Review: Thought Out Ped3 Rotating Stand for iPhone
We've had Thought Out's Ped3 ($40) on one of our computer desks for weeks now, and in all honesty, though we wanted to love it, we couldn't. To its strong credit, the company has come up with the first rotating stand for the iPhone -- a two-piece kit with a baked-on black painted steel iPhone holder and a matching steel table mount -- but what could have been a nearly ideal alternative to Apple's packed-in iPhone Dock instead is an only partially useful, pricey alternative.
Certain parts of the Ped3 concept are really smart. It feels extremely solid, and enables you to suspend an iPhone above any flat surface in horizontal, vertical, or other orientations of your choice. Two mounting holes on the stand let you choose your iPhone viewing angle, while a rubber ring in each hole holds the iPhone mount in your preferred rotated position. These parts work perfectly together, positioning the iPhone in just the right position for tabletop video viewing, CoverFlow music navigation, or, when turned, main menu icon access and other applications. They in no way interfere with access to iPhone’s screen or Home button.
With the iPhone mounted as shown in the top photo here, you also can access its top and side buttons, headphone port, and Dock Connector port. You can plug in Apple’s USB cable for charging and synchronization; Thought Out separately sells a generic 3-foot extension cable for an additional $4, which unfortunately doesn’t match the stand, Apple’s cable, or the iPhone. You can also attach any pair of headphones if you want to listen to the iPhone, and use any of the controls and features, even the camera. Everything works just as you’d expect.
Except, unfortunately, for the bottom speaker and microphone. Thought Out didn’t fully think through its bottom-of-iPhone mounting solution, because the rubber-coated metal grips of the iPhone holder we tested almost completely cover both that bottom speaker and the microphone. You can still get audio in and out of them, but it’s muted relative to the normal, unimpeded performance you get when hand-holding the iPhone or docking it in Apple’s Dock. Callers reported that our voices sounded muffled and distant when we called with Ped3 on the iPhone, and audio output from the speaker was cut roughly in half. Flipping the iPhone around inside the mount is unwise: this just puts continuous pressure on the Sleep/Wake button and covers the headphone port, instead. Surely, there’s a smarter way to hold the iPhone than this.
While the version of Ped3 we tested was not specifically designed for use with the iPod touch, as shown in the photos here, it does safely hold the iPod in place unless it’s turned upside down. After we received our review unit, Thought Out released a separate version of Ped3 made specifically for the iPod touch, notably using a different clip arrangement that might have improved the iPhone holder; it’s not shown in photos since we haven’t had a chance to test it. We wish that the company had come up with a universal version for both devices, and used a smarter, less intrusive holding system; simply repositioning the bottom grips could fix the speaker and microphone interference with iPhone; other tweaks could let both the iPhone and iPod touch work in the same holder.
To its credit, the iPhone version of Ped3 still lets you hear enough through the speaker that you’ll do OK for video viewing if there’s not a lot of ambient noise in the background of your room, and the mounting feature is totally acceptable if you’re willing to use headphones, as you might by necessity if you’re on a plane or some other place where iPhone’s bottom speaker can’t be used. But given the $40 asking price, and the device’s obvious appeal as a desktop stand, we would have expected that it would provide unencumbered access to all of iPhone’s features, particularly the speaker-based ones we use most often at our desks; you can get a case with an integrated video stand for far less. As-is, this is a fine iPhone stand, but it could have been better.