While there’s not a lot that needs to be said about Belkin’s FlipBlade ($30), a small folding stand for the iPad and iPad 2, one word comes to mind immediately: great. FlipBlade was announced in late 2010 and got somewhat lost in a tidal wave of new iPad stands from large and small manufacturers alike, but now that we’ve had a chance to take a good look at it, we’re thrilled to be able to highly recommend it — Belkin has managed to come up with a design that feels substantial, looks really nice, packs up easily for travel, and sells for the right price.
When you purchase FlipBlade, all that’s in the box is a doorstop-sized combination of silver aluminum and blue-gray plastic—somewhat understated and simple by comparison with some of the portable iPad stands we’ve tested. The single most novel feature of FlipBlade is a spring-loaded mechanism that enables the accessory to gently open itself when a clasp is released, revealing a rubberized surface where either version of the iPad can sit. Seeing the stand open itself turns out to be as pleasing the fiftieth time as it was at first discovery: the pacing, feel, and smoothness of the motion is really something to behold. Closing the stand is as simple as pushing the metal surface back into the plastic shell that serves as a base and half case for the aluminum iPad holder; a click lets you know that the clasp is re-engaged.
It’s no great surprise that FlipBlade works exactly as expected to hold an iPad or iPad 2: both just work, and there’s enough space in the padded metal holder to accommodate tablets inside or outside of cases without an issue. There are only two minor issues: first, there’s no place for a Dock Connector cable to pass through if the iPad or iPad 2 is mounted in normal portrait orientation, so if you need to recharge, you’ll want to turn the tablet on its side. Second, you have no control over viewing angle: FlipBlade is a little steeper than the standard Apple Dock recline, and thus great for video viewing and acceptable for FaceTime; the best competing portable stands we’ve seen tend to offer greater control in this regard.
On the other hand, those stands are almost invariably more expensive than FlipBlade, and ones that are peer-priced lack for both the metal and the impressive design Belkin includes here. While FlipBlade isn’t perfect, it’s as cool of a $30 stand as we’ve yet seen for the iPad or iPad 2, and the convenience factor of having something small that folds up and down so effortlessly makes up for its lack of adjustability. It’s worthy of our high recommendation, and of your serious consideration if a simple but elegant portable stand is on your wish list.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPad, iPad 2