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Element Case Joule iPad stand
While not the most versatile iPad stand on the market, Element's Joule is in a class by itself when it comes to construction and unique design. Available in brushed silver ($129), anodized satin silver ($139), or anodized black ($139) finishes, the Joule consists of two pieces: a cylindrical body machined from a solid block of aluminum, and a matching, machined-aluminum rod that acts as the stand's support.
The cylinder, approximately 1.5 inches in diameter, is substantial, weighing in at nearly 11.5 ounces. A 0.75-inch-deep groove, the perfect thickness for a bare iPad and lined with soft microfiber, runs the length of the cylinder. The front of this groove has a nicely beveled cutout that provides access to the iPad's Home button when the device is seated vertically; to the right and just below is an opening to channel audio from the iPad's speaker toward the front of the stand.
On the back of the cylinder are three precisely drilled holes for the Joule's support rod. The stand's angle depends on which hole you use: the bottom one positions your iPad at a slight angle of approximately 20 degrees from vertical; the middle hole provides an angle of about 45 degrees; and the top hole leans the iPad back nearly 60 degrees. Each hole has a small magnet at the bottom that, together with a counterpart at the end of the support rod, keeps the rod firmly in place. Rubber pads on the bottom of the cylinder and around the end of the rod keep the Joule from sliding (and from scratching the surface it sits on).
When it comes to securely holding your iPad, the Joule rates among the most stable stands I've used, despite its small size. In horizontal orientation, your (bare) iPad simply doesn't move when in the Joule—even when typing firmly on the onscreen keyboard. In vertical orientation, you do get a bit of flex when pushing on the top of the screen, but the amount of movement is minimal compared to most other stands.
The Joule is also perhaps the most attractive iPad stand we've seen so far. Though some will balk at the Joule's relatively high price, the materials, craftsmanship, and finishes are outstanding. And despite the Joule's heft and stability, it's among the smallest iPad stands on the market, which, combined with its attractive design, makes the Joule look great even when empty—something that can't be said for most other stands. You can also have Element, for a charge, engrave text or a graphic on the front of the anodized silver or anodized black model.
The Joule's biggest flaw—and for many people, it will be a deciding factor—is its lack of versatility: The stand won't accommodate an iPad inside a case, and if you want to sync or charge your iPad while it's in the stand, you must position the iPad either horizontally, with a USB dock-connector cable sticking out to either side, or upside-down, with the cable sticking out the top. Then again, I suppose that someone who values design and craftsmanship enough to be willing to pay $129 or more for the Joule is likely also the type who won't be hiding the iPad inside a case.
Element Case Joule iPad stand
Element's Joule is a rock-solid stand with standout design and craftsmanship. However, such quality doesn't come cheap, and the Joule lacks versatility compared to many other stands.