capsule review

Griffin Technology A-Frame Tabletop Stand for iPad

At a Glance
  • Griffin Technology A-Frame

    Macworld Rating

Griffin Technology's $50 A-Frame Tabletop Stand for iPad is, like several other iPad stands we've tested, made of aluminum to match the iPad itself. At nearly nine inches tall when upright and six inches wide, and weighing in at 18 ounces, this isn't a small stand, although it provides a solid base for your iPad—as long as you're OK with its limited angles.

The A-Frame consists of two main pieces: a large, rectangular piece of thick aluminum, bent into a U shape at the bottom to form a cradle for your iPad; and a narrow and shorter piece, attached by a hinge to the middle of the larger piece, that forms the stand's leg. Thick rubber lines the cradle, and rings of similar rubber circle the ends of the stand's hinge, such that when your iPad is sitting in the stand, metal never touches metal.

This rubber is especially necessary because, as nice as the aluminum looks, the stand's edges are sharp (and in some places, even a bit rough). More than once I accidentally scraped a finger or knuckle when removing my iPad from the stand. Without all this rubber, the stand would surely scratch your iPad, as well. (There are also rubber pads on the bottom of the cradle and the leg to keep the stand from sliding around and to protect your furniture.)

The A-Frame's cradle is well-designed: When your iPad is placed in the A-Frame without a case—either horizontally or vertically—the iPad fits neatly in a small groove in the rubber. The middle of this rubber cradle is cut away in the rear, allowing you to connect Apple's USB dock-connector cable to a vertical iPad—the cable and plug are hidden behind the cradle itself. A smaller cutout on the right-hand side prevents the rubber from blocking the sound from the iPad's speaker.

But the cradle is also deep enough, front to back, to accommodate an iPad in most protective cases—at least those designed to let you use the iPad while in the case. While an encased iPad won't fit in the stand quite as securely, it won't fall off on its own, either. This feature makes the A-Frame fairly unique among the current crop of stands.

You change the A-Frame's angle by adjusting its leg. However, the range of angles is a bit disappointing: with its leg fully extended, the stand offers a maximum lean of around 20 degrees from vertical. (You can position the leg for a more upright position, but then the stand isn't quite as stable when the leg isn't fully extended.) Even at the maximum angle from vertical, I found my iPad to be too upright for, say, comfortably watching video or typing on the onscreen keyboard unless I placed the stand on a shelf or other surface at approximately chest height. The capability to recline your iPad another 20 to 30 degrees would be welcome.

Despite this limited range—or perhaps because of it—the A-Frame is exceptionally stable. With the stand's leg fully extended, your iPad won't bounce, or even jiggle, whether you're tapping the screen during a game or typing using the onscreen keyboard.

If you collapse the leg completely and lay the A-Frame flat on your desk, the stand's hinge acts as a small riser, angling your iPad slightly upwards for easier onscreen typing. This low angle is a slight improvement over typing on an iPad resting flat, although, again, during my testing I wanted more angle options. I also found that when typing in this position, the A-Frame's cradle occasionally got in the way; it was especially distracting when the palms of my hands rubbed against the sharp sides of the cradle.

Given the high prices I've seen for aluminum iPad stands, the A-Frame offers a decent value. It's solidly built, exceptionally stable, and the fact that you can use it even if your iPad is inside a protective case makes the A-Frame quite versatile. If Griffin would soften the sharp edges and increase the stand's range of angles, the A-Frame would be an easy recommendation. As-is, you should make sure you're happy with its limited range of positions.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Griffin's A-Frame is rock solid, and the fact that you can use it even if your iPad is inside a protective case makes the stand quite versatile. However, its range of angles is limited, and the stand's edges are surprisingly sharp.

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