Review: Thought Out PED4 Planet IPA10 for iPad Air
When we reviewed Thought Out's PED4 Planet IPM10 iPad mini stand last year, we expected that the prolific developer would be releasing iterative sequels, and it has: multiple "Coil," "Planet," and "Mount" versions for iPads and iPhones have since debuted, each with different applications. Now it has debuted PED4 Planet IPA10 ($85), an iPad Air version of IPM10 that's identical but larger and surprisingly more expensive. Due to the similarity between models, this IPA10 review is substantially based on the IPM10 review, noting differences where appropriate.
Once again, IPA10 consists of two main pieces: a glossy plastic base designed to sit on a desk, and a matching plastic Apple device holder that’s permanently attached to a stainless steel rod. For IPA10, the footprint of the three-lobed base is between 8” to 8.6” at its widest points, quite a bit of surface area for an iPad Air stand, while a metal screw sits in the center. You attach the iPad Air holder’s stainless steel rod to this screw with an included hard plastic cap that’s no problem to twist into place by hand.
One thing differentiates the PED4 Planet designs from any other stand we’ve tested: if you have a camera tripod, you can skip using the included plastic base, instead attaching the iPad holder and rod directly to the tripod — a feature useful for photography or videography. Thought Out’s iPad holder has a tightly grasped ball joint in the back, enabling you to have complete three-axis freedom of movement for the iPad Air’s viewing angle, as well as four divots that hold the tablet flat on your choice of landscape or portrait 90-degree angles. When locked in one of those positions, the holder and rod combination keep an upright iPad roughly 1.5” to 2.5” above the surface of a table, depending on its orientation. You’re also able to adjust viewing angles to an impressive degree, as the ball joint holds the iPad Air’s position stably enough for light touch input.
Thought Out has kept the device holder basically the same from IPM10 to IPA10. Shaped somewhat like a crab, the holder has six finger-like grips, each with a hexagonal screw in the back and a glossy rubber pad on the edge. The grips expand outwards by roughly 0.3” each, adding around a half inch of give beyond a bare iPad Air’s footprint. One of two included and somewhat inexpensive-feeling hexagonal wrenches can be used to tighten the grips in your choice of positions, collectively providing enough tension to hold an encased iPad Air face downwards even when the stand is being shaken—or keep the grips in any looser position you might prefer. Sort of like a hand grasping the iPad from the back, these grips aren’t beautiful-looking, and their rubber tips could have been integrated more elegantly into a plastic holder, but everything works mostly as it should.
This time, we didn’t have any issues with the adjustment screws feeling loose, instead finding each of them to be unsettlingly tight — so tight that the included plastic-tipped hex wrench began to come apart during the adjustment process. The stand itself is solid, but the wrenches could really use some work.
The two biggest issues with PED4 Planet IPA10 are its size and price. On one hand, IPA10 has enough adjustability to accommodate bare or encased iPad Airs, as well as the prior-generation full-sized iPad, though not the iPad mini. Unfortunately, the footprint it requires is — like earlier Thought Out stands — pretty substantial, and if its glossy plastic base doesn’t arrive covered in dust as ours did, it will quickly gather some during regular use. It’s also even more expensive than its $70 predecessor, which as we noted before was already pushing the upper limits of iPad stand pricing. Although IPA10 is substantially made from plastic with metal elements, truly great iPad stands made almost entirely from metal can be had for $30 and up, so the $85 asking price here is hard to justify.
If price wasn’t an issue, we would have no problem calling PED4 Planet IPA10 a good choice for iPad Air users, but $85 is a lot for an iPad Air stand — particularly one that isn’t near-perfectly executed in all regards. Consequently, it merits only our limited recommendation. While we appreciate its considerable adjustability, case compatibility, and ability to work with tripods, it’s a big and not especially beautiful stand that will appeal to a select niche, but probably not to the mainstream masses. Assuming that price is no object to you, and that you’re looking for something with angle and iPad device size flexibility, consider it a viable option so long as you have a backup hex wrench set around.