Review: Griffin Tablet Stand
While we wait for the ideal combination of an iPad case and stand -- something that we expect will materialize later this year after the release of the second-generation iPad -- we have continued to rely upon separate stand accessories for all of our tabletop iPad needs, and developers have continued to release new options in hopes of creating something truly great. Today, we're looking at five of the most noteworthy stands that have been released in recent weeks: Amzer's low-priced Foldo Stand ($17), Griffin's similarly affordable Tablet Stand ($30), Just Mobile's elegant portable Slide ($40) and desktop Encore ($60) stands, and the ultra-portable/novel Logiix Clipstand for iPad ($30). Each of the reviews is brief and separate, sharing only introductory comments.
One point that needs to be made up front is that the ideal iPad stand has three characteristics that few prior-generation options properly address. First, we find it hard to broadly recommend stands that will work only for unencased, first-generation iPads; ideally, a stand can accommodate both protected and unprotected devices, as well as offering the potential to adjust a little for the anticipated and slightly smaller second-generation iPad. Second, the stand’s aesthetic design and novelty are important considerations for many users. And third, the price needs to be reasonable. Some decent stands are included for free with or built directly into cases. Others sell for over $100. Neither approach has merited our high recommendation for various reasons, the latter mostly because such a price is excessive in the absence of included electronic hardware or precious metals. Good stands start in the $20 range and can go up to $50 before the question of actual value for the dollar becomes tricky.
Understanding Griffin’s Tablet Stand is nearly as simple as making reference to the company’s earlier aluminum iPad stand A-Frame, a really nice design that was undone by rough edges and a price that was just a little too high. Built like an easel, the Tablet Stand is effectively a gray and black plastic version of A-Frame, reduced in size, weight, and commensurate sturdiness. Griffin seemingly built it to accommodate smaller iPad rivals such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, but Tablet Stand works almost as well as A-Frame with iPads, and delivers better value for the price.
Tablet Stand manages to eclipse its more deluxe predecessor while still offering the exact same functionality: it folds down to a nearly flat shape for travel, and unfolds for use on a nightstand or table. Whilst on its back, the stand can help to elevate the iPad for use as a keyboard, but it’s predominantly made to be used upright, holding the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode as you prefer. Because of size and weight changes to its bottom cradle, Tablet Stand is a little less tolerant of first-generation iPad cases than was A-Frame, and more susceptible to slipping around when you pull an iPad out of it on a flat surface. But it can still be used with most cases, and continues to provide sturdy support of the device as it rests passively on a recline for watching video; modest adjustments to the rear leg can be made to change the viewing angle a little.
As much as we liked A-Frame’s metal body, we tried two separate versions—one supposedly updated—and continued to find the edges rough to the touch, so Griffin’s move to plastic and rubber in Tablet Stand makes for something that actually feels better when gripped and moved. Moreover, the $20 price difference is one that takes Tablet Stand out of the middle of the stand pack and moves it down near the bottom on pricing, to a level that’s both affordable and reasonable given the design and materials here. Users looking for a highly competent, nice-looking design will find it here; Amzer’s Foldo offers greater portability and a lower price with a less attractive shell.