pro without any need for tightening or loosening screws.
We found it easy to pull one of the inserts and replace it with another; the thick rubber padding gave us an added sense of comfort over the Docking Stand’s thinner pads, which have worked without problems but have always led us to be very careful when putting the MacBook inside or taking it out. Click on Read More for additional details.
But BookArc isn’t perfect, either. It has a decidedly larger footprint than the Power Support design, which it uses to support the computer and to stylishly curve in an visually appealing way—you’ll have to decide whether its looks are more to your liking than the simpler, more functional lines of the Docking Stand. Additionally, it raises the computer higher off your desk’s surface, for better or worse, and it costs $10 more. If we had to pick just one of these options, the difference in price alone would push us towards the less expensive and smaller Power Support version—adjusting its screws to fit the MacBook is a one-time process, and not incredibly difficult—but at the same price, BookArc would likely be the better pick.
By comparison, BackPack was a little less interesting to us, but still worthy of mention. The idea of adding a shelf to the back of a monitor makes a lot of sense for users with little desk space and a need to keep something more or less permanently mounted behind the computer; Twelve South suggests the accessory be paired with a small backup hard drive, as just one example of something that mightn’t need to be played with once it’s connected, or “action figures.” Unfortunately, the drives we use for backup are larger, more reliable units that also have power switches to consider, and we don’t have anything else that we’d want to mount behind a monitor and then need to reach around to access. It’s a bad spot for iPods or iPhones, as well as anything else that might have found its way onto our desks, but your desk and needs may obviously vary.
It’s worth a brief note that BackPack didn’t come out of its package making the right initial impression: while the metal shelf itself was in great shape, the secondary compartment where its plastic fit inserts were kept was a collection of scattered parts, covered with an onion skin-thick paper guide that wasn’t actually useful to explain all the pieces that had jumbled themselves around. We had to look on the inside of each piece before finding the two plastic inserts we needed, then plug them into two metal mounting clips, unscrew the clips and attach them to the shelf, then adjust the clips to the correct width for our display. The manual noted an optional step, attaching a thin included cable tie, which we skipped.
Packaging and initial setup aside, however, we were happy to find that BackPack was able to do something its instructions didn’t indicate—fit on the brand new iMac 21.5” and 27” models. Though its mesh-like design isn’t a perfect match for these computers—Apple uses much smaller metal holes on everything save for its Mac Pro computers—simply adjusting the width of the clips and tightening their thumbscrews was enough to secure the shelf on the back of a 27” iMac, adding a 7” by 4” tray that’s right-sized for a miniature disk drive or toys. If something like that sounds like it might help your workspace, BackPack’s a nice and reasonably priced option; for us, at least for now, it’s a solution in need of something that can actually fit back there more conveniently than it rests on a desk.
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