Review: Pivotal Podium for iPhone 3G + iPod touch
How much are you -- or should you be -- willing to pay for something that does nothing more than hold your iPhone or iPod touch on a convenient viewing angle on top of your desk? Following the success of Just Mobile's $40 Xtands for iPod touch and iPhone, Pivotal has released Podium ($68), a more deluxe version. On a positive note, Podium is heavier and decidedly shinier than the all-aluminum Xtand design, but whether it's worth paying a $28 premium for will be a personal question -- in our view, the price is just a little too steep.
Podium is sold in platinum or pearl white versions, with a polished, curved metal stand that’s roughly the same size and shape as Just Mobile’s, but a little higher; this is the classy, eye-catching component of the product. The developer, Pivotal (aka Procreate), notes that the base is made from solid steel and finished in polished nickel, giving the stand a gloss that may or may not match your desktop items as well as the Xtand—as Mac users, we have a lot more aluminum on our desks, but your setup may well vary. In any case, the steel is probably responsible for Podium’s more substantial weight; both designs fully and properly support the devices they hold.
Unlike Xtand, which uses a metal frame with rubber corner brackets to hold either an iPhone or an iPod touch depending on model—not both—Podium’s holder is made from plastic, and bends to grip both the iPhone 3G and second-generation iPod touch. Xtand’s device holder merely rotates, but Podium uses a ball joint-based mounting mechanism that gives you an even easier way to adjust the screen into widescreen, portrait, and other viewing angles, including tilts. Unless you have both an iPhone 3G and an iPod touch to use with this stand, you’ll find the tilt to be the most significant benefit of the Pivotal design: you needn’t move the stand to change the tilt of the iPhone or iPod touch inside. While turning the Xtand provides similar functionality to left and right tilts, it doesn’t permit for the same upwards and downwards viewing angles Podium offers.
You’ll have to decide whether or not Podium’s looks and the ball joint’s adjustability are worth paying for, but in our view, the pricing alone puts this accessory on the fine edge of recommendability, falling into flat B territory solely because the design looks so nice and does what it’s supposed to do. Readers have repeatedly suggested that they’re not interested in paying premium prices for mere stands without electronics, and what Just Mobile managed with Xtand was a reasonable combination of pricing, functionality, and good looks. Pivotal’s version enhances the functionality a little, the pricing a lot, and stays roughly on par in the aesthetics department. That adds up to a good product that’s somewhat too expensive, but if you have $70 to drop on a desk stand and really prefer the looks or tilting here, we wouldn’t discourage you from making a purchase.