Looking for a suitable object or surface on which to prop up my iPad has become something of habit of mine. The new iPad has almost totally replaced my MacBook for practically all most home computing needs and many of my work computing tasks. Its simple slender design, without the fuss of a laptop's clamshell case or the bulk of a desktop's frame makes for a more intimate (especially when creating content) and much more zen-like experience.
However, there are times when the intimacy of the iPad turns out to be a weakness. Having to constantly hold the iPad with one, and sometimes both hands, can, in some situations, suck much joy from the experience. This is certainly true when consuming media - watching movies, reading books, listening to music, etc., but, as we shall see, it's also the case for many creative endeavours.
Hardware and design
Standzfree arrived flat-packed ready for self assembly. Essentially, it consists of just three components. The base, a sturdy V-shaped metal plate about 5mm thick. The neck, a flexlible metal tube. The head, a ball and socket joint connected to a plastic iPad frame. The materials used are of a high quality. The painted black metal base and neck seem extremely tough, even after two months of daily use there is not a single scratch, dent or ding to be seen. Though the plastic frame seems somewhat less robust, my initial fears have turned out to be completely unfounded, Standzfree is built to last.
Setup and general use
Using the tools provided with the kit, I had Standzfree fully assembled in less than 10 minutes. As I was planning to test Standzfree with an iPad 2 and the new iPad, I had to apply the three foam spacers to the centre of the frame and the two corners.
Fitting the iPad into the frame is simple. You push two corners of the iPad into the two corners of the frame, you then simply push the iPad into the frame and wait for the satisfying snap as the clip on the opposite end of the frame pops into place. It's a simple yet effective way of holding the iPad in place without obscuring any ports, switches, cameras or the speaker.
Adjusting the neck and head of Standzfree is effortless. You achieve the height and general position that you require by bending the neck. Out of necessity, the neck is quite stiff, but at no time did I ever feel that it was too rigid. Fine tuning the angle and rotation of the iPad (it can be rotated through a full 360°) is accomplished with the ball and socket joint. It's entirely possible to tighten the ball and socket joint to the extent that the iPad will stay in any position under its own weight, but still remain free enough to reposition with only a minimal force.
During the last two months I've used Standzfree to great effect. With the iPad held in Standzfree, watching TV and movies is a complete joy. Whilst sat on a couch, Standzfree enabled me to position the iPad at the perfect height for movie watching. It also, of course, left me free to flick through a magazine or do some work on my MacBook without any hinderance.
One scenario where Standzfree truly comes into its own is reading in bed. Like most people, I enjoy reading my favourite book or newspaper whilst being fully relaxed and comfortable. Reading in bed on the iPad with the aid of the Standzfree is just the most relaxing reading experience I've found, you really have to try it for yourself to appreciate it! Lazy Sunday mornings are now complete.
Video calling via FaceTime or Skype is also greatly enhanced with Standzfree. It's possible to position the iPad at the perfect height and distance from those engaging in the video call. It really does make for a much more satisfying video calling experience than holding the iPad in your hand or propping it up on a nearby desk. If you spend quite a bit of time video calling, Standzfree could be your perfect accessory.
Another unexpected use for Standzfree was as a speaker stand of sorts. The iPad comes with a huge range of music playback options and a good, but small, internal speaker. With Standzfree I was easily able to position the iPad in any room of the house and at a height that gave the small iPad speaker the best chance at filling the room.
As you can probably tell by now, I'm quite taken with the Standzfree floor stand. Head back here tomorrow for part two of this review, where I'll be exploring some of the more creative uses for Standzfree and offering my concluding thoughts.
Further reading: Part 2 of our Standzfree review