Review: Thought Out Stabile Pro Stand for iPad
Next to cases and simple chargers, mounting solutions have become some of the most common and widely demanded iPad accessories over the past two years: virtually every major accessory maker has created at least one product designed to hold the iPad and/or iPad 2 upright. Today, we're looking at five new iPad mounts that use very different approaches; three are tabletop stands, and two others are cabinet and wall mounts. They are Choiix's Wave Aluminum Stand ($40), iKit's NuVu Rotating Stand for iPad 2 ($40), Just Mobile's Horizon ($50), Macally's MagStand 2 ($40), and Thought Out's Stabile Pro ($85-$100). This review looks at Stabile Pro.
If you’re not familiar with Thought Out’s original Stabile, here’s the story: whereas most iPad stands are made from lightweight metals or plastics, Thought Out delivered a frame made with nearly four pounds of steel, combining a butterfly-shaped device holder with an Apple monitor-inspired leg. Lacking any sort of adjustability, Stabile was made to keep an iPad on a single reclining angle for video, including an elongated hole in the leg to accommodate a self-supplied Dock Connector cable. It was offered in two colors—black for $60 or silver for $70—each with black pads that kept on falling off.
Stabile Pro looks and feels a lot like Stabile, but with several enhancements. As before, your dollars are going mostly to pay for the four pounds of steel—Made in USA-certified, the company notes—though the new stand is a better design. The problematic black pads have been replaced with glossy rubber versions that won’t slip off, and in addition to the previous black-on-black and black-on-silver color options, there’s now an ultra white-on-white version, with the black Stabile Pro going for $85 and the white and silver ones selling for $100. While the semi-glossy silver version still doesn’t quite match Apple’s brighter aluminum iPads or Macs, it’s fairly close, and the other colors are mostly matte-finished save for the shiny rubber pads. Thought Out now also includes a circular silver “TO” logo badge at the bottom of each stand’s cable management hole, matching a chrome ball joint that’s hidden behind the butterfly iPad holder.
There are two things that are impressive in the Stabile Pro design, the first of which is that ball joint, which enables an iPad to be tilted and turned on many different angles, then tightened into position with a black plastic screw for stability. Though other, smaller stands offer almost as much flexibility by merely letting you choose your device’s orientation and adjusting its horizontal angle, some users may enjoy the ability to make 80 degrees worth of side-tilting (vertical angle) adjustments with the ball joint rather than just turning the stand itself around. In another neat little design touch, Thought Out brings the steel to a surprisingly small point right below that ball joint, demonstrating the strength of the metal, and adds an alternate cable manager above the joint if you need it—possibly for an upside-down iPad or iPad 2.
It’s impossible to ignore the fact that Stabile Pro is still really huge. With a curvy footprint that’s roughly 8.6” wide by 6.5” deep at its extremes, it consumes a lot more space and feels a lot heavier than most of the iPad stands out there. Some potential users will like the extra bulk of the steel, but others will find it to be unnecessary. The iPad holder is capable of accommodating bare or encased iPads of either generation, but then, so are much smaller and simpler stands we’ve reviewed. Stabile Pro’s major advantage for some users will be that it lifts an iPad nearly 4 inches off of the table it’s standing on, whereas most stands these days offer between 1 and 3 inches of elevation.
While Stabile Pro is better than its 2010 predecessor, it’s also considerably more expensive at a time when its rivals have been gravitating towards lower price points—the black $85 version is steep, and it’s hard to imagine that different paint alone seriously could justify added expenses for the silver and white $100 versions. If you’re looking for a relatively versatile stand in your choice of colors, and you’re willing to pay a premium for it, you’ll find Stabile Pro to be a good option. Otherwise, there are quite a few stands that offer much of the same appeal in lighter, smaller, and less expensive form factors.