As with any new gadget the initial device is only half the story, as soon as the wrapping is off you’re on the prowl for those nice little additions that will make your purchase feel right at home.
I had already ordered the Apple case and charging dock at the same time as the iPad so I didn’t expect to be heading out quite so soon for more “office warming gifts” to help my iPad settle in.
The problems with the Apple iPad dock were evident immediately. First, it was not designed to be used with an iPad in an Apple case so the case needs to be removed every time it’s used. There is an alternative already adopted by many and that is to modify the case, making the cut out area around the dock connector bigger. I wasn’t prepared to do that and even if I had been it wouldn’t have addressed the other issues I had with the dock.
My second issue was that even having taken the iPad out of it’s case, and that’s no mean feat as it’s a very snug fit, to seat it correctly in the dock, attempting to type on it was not a good experience. The whole iPad moves as you type on it, not dangerously so but enough to make trying to type on it annoying.
Last but by no means least was the fact that the dock does not allow the iPad to be displayed/held in landscape mode. Since it plays videos beautifully I anticipated using the iPad in landscape mode frequently. Although not specially designed for landscape display the iPhone dock will safely hold the phone in that orientation and I’d anticipated being able to use the iPad dock in a similar way.
There are plenty of images out there showing the iPad in landscape mode using nothing more than the Apple case but after trying this I came to the conclusion that it was far from secure enough for my new toy.
So armed with a set of very specific requirements I was in the market for a new stand. It needed to:
- Hold the iPad securely in portrait mode
- Hold the iPad securely in landscape mode
- Allow the iPad to be charged
- Let me type on the virtual keyboard without the iPad rocking
- Not take up an excessive amount of desk space
- Be portable
- Look half decent!
The Stabile is hardly portable at 4lbs and it also needs a lot of valuable desktop space.
As for the Luxa2 H4, call me shallow but I couldn’t get past the “pegs” that hold the iPad in place, in fact after a while the “pegs” were all I could see.
That left the Book Arc which looked like it ticked all the boxes. Only problem seemed to be nowhere had any in stock yet.
Roll on Saturday morning and an emergency trip to the Apple Store was needed (no REALLY needed … honest!) so while there I of course perused what the accessories section had to offer. Surprisingly they had the Book Arc in stock and the staff were more than obliging in permitting an unboxing to test it out. That was when I realized I needed to add another requirement to the list – I really wanted to be able to use it without taking the Apple case off the iPad.
The Book Arc is really nothing more than an arc of metal with a large slot cut out. The cut out is edged with a grey latex insert, the function of which is to protect the iPad from damage. There are actually two of these latex inserts in the box. The first is used when the iPad is case-less and the second had a wider gap to allow it to be used without the need to remove the iPad’s case before use.
Since I had my iPad with me I was able to test this.
Without the case it worked well, there is a cut out to allow access to the home button and the viewing angle can be adjusted albeit only very slightly. It was very neat, completely portable and allows the iPad to be charged in both orientations. It looks beautiful and feels like Apple themselves have made it.
It wasn’t perfect though, the angle it held the device at made it difficult to type on and when you did there was too much movement in the iPad.
Changing the latex insert I tried it with the iPad in it’s case and things got worse. While the insert might work perfectly well with a skin type of case it clearly wasn’t made with the Apple case in mind. It would just about fit into the gap but it was too tight for comfort and seemed to force the iPad to lean forward.
I was disappointed but luckily while I was considering what other options there were my eye caught something from Griffin and it’s perfect.
It’s a Griffin A-Frame, best described as a small copy holder for your iPad. It’s 100% solid to type on in both portrait and landscape modes. The viewing angle adjusts more than you’d imagine by moving the leg at the back.
The stand is substantial but not so heavy to not be portable. It has integrated rubber feet which hold it in position and a rubber shelf that the iPad sits on. It also has rubber back supports that ensure case-less iPads are held securely without damage. There’s integrated cable management via the leg at the back.
The A-Frame is equally usable when the iPad is in the Apple case holding it comfortably in place with the front flap folded in behind the iPad or dangling over the back.
Amazingly it didn’t end there though. The Griffin A-Frame had some extra benefits I hadn’t included in my original list of requirements.
It can be folded to lie flat which raises the iPad just enough to create a comfortable typing angle, it folds flat for travel and holds the iPhone in portrait mode which is great for TV/video watching.
Surprisingly it even allows the Apple dock to be attached to the iPad whilst using the A-Frame. It you think that sounds like something you’d never need to do think again! Attaching the dock in that way allows the Camera Connection Kit to be used while the iPad is held in the A-Frame
It was £39.95 in the Apple Store which was £5 more expensive than the Book Arc, priced at £34.94. Prices at various online stores were considerably lower at £29.95 but they had none in stock.
Don’t you love it when you find the perfect peripheral and you’re not forced in to a compromise of some sort 🙂
Update on Tuesday, 1 June 2010 at 17:00
I need to clarify that when I said “… holds the iPhone in portrait mode which is great for TV/video watching.” I really did mean the iPhone! While the gap in the A-Frame plinth is too wide to hold the iPhone in portrait mode it does hold it in landscape. So yes I really was referring to the iPhone 😉
Also thought I’d add a few more photos for those folks who have asked what the iPad looks like on the A-Frame inside the Apple Case.