Review: Macally Ecostand 2 Bamboo Viewing Stand for iPad 2
We've never seen an iPad 2 case and stand quite like this before. Most of the time, stands and cases are sold separately, but when they're not, the stand will somehow be built into the case's front or back. Macally chose a different route with its Ecostand 2 Bamboo Viewing Stand ($40). This is a two-piece solution consisting of a pretty good hard plastic shell to hold the iPad 2, and a large articulating bamboo stand that magnetically attaches to the shell's back. It's a novel pairing, and works pretty well.
The case is noteworthy because it covers so much of the iPad 2’s back. Most shells, including options from Macally itself, stop short at the top and bottom edges, leaving the tablet’s metal back more exposed than necessary. Ecostand 2’s case differs in that the hard translucent plastic extends to all four edges with strategic cutouts for the headphone port, microphone, Sleep/Wake button, side switch and volume rocker, speaker, and Dock Connector. A thin but firm strip of plastic even extends underneath the speaker, a nice touch. Each corner has either one or two slits, which provide a little bit of give when installing or removing the case. While not terribly attractive, they are functional. While this piece could rightfully be sold as a case in and of itself—albeit lacking some form of screen protection—Macally didn’t stop there. The major deviation from the norm begins with the large circular plate on the back of the case.
This plate allows the shell to attach magnetically to the included stand. Divided into three distinct sections, the bamboo slab is about 11.5” tall by 7.5” wide when unfurled. Where the sections meet, there are interlocking wooden teeth, held in place by dowels running the width of the stand. It takes a little bit of pressure to position the hinges, but they do stay securely in place, providing you with your choice of viewing angles. The teeth are a little bit roughly finished, but not offensively so, one of a couple of signs of less than ideal build quality.
On the largest of the three sections is a round depression with a magnet inside to connect to the plate on the plastic case; four plastic circles provide a bit of a buffer between the bamboo and plastic. The magnet is pretty powerful and holds the iPad 2 securely, even when upside down. Once the two pieces have been attached, the tablet can be rotated to any orientation. While we don’t see most people taking the wooden stand with them, it makes sense as a desk accessory; use the iPad 2 in the plastic case during the day and set it in the stand at night.
Ecostand 2 is a pretty novel solution—it actually makes sense, and looks good, besides. Hard plastic shells often run $30 or more. A better than average case with a really handsome stand for just a bit more? If you like the look of bamboo, it’s a solid value for the price; the only reason it doesn’t rate higher is that the included shell isn’t as protective as the best iPad 2 cases we’ve tested, particularly on the front and button areas. It may not be as practical as other options with built-in stands, but as two-piece solutions go, it’s definitely a nice option for the price.