Striped Sail miFrame does double duty as an iPad stand and a photo frame
At a Glance
Striped Sail miFrame Picture Frame Docking Station for iPad
If you're intent on expanding the range of options for both your iPad and the stand you buy for it, the miFrame offers a unique and attractive design that serves as both an iPad stand and a photo frame....
So here's a novel concept: An iPad stand that doubles as a picture frame. That's the idea behind Striped Sail's $79 miFrame for iPad. This sturdy, rather-heavy bit of hardware is a stay-at-home iPad companion, making the best use of your tablet's downtime while keeping it charged and even synced. The miFrame is available in a silver version for the original iPad and silver or black iPad 2-specific models. I tested both the iPad and iPad 2 versions.
Crafted of premium anodized aluminum, the frame is backed by a black, polycarbonate cradle with a built-in dock connector and an attached 5-foot USB cable. The front of the miFrame includes a clear-acrylic cover designed to fit an 8- by 10-inch photograph. There are all sorts of neat little details that make this a nice-looking home or office accessory, including diamond-cut bevels and a sleek matching stand.
The miFrame measures 11.8 inches high and 9.4 inches wide in portrait orientation. The frames have either an attractive brushed-silver or pleasing black finish with silvery beveled trim that looks quite nice on a desk next to an iMac, Mac mini, or MacBook Pro. The black border around the iPad offers a striking contrast with the silver frame, and resembles a traditional photo mat. If you have a white iPad, it looks super inside the black frame. The miFrame's stand is wide and sturdy, at 5.8 inches across and a generous 6.7 inches deep—the miFrame is not going to topple over. Four rubber feet are attached to the bottom of the base to ensure a non-slip grip and to prevent damage to furniture.
When you're using the miFrame with your iPad, it functions much like every other iPad stand. You can place the iPad in landscape or portrait orientation while you swipe and tap through websites or other content. The stand is also excellent for displaying your iPad's photos or online images from Instagram, Path, Flickr, and the iCloud Photo Stream, or for using apps that display the time or weather while you're not using your iPad. Of course, you can also use it as a screen to watch videos. The frame's design makes it easy to reach the iPad's Home button and Sleep/Wake button, as well as the volume buttons.
When you remove your iPad from the miFrame, the stand isn't just an empty shell—it doubles as a real picture frame that you can use with a paper print. To insert your photo, just slide the clear-acrylic photo cover out of the black backing, insert your photo, replace the cover, and reconstruct the frame. (The photo can remain in the frame even when your iPad is in place. The photo is set back somewhat, which gives a kind of 3D effect, though depending on the light in the location, you might experience some glare or mirroring. Nevertheless, this is a clever and unique feature.
The miFrame is easy to set up—there are only a few possible configurations, so a couple minutes juggling its parts will present all the options, likely without the need to read the included instructions. Changing orientation in mid-stream is a literal snap: Just pick up the frame that holds the iPad and detach it from the base, then reposition it. You can plug the USB cord directly into your Mac for syncing and charging, or plug it into a USB power adapter for charging only.
What's not to like about the miFrame? When used in portrait orientation, the miFrame suffers from some of the same wobble problems that plague lesser stands when you tap the iPad's screen, and while the miFrame is sturdy overall, tapping or swiping your iPad too firmly occasionally makes a clinking sound, as the iPad moves slightly in the frame. You also get only a single angle of about 10 degrees from vertical—a slight backward tilt. With respect to the photo-frame feature, you can see the miFrame's dock connector from the bottom or the side when your iPad is removed, which detracts somewhat from the view of your print. Finally, while it's not a huge quibble given the miFrame's purpose, it would be nice if the USB cord were detachable. I can understand why it's attached—the last thing you need is another free-floating USB cable to misplace—but the option would still be welcome.
Macworld's buying advice
If you're intent on expanding the range of options for both your iPad and the stand you buy for it, the miFrame offers a unique and attractive design and, unlike other stands, makes itself useful even when not holding your iPad. Given that versatility and the stand's elegant appearance, the $79 price tag seems reasonable. However, as an iPad stand, it provides only a single viewing angle, and it's not a solid as some other stands when tapping and swiping the iPad's screen.