Review: PlasticSmith tux tlt Stand for iPod
Pros: Simple acrylic iPod and iPod mini stands available in different colors, sizes, and orientations. Upright version is especially attractive.
Cons: Each stand is only compatible with a specific size of iPod, and not adjustable into upright or reclining positions. No charging, syncing, or audio/video-out capability without separate attachments. Trophy stand-like look will appeal to some more than others, particularly in tilt version.
If you want to mount your iPod on a desk, you have two options: a “stand,” which is typically a plastic or metal iPod holder without any electronic components, or a “dock” that holds your iPod and connects it to your computer. We reviewed our first stand (ModPod, iLounge rating: B+) back in December of 2001, only months after the release of the first iPod, and a couple of handfuls more have been released since then. The best we’ve seen is Thought Out’s iPed 2 (iLounge rating: A-), a fully adjustable stand that pivots on your choice of angles, and also resizes to accommodate iPods, iPod minis, and their cases.
The PlasticSmith has previously specialized in plastic Mac mini mounting accessories - we especially liked its acrylic “mini skirt: glo,” a white- or blue-lit pedestal that made a Mac mini glow. Now the company has released tux ($35.00, their capitalization), a series of eight acrylic iPod stands that divide into several catgories.
All of the tux stands use two clear polished vertical plastic arms to hold iPods, but from there, they differ. Half use white plastic bases, the other half use black plastic bases. Half are made for iPod minis, half for full-sized iPods - each with a 4.5” x 4” base. And half are built in “tilt” (reclining iPod, 22 degrees) position, half in “upright” position. Picking a black plastic full-sized iPod stand in upright position gets you one of the eight options; if you have a different orientation preference or second iPod, you’ll need a second stand.
We generally liked how the tux stands looked, preferring the thinner, simpler acrylic sides of the upright versions to the larger-sided tilt versions. Each of the clear acrylic iPod holders displays your iPod in a trophy-like fashion, and the black or white bases do make your iPod look pretty elegant whether or not it’s connected to an accessory, such as a cable for synchronization. Four small rubber pads on each base keep tux stable and scratch-free on flat surfaces.
And more tux stands are planned for the future. As The PlasticSmith’s site notes, and we confirmed through our testing, the full-sized tux stands only fit specific full-sized iPods: they’re not made for 40 or 60GB iPods, or older first- and second-generation iPods. Given that the bulk of iPods out there are of 30GB or smaller capacity, and that most people own just one iPod, that’s not a huge issue, but it does highlight one of tux’s major differences with Ped 2: they’re not one-size-fits-all.
That’s one of a couple of reasons that we liked, but didn’t love the designs. As noted, each tux stand holds one type of iPod in one position, a sharp contrast with fully adjustable stands such as Ped 2. Tux forces you to make a choice, and once made, you’ll have to live with it. Moreover, given what The PlasticSmith has shown itself capable of doing with Mac mini stands, these designs are nice, but not breakthrough - we’ve seen similar things done before, and the company hasn’t used any cool tricks (like glowing lights, just as one example) to make tux stand out.
It also goes without saying that the tux stands lack the Dock Connector and audio/video outputs now found in Apple’s $39 official iPod Docks, an omission that’s more easily forgivable in a $15 stand design like ModPod, a $25 design like Bubble Design’s Habitat (iLounge rating: B), or the free clear acrylic stand that comes with Targus’s RemoteTunes remote control (iLounge rating: A-). We similarly noted the absence of electronic functionality in the review of Ped 2, but that stand benefitted from a lot of customizability that tux doesn’t offer.
Overall, the tux stands are nice-looking iPod stands that will be better suited to some users’ tastes and needs than others. Based on their functionality and pricing, we were on the edge of B/B- ratings for both versions, ultimately liking the look of the upright version enough to bump it up to a B. However, we think that The PlasticSmith can do even more to evolve tux’s appeal. As Thought Out proved when it followed up the original Ped (iLounge rating: B-) with Ped 2, continued work can polish a good stand design into a great one. Given the range of electronic, mechanical and aesthetic options that are at its disposal, we hope that The PlasticSmith brings more of its innovative Mac mini stand thinking into the iPod market - and soon.