Review: Thought Out PED4 Planet IPM10 Pivoting Stand for iPad mini
For years, Thought Out's Apple device stands followed consistent themes: they were unusually heavy, not-quite matches for Apple's design aesthetics, and somewhat expensive. But they weren't bad, and justified their somewhat expensive prices by using atypically substantial materials and American manufacturing facilities. Last month, Thought Out broke with some of its traditions by releasing PED4 Planet BH50, a substantially plastic and relatively affordable stand for the iPhone 5; this month, it released PED4 Planet IPM10 ($70), an iPad mini version that jumps in price and improves on one of BH50's key issues.
Just like PED4 Planet BH50, the new IPM10 consists of two main pieces: a glossy plastic base designed to sit on a desk, and a matching plastic Apple device holder permanently attached to a stainless steel rod. Here, the footprint of the three-lobed base is between 7” to 7.5” at its widest points, moderate surface area for any iPad stand to occupy, while a metal screw sits in the center. You attach the iPad mini holder’s stainless steel rod to this screw with an included hard plastic cap that’s no problem to twist into place with a hand; Thought Out separately sells a pricey and frankly unnecessary wrench and headphone cable accessory as an option if you want to tighten the connection further.
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 mini holder and rod directly to the tripod. Carried over from BH50, this feature may be useful for people intending to use the mini for photography or videography, and continues to make sense here thanks to the iPad mini’s good cameras. 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 mini’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 the iPad 2-3” above the surface of a table, depending on its orientation.
Thought Out has considerably changed the functionality of the device holder in IPM10. While the iPhone 5 version wasn’t adjustable, limiting its ability to accommodate different device sizes and cases, IPM10 has six finger-like grips, each with a screw in the back and a rubber pad on the front. The grips expand outwards by roughly 0.3” each, adding around a half inch of give beyond a bare iPad mini’s footprint. One of two included hexagonal wrenches can be used to tighten the grips in your choice of positions, collectively providing enough tension to hold an encased iPad mini face downwards even when the stand is being shaken—or keep the grips in any looser position you might prefer. Sort of like a six-fingered 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. One of the six screws in our review unit didn’t tighten completely, but generally held its position anyway, and the rest of the screws did just fine.
The two biggest issues with PED4 Planet IPM10 are its device specificity and its price. Most of the iPad stands we’ve tested over the past several years are model-agnostic, but this one is decidedly specific to the iPad mini, for better and worse. Because of that specificity, it can grip the current-generation mini and adjust to virtually any case that might expand its size, but the holder doesn’t have much room to shrink in the event that Apple redesigns its smallest iPad a year or two from now; the grips only tighten slightly inside the present model’s edges. It’s also quite expensive by iPad stand standards, particularly given its predominantly plastic construction; truly great iPad stands made substantially from metal can be had for $30 and up.
Taken as a whole, PED4 Planet IPM10 is a good option for iPad mini users, but held back from a higher rating by issues that Thought Out has encountered time and time again—competitive pricing and design inefficiencies. There’s no question that it has some serious advantages over rivals, such as considerable adjustability and case compatibility, plus the ability to be used with a camera tripod should you desire it. However, this isn’t the smallest, most attractive, or best-priced iPad stand out there, factors that will limit its appeal to mainstream customers. Overall, IPM10 represents a step in the right direction for both Thought Out and the PED family of stands, and we look forward to seeing what Thought Out does with future generations of its products.