Review: Vogel’s Ringo Universal Mounting System
Shown off at the CEA Line Show in New York City, Vogel's Ringo Universal Mounting System for iPad 2 is just what it sounds like: a multi-piece mounting solution for Apple's latest tablet computer. Comparable in scope to other modular case systems we've seen, such as ModulR's Case, Vogel's implementation is heavier-duty, using rugged-feeling plastic and metal components instead of thinner materials and nylon. The core of the system is a shell called the Holder, available only in a Starter Pack ($60) along with the company's Wall Mount -- extras of the latter can be purchased separately for $30. We also tested an additional accessory called Car Mount ($60) for this review.
The core of the system is the black plastic, Smart Cover-compatible Holder. Like many shells, it snaps onto the back of the device, coming right up to but not covering the front edge. Instead of a flat back, however, there’s a 1.5” to 2” circular depression in the center, roughly 1/4” deep and lined with metal. This opening is what allows the case to connect easily to circular Vogel’s mounts that can be placed in a variety of locations, including the aforementioned Wall Mount and Car Mount. While the circular locking mechanism necessitates a thicker case, Vogel’s made the most of what it had to work with. If you have one, the iPad Smart Cover attaches on the left side through an appropriately-sized opening along the edge. When using the holder, the video viewing angle is a bit precarious due to the thickness of the case, but everything else works as expected.
Our major complaint about Holder is common to many other shells we’ve reviewed: Vogel’s has left long openings along the top and bottom edges. While these openings provide easy access to the buttons and ports, they also leave much more of the iPad 2’s easily-scratched aluminum back exposed than necessary. The openings for the rear camera, side switch, and volume rocker are done well, however, demonstrating that the company could have done a better job tailoring the case. We do like that there’s a waveguide-style chamber above the speaker for passive audio amplification. It partially protects the grill and somewhat improves performance. Vogel’s also includes screen-protecting film with Holder, adding to its value.
Included with the Starter Pack is Wall Mount. This 1-1/4” tall metal cylinder comes with a rather long screw, as well as a bracket for secure installation on a wall. The rubber cap pulls off to reveal a centered hole in the plastic bottom for driving the screw. Two plastic hooks grasp the inside of the depression on the back of Holder. They hold it really securely, while also allowing the tablet to be rotated all the way around depending on how it’s going to be used. It is a smart and clean implementation, limited only by its single method of installation and its lack of angle adjustments.
Car Mount is much sturdier than many of the similiary-purposed solutions we have seen in the past. Most simply have a strap that wraps around the posts of a front seat headrest, usually doubling back with Velcro. The model from Vogel’s is a 9.5” long, 4” deep plastic block. On one end, there is a version of Wall Mount, now attached to a flexible hinge. A segment that runs the entire length of the accessory is removable on the other side. Pushing the slider on top activates a release, although a lock holds it in place when the Mount is flexed out straight. There are two small gaps between the halves; this is where the bars of the headrest fit. The two pieces fit back together and the iPad 2 snaps onto the mount. It feels very sturdy, and the adjustable neck allows for a variety of angles. We have no fear that it would come undone or even move around in bumpy conditions.
Though we haven’t reviewed any of these items, we should also note that Vogel’s offers Table Stand ($20), a simple kickstand-style accessory that allows for both portrait and landscape orientation use of the tablet. An extending arm called Flex Mount ($60) is set to be available by September, alongside Adhesive Mount ($30) —a version of Wall Mount without the need for a screw. As another complement to the set, the company has a free app called WallTimes for download in the App Store—a cute timer and clock system for use when the iPad’s been wall-mounted.
The Ringo Universal Mounting System is certainly more expensive than other mounting system options we’ve tested, but the look and feel of the components are more impressive, as well. Apart from the top and bottom openings, we like Holder—covering those gaps up would bring the shell from good to great. Wall Mount and Car Mount also work very well, with the former excelling in its simple, clean looks and the latter taking an different but still successful approach. If you’re willing to go all in on the home and car mounting packages, you’ll likely be very happy with the result. Pricing is the biggest factor holding us back from a higher recommendation. At current levels, the set is worthy of a B and general recommendation.