When an accessory maker decides to shift a traditionally metal accessory to plastic, it immediately gains the ability to produce something similar — maybe better, maybe worse — at a more aggressive price. So when Griffin announced Loop ($30), an iPad stand that sells for only 60% the cost of its earlier A-Frame, we understood immediately where it was going. By comparison, the similarly all-plastic iPad Recliner ($45) from LapWorks preserves a metal stand price point while using cheaper-feeling and -looking materials, impressing more in versatility while receiving demerits for its under-designed back half. We review both of these plastic stands in separate articles today.
LapWorks is a newcomer to the Apple accessory space, and its previous collections of PC and netbook add-ons go a long way towards explaining the iPad Recliner’s dicey, not exactly Jony Ive-caliber design. Rather than using the aluminum we’ve seen in most iPad stands at this price point, the iPad Recliner is made from a mix of half-black, half-silver-painted hard plastic and semi-soft rubber. The only metal part of the stand is a single screw that connects the curvy front shell to a sliding back piece that can be moved upwards or downwards as you prefer, changing the angle of the iPad from a video-friendly posture to a more keyboard-ready one—roughly the same two angles offered by Griffin’s less expensive Loop. But LapWorks’ slider also gives you the choice of any angle between them, and if you’re willing to change the back piece’s orientation, the iPad Recliner can be brought to a nearly upright position, as well.
It bears mention that the iPad Recliner achieves its versatility with very little grace. With the back piece in its better-looking position, the Recliner occupies roughly 9 inches of depth when in video mode or 13 inches of depth when the iPad’s at full keyboard-like recline—more space than any of the stands we’ve tested to date, and frankly, a huge waste of table surface given that other stands have achieved both angles with sub-6-inch footprints. Griffin’s cheaper Loop achieves those two positions without ever growing from a depth of only 7.7 inches, and looks a lot better, besides. iPad Recliner’s silver paint doesn’t wrap around the otherwise black plastic shell, and had small chips in its body soon after we put it into use.
Additionally, unlike virtually every Apple accessory we’ve reviewed over the past nine years, the iPad Recliner has an unfinished back that looks as if it was pulled straight from a factory mold without any attempt to glam or even just smooth out its rough edges. Though there’s no need for a stand to look beautiful from the back, it goes without saying that products developed to match Apple’s tend to show greater attention to detail—and care—than this one. LapWorks doesn’t even include space at the bottom of this stand for a Dock Connector cable to attach to an upright iPad; you’ll need to flip the iPad upside down and run the cable from its top, instead.
While a company might be able to get away with some of these sorts of design omissions at a really low price, the iPad Recliner’s $45 MSRP puts it in the same class as all-metal iPad stands we’ve reviewed. That LapWorks currently offers it for $35 merely means that it can be bought for the same price online as a Griffin A-Frame from some third-party vendors; it would need to sell for $20 or less before we’d call it worth considering. As-is, iPad Recliner is a functional and adequate stand, but inelegant, cheap-feeling and visually incomplete—the definition of an “okay” option rather than one we’d actively recommend. If you have enough money and taste to buy an iPad, you’ll probably want something better than this to hold it.
Company and Price
Company: LapWorks Inc.
Model: iPad Recliner
Compatible: iPad (2010)