Review: Just Mobile UpStand for iPad
Achieving some appealing balance of style and functionality hasn't been especially difficult for iPad stand designers -- we've seen nearly a dozen new options since the iPad was released in April, and most look pretty good while offering at least a little user adjustability. Somewhat surprisingly, the established Apple device stand developers at Just Mobile have gone in a different direction with UpStand ($50), a new aluminum option that looks great, but doesn't live up to the versatility of the company's earlier products. Whether that's an issue for you will depend largely on the ways you use your iPad.
Just Mobile’s first iPhone product was Xtand for iPhone, an iMac/Apple Cinema Display-inspired leg with a rotating iPhone mount in the center. The rotating feature let you watch videos in widescreen orientation, or charge and sync your device in landscape, using a rear thumbscrew and a modest height adjustment system to change the iPhone’s viewing angle. Later, the company debuted the laptop-specific Xtand Pro, which was designed to elevate a MacBook at your choice of two heights above the surface of a desk while tilting it to a fixed angle that was convenient for typing.
Though other companies have released Xtand for iPhone-alikes at iPad sizes, Just Mobile’s UpStand is instead based upon Xtand Pro, with three design changes. The prior oval base has been replaced by a roughly 5.9” radial-finished aluminum circle from which two thin, matching metal pipes stand 7” tall—replacements for the thicker single elevating tube in Xtand Pro.
Then there’s the iPad bracket, which has shifted from the X-shape used in both Xtands to an upside-down V with similarly rubber-tipped feet. This V-mount can safely support a reclining iPad regardless of whether it’s bare or inside of a case. Two large screws connect the iPad bracket to the pipes; there’s nothing else in the package to attach to them.
Therein lies UpStand’s surprise: both Xtand and Xtand Pro could be adjusted in some way, but UpStand merely serves to lift the iPad 1.5” off of a flat surface and lean it gently back, nothing else. You can rotate the device on 90-degree angles by picking it up yourself and placing it back inside UpStand’s feet, but there’s no tilt adjustment, off-angle turning capability, or other frills; using the keyboard requires a cramped, upturned hand. It’s nearly as different as can be from Luxa2’s H4 iPad Holder, which has fluctuated in price from $50 to $60, and enables you to adjust the iPad to virtually any practical angle imaginable. Both H4 and UpStand are made from a mix of aluminum and rubber, with H4 losing style points only for its somewhat spidery iPad mount, most of which is invisible once the iPad’s placed inside.
While UpStand looks nice and does what it promises to do, there’s no escaping the fact that it’s an underachiever relative to almost all of the competing stands that have been released for the iPad, regardless of cost. Even Griffin’s low-end $30 Loop offers a choice of two mounting angles—one for keyboard use, one for upright purposes and video viewing—while options such as the aforementioned Luxa2 H4 offer considerably more versatility for roughly the same price. With UpStand, Just Mobile is apparently targeting the niche of users for whom functionality is so much less important than form that a “one angle fits all” approach is acceptable. That wouldn’t be us, but our limited recommendation acknowledges that UpStand’s attractive aluminum parts and reasonable price will appeal to some people despite its limitations.