Review: Power Support Swivel Fix Stand
Pros: An impressively sturdy adjustable iPod mini mount that can be used in the home or in a car, providing a gallery-quality metal holder with precision-tooled components and a silicone rubber case of the buyer’s choice.
Cons: Pricey, hard to use for dual purpose because it isn’t as easy to attach to and detach from a vehicle as it might have been, and value is iffy for those iPod mini users who already have official Apple Docks.
Though alternatives to Apple’s official iPod Docks have regrettably become uncommon in recent months, Power Support’s all-metal Swivel Fix Stands are now available as options for owners of third-generation iPods and iPod minis. Strong, heavy and professional looking, the Swivel Fix Stands look like the sort of iPod holders that would be custom made for modern store or art gallery displays. The only question is whether you would want such a mount for use in your home or your car.
Each Stand consists of a flat metal plate that rests on any flat surface, an iPod mounting bracket large enough to hold an iPod inside of a silicone case, and a two-piece hinge system that connects the plate and mounting bracket while permitting 90 degrees of iPod vertical angle adjustment, plus roughly 20 degrees of horizontal adjustment.
There are four versions of the Swivel Fix Stand, all identical save for their iPod holding brackets. We tested the MS-41A for the iPod mini, which also includes and accommodates a Round Type iPod mini Silicone Jacket Set (below). Power Support also plans a MS-44A version to include and accommodate a Square Type Jacket Set, a case we’ve reviewed separately (and very much liked). Each iPod mini Swivel Fix Stand costs $48.00. Two full-sized iPod versions of the Stand are available, as well: the IS-45A (10/15/20GB 3G iPod) and IS-46A (30/40GB 3G iPod) Stands are larger and cost $54.00.
As least as an iPod mini accessory, Power Support’s design is unique and unconventionally attractive. While serving almost the same purpose as Apple’s Dock - minus the direct line-out functionality, the Swivel Fix stand’s multi-piece metallic appearance is a strong contrast with Apple’s glossy white plastic option. Harder-core users will likely find it a good match for the anodized aluminum silver iPod mini and perhaps the blue and gold versions, though its gears-and-plates appearance probably won’t do as much for female users. We haven’t tested the full-sized iPod version, and won’t vouch for whether their glossier casings are as good a match with the Swivel Fix’s metal, but the mini and Swivel Fix are generally a good-looking pair.
Metal-on-metal scratching is prevented by Power Support’s inclusion of Silicone Jacket cases with each Swivel Fix stand: each iPod bracket is sized to hold the iPod inside of a case, which at this point seems to be the smartest way to design any iPod accessory. Unfortunately, Power Support’s iPod mini bracket isn’t tolerant of most third-party cases: iSkin and ####’s standard cases, for example, didn’t fit into the bracket, though ####’s exo3mini worked fine. A bit of user bending might remedy this problem, but we weren’t going to play around with that in our testing.
An additional wrinkle on that point involves the distinction between Power Support’s MS-41A and MS-44A mounts: the MS-41A accommodates and includes the company’s rounded-edged case, while the MS-44A is designed to work with their square-edged case, which we strongly prefer, and may have just enough extra room for rounded third-party options. Since the MS-41A Swivel Fix as shipped isn’t going to work with the cases you already own, our advice would be to wait and get the MS-44A version, which at the very least includes a great new case, and may be more compatible with your old favorites.
In truth, the largely aluminum and steel Swivel Fix Stands are more than just suitable desktop Dock alternatives; they can also be used as car mounting accessories, as well. When used in this way, they’re most comparable to the Pro Clip Tilt Swivel Holders ($34.95) we previously reviewed, but unlike Pro Clip’s products, the Swivel Fix stands are made entirely from metal, work either on desks or in vehicles, and won’t scratch your iPod once inside. As a result, we’d generally recommend Power Support’s offerings as superior ways to hold the iPod, regardless of your purposes.
The only hitch, unfortunately, is that while Pro Clip makes numerous additional vehicle-specific attachments ($29.95) that connect to a car’s dashboard, Power Support’s more generic solution is free but not great. Each Swivel Fix Stand includes two strips of 3M tape, which like other simple adhesive attachments we’ve tested from a separate competitor (Pro Fit) are less than desirable alternatives for many users. Since the Stand’s bottom mounting plate is flat, you’ll need to isolate a similarly flat surface in your car to serve as a mounting location. If this isn’t an option, consider yourself forewarned.
One iLounge editor saw Power Support’s choice of 3M tape over Velcro as a missed opportunity: if the latter adhesive was chosen, the mount could be entirely portable between vehicle and home rather than forcing the user to choose one location or the other. While there’s some question as to how many users would use the Swivel Fix in both places, and there’s no question that those who are so interested could easily get such tape for themselves, Power Support may want to consider this similarly inexpensive option (or the use of a more sophisticated in-car mounting solution) going forward.
Round Type Silicone Jacket Mini
While we love the Square Type Silicone Jacket, there’s less to be said for Power Support’s Round Type case for the iPod mini. It’s a very simple product - a silicone rubber sheathe with five holes, four of which are obvious: one at the top for iPod insertion, one each for screen and Click Wheel, and one for the Dock Connector port. The Dock Connector hole is on the too-small side; it works fine with Apple and Belkin peripherals, but not ones with larger Dock Connector plugs.
And unusually, the top hole is on the too-large side: it’s entirely open with an odd design that includes a precision-molded lip to hold the iPod mini in place, and a back flap of rubber that stands taller than the front and sides off the top of the Silicone Jacket. The flap is unlike the company’s more protective slit-like opening on the 3G iPod Silicone Jacket, and given the case’s small fifth hole located dead in the center of the rubber, it’s probably designed to work with a lanyard necklace, though none is included.
The best thing we can say about the Round Type is that it’s reasonably protective. Power Support wisely decided to pack-in screen protection in the form of scratch-resistant Crystal Film and Click Wheel protection with transparent Wheel Film. Together with the case, these two Films protect all of the iPod save its top, Dock Connector port, and Action button, making the case offering above average in overall protectivity.
That said, unlike Power Support’s Square Type case, the Round Type case offers little that we haven’t seen before. It’s a fair overall compromise for those who want a little more thickness and a different sort of Click Wheel protection than what’s offered by ####’s exo3 series cases. Generally speaking, if you don’t have another rubber case already, it’s a fine pack-in for the Swivel Fix mount, but it’s not super-stylish and wouldn’t independently be our first choice in this case category.
Value and Conclusions
Best used, the Swivel Fix Stand is an attractive alternative to the iPod mini’s Dock: it looks really nice, matches (or at least complements) the iPod mini’s anodized casing, and gives a user the ability to adjust the viewing angle of the iPod on a desk. In its secondary use as an in-car dashboard mount, the Swivel Fix Stand is versatile if a bit imperfect in total execution, and would be the best-looking iPod car mount available if only it jettisoned adhesive in favor of a more complete method to integrate with most or specific vehicles.
A stronger offering in its Square Type form than its Round Type form, the Swivel Fix Stand will definitely be a “mileage may vary” product depending on your needs and intentions. In your home, the Stand ($48.00) replaces Apple’s Dock ($39.00) purely in an aesthetic sense, and does not include a line-out port (which functionality can be purchased separately at additional cost from PocketDock ($29.95) or SiK ($21.95)). For purely in-home use, we think that users would really have to like or need the product’s aesthetics in order to justify the price, and it’s an easier cash pill to swallow if it includes the Square Type case, which we think is amongst the best we’ve used and otherwise sells for $22.00, unlike the $20 Round Type version.
As a car mount, the Stand is a viable if not definitively superior alternative to Pro Clip’s $34.95 iPod brackets and $29.95 vehicular mounts, serving a similar purpose for a lower price. However, its use of adhesives means that you’ll choose it for either in-car use or in-home use, not both, and therefore its utility for most people will likely depend mostly on a single one of these applications. Users looking solely for car options should also consider the company’s cupholder-based Mobile Stands to be a different, though more expensive alternative.
Our B+ rating below applies to the Square Type version of the product, which we feel represents the best value and utility for our readers, and also has the best chance of holding other companies’ case offerings without user modification. The Round Type version rates a B.
Jeremy Horwitz is Senior Editor of iLounge. A consumer electronics fanatic who practices intellectual property law in his spare time, Jeremy’s recent book, Law School Insider, has been called the “best book about law school - ever,” and he continues to contribute to Ziff-Davis electronic entertainment magazines.