Review: JaDu Industries Skadoosh
True docks for the iPad have been few and far between, but stands -- docks without any electronic components inside -- have become numerous over the past few months, most using iPad-matching silver metals as justifications for higher prices than earlier plastic iPod and iPhone stands. Today, we separately review two very different stands from a couple of stand-focused companies: the second is Skadoosh ($100) from JaDu Industries. Editor's Note: JaDu subsequently lowered Skadoosh to $70, and though we aren't updating the rest of this review, this remedies a major issue we noted below.
When we took our very first look at Skadoosh a couple of months ago, it was a substantially different product from the one that’s shipping: a little rough around the edges from pre-production manufacturing, the relatively small machined aluminum stand contained a novel plastic iPad holder that was capable of ratcheting to change the device’s viewing angle, and a metal flip-out kickstand that was only needed when the iPad was reclined to a profoundly sharp level. JaDu had come up with a design that was considerably more versatile than Element Case’s Joule Stand, and at $58, a lot less expensive, too. There was only one hitch: the plastic iPad holder only accommodated unencased or very thinly encased iPads.
Before we began testing Skadoosh, JaDu let us know that some last-minute changes were being made to its design: notably, the plastic holder was being tweaked to accommodate iPads in cases, a tweak that excited us. Some time later, the final version of Skadoosh arrived with the new and improved plastic part, as well as a matching metal and rubber support arm for the iPad, which helped to lessen strain when the device was placed on a recline. JaDu also added a good enough soft fabric drawstring case for the stand (a Skadoosh bag?) to let users carry it around, and made one other adjustment—the price went from $58 to $100.
That huge price increase put us in a quandary, as we’re now obliged to qualify what previously would have been a high recommendation: though it’s saddled with a price tag that’s just too high, this is the best and most useful iPad stand we’ve tested so far. JaDu doesn’t use as much metal as in some of its rivals, but what it does use gets put to work in the best possible way, as the folded Skadoosh occupies only 4.7” of depth, 3” of width, and 1.4” of height, yet has the ability to hold an iPad on either orientation, at your choice of angles, and with added support from that fold-out leg only as necessary. The thoughtfulness of the engineering puts simpler, less versatile stands to shame, and its handling of iPads inside or outside of cases would put it right at the top of our list as a carry-anywhere, work-anywhere solution.
We’d describe the quality of the metal and plastic components here as nearly great—better-looking than in Thought Out’s Stabile, but not quite up to the level of polish we saw in Joule. The aluminum parts are all precision-machined, with only one really sharp edge that’s found on the back, away from where fingers are likely to go naturally, and the black plastic iPad-holding “rocker” piece isn’t beautiful, but it looks totally fine and holds the iPad without scuff or scratch concerns. A tiny bit of extra polish on both the metal and plastic parts would take Skadoosh from the “good” category to the premium, somewhat wow-inducing territory of the higher-end chrome Joules, though Skadoosh really doesn’t need to do anything that would take its price up further.
That’s because the $100 price tag is already pretty brutal—so high by comparison with Griffin’s A-Frame or Luxa2’s H4 iPad Holder that JaDu is going to face an uphill battle convincing people to pick Skadoosh instead. It helps that Skadoosh mounts an iPad so low on the surface of a table that it can be tilted back to serve as a keyboard, something that neither A-Frame nor H4 accommodates as smoothly, and that it’s so much smaller that it can be more easily tossed in any bag and carried around. A-Frame folds flat but occupies a lot more space in a bag, while H4 isn’t designed in any way to be portable. Skadoosh does have its advantages, but then, so do its rivals.
From our perspective, Skadoosh is a great iPad stand design that loses some of its natural appeal solely on the basis of its price tag. Users who got in on it during its now-expired $58 pre-order stage will be absolutely thrilled by what they’re getting for the price, which represents a very fair value for a solid and versatile product. Everyone else will have to weigh the question of whether its diminutive size justifies the premium JaDu is asking over options from more established rivals. Our hope is that JaDu will continue to produce variants on this design, work to get the price lower, and enjoy the success it deserves for coming up with something so cool.