Review: Twelve South HoverBar 3 for iPad
Once again, Twelve South is back with a sequel to an earlier product. This time, it's HoverBar 3 ($100); we previously covered HoverBar for iPad 2. It's the same concept as before, although this time, the mounting bar is compatible with every iPad except for the first-generation model thanks to three different clips. Twelve South also now includes a stand it calls Sidekick, which can prop up a tablet in landscape or portrait orientation. With these added features, the price has jumped $20.
Inside HoverBar 3’s box are 13 distinct pieces, although they don’t all get used at once. The core of the system is the clamp and gooseneck system. Those two pieces screw together—a silicone pad is included to help you tighten them by hand— with perpendicular joints based on whether you’re attaching to a horizontal surface such as a desk, or a vertical one, including an iMac’s leg. The metal arm is 22 inches long, and highly positionable without being loose. We found that it took some muscle to put it where we wanted it, but once we did, it stayed in place, not sinking when the iPad was attached. The clamp must be tightened using the included hex wrench, and can fit around any surface up to one inch thick.
As mentioned, three different iPad clips are included in the set. One is for the iPad Air, one is for second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPads, and the last fits both iPad minis. They’re very similar to the plastic holder from before, fitting around the bottom corners of the tablet and clipping onto the top right in the center; there are holes for the microphones. A 1.5” circular plastic clip connector snaps onto the back of the clip you’re using, and fits onto the ball joint at the end of the mount. Then you simply use the matching collar to screw it into place for a secure hold. Your iPad can be used in landscape or portrait orientation. Unfortunately, the setup still precludes the use of any sort of case with the system, although you can use a Smart Cover. Four clips are included for cable management.
The truly new piece of this solution is the Sidekick stand. It can be used when you unscrew the clip from the gooseneck, and remove the clip connector, but leave the clip on the iPad. The plastic stand fits onto the same mount as the clip connector, with a rubber non-slip base resting on your desk or table. It can rotate all the way around, clicking into place every 18 degrees. It’s a bit of a hassle to switch back and forth between the modes, but we appreciate that the feature is there when it would have been easier to leave it out. To us, it’s better to have an option than not.
Any issues we had with using the previous HoverBar are simply not present with this one. It works just as expected, and that’s to say it works very well. We can imagine a number of different scenarios in which floating an iPad would be useful, and we really like the idea of having it next to an iMac’s screen. There are only two real issues: case compatibility, and price. Both are important factors that detract from the overall appeal, but don’t totally derail it. They result in a B- rating, our limited recommendation. This is a good system, but it’s a costly one, and we don’t like that it requires a case-free iPad.