Designed to enable exercise machine users to enjoy their iPads without fear, Scosche’s fitRail ($50) is a portable steel mounting system with a soft carrying case that can be brought to the gym, attached to a stationary bike or treadmill computer panel, and used to hold an iPad in place until you’re ready to leave. It can also be used as a typing or viewing stand on a flat surface. Gym-goers will be particularly well-served by the unique design, but if you’re not planning on using it with an exercise machine, there are other options worth considering.
fitRail attaches to the iPad at three points: a hard plastic rail holds its landscape-orientation bottom, several sticky pads grip its back, and an elastic and rubber claw latches onto the top. We found the grips to be quite secure. There’s no support for the tablet in portrait, but that’s not an issue for watching video and most other tasks; most iPad applications work just fine in landscape mode. The frame slides up and down to make transporting it easier, and it’s about five inches tall and seven wide when fully collapsed. Case compatibility is limited to only thin shells, which may be an issue for some users.
Once the iPad is in place, passive rails—metal covered with hard rubber—hook onto the equipment’s computer or rail, and six rubber feet help to hold the frame against the machine. Because the hooks pivot from a flat position to a little past 90 degrees, they can be adjusted to fit pretty much any setup. In our testing, we found fitRail’s grip on a bike computer to be secure, although a particularly vigorous workout routine could be enough to dislodge the holder from certain bikes or treadmills. Since there are so many different styles of machines from so many manufacturers, this design is about as good as it can be without having a spring-loaded clamping system. Some users might not like that the iPad covers the exercise machine’s computer during a workout, but this is an expected limitation of the accessory, and it’s not particularly difficult to lift the tablet up as needed. The additional table stand positions are a pretty nice bonus: we would’ve preferred a lower typing angle and a slightly deeper viewing position, but they work well enough as extra features.
It’s not for everybody, but fitRail is a pretty good solution for those looking to pass the time with an iPad at the gym. The design is attractive and functional, using materials that provide a solid feel and help justify the price. One way Scosche could improve the usability would be to use clamping systems instead of the passive holders; hopefully a future version will add this feature. As is, however, fitRail is a smart gym accessory and worthy of our general recommendation.
Company and Price
Compatible: All iPads