capsule review

Twelve South BookArc for iPad

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At a Glance
  • Twelve South BookArc for iPad

The simplest and least expensive of the metal iPad stands we've tested, Twelve South's BookArc for iPad—based on the company's similar stand for Apple laptops—is an attractive and thoughtfully designed product. However, like Griffin Technology's A-Frame, the BookArc is hindered by limited viewing angles.

The BookArc for iPad is made from a single piece of heavy-gauge steel, fashioned into a graceful arc with gentle, pleasant curves carved out of the sides. The hefty stand weighs nearly a pound, but has a fairly compact footprint of approximately 7 inches (wide) by 4 inches (deep). In the middle is a narrow cutout sized to accommodate an iPad. The BookArc's four corners are each fitted with a silicone foot to keep the stand from sliding around (and to protect your furniture from scratches), and unlike the sharp edges on Griffin's A-Frame, the BookArc's machined edges are fairly smooth.

Included with the BookArc are two silicone inserts for the stand's iPad slot. The insert labeled 1P is designed to let a bare (no case) iPad fit in the stand perfectly; the insert labeled 2P offers a couple millimeters more depth—front to back—to allow for an iPad with a thin, shell-style case. An iPad in a thicker case won't fit, although Twelve South notes on the company's blog that if you don't use either insert, the BookArc's slot is deep enough to fit an iPad in Apple's iPad Case.

Your iPad fits in the BookArc's slot vertically or horizontally; the narrow design of the slot holds the iPad upright for watching video, using the iPad as a digital photo frame, typing using a Bluetooth keyboard, or performing occasional touchscreen tasks. Because of the BookArc's low (1.75 inches) profile and relatively shallow base, the stand isn't quite as stable as the other metal models we've tested—the iPad bounces a bit when tapping on the screen, and a firm jab at the top of the screen can tip the whole thing over when the iPad is oriented vertically. But for light-contact use, it's sufficiently steady.

At the front of the BookArc's slot, directly in the center, is a half-circle cutout that lets you access the iPad's Home button when the iPad is sitting vertically. Because the BookArc elevates your iPad slightly, and the stand is open underneath, you can actually charge and sync your iPad while it's sitting in the stand, even when oriented vertically: You just thread your iPad's USB dock-connector cable up through the slot, connect it to your iPad, and then lower the iPad into the stand. This aspect of the BookArc makes it more practical than Element's similarly low-profile Joule iPad stand.

(The stand's slot, when bare, does indeed accommodate an iPad in Apple's case, so long as you leave the case's front flap loose in the back, rather than trying to squeeze it in the slot along with the iPad.)

On the other hand, as with Griffin's A-Frame, the BookArc offers little in the way of viewing angles. This is understandable, given the BookArc's shallow footprint and low profile—too much lean and the iPad and stand would quickly fall over—but the fact that the stand holds your iPad at only a single position, and that position is nearly vertical, limits the BookArc's utility somewhat. When trying to use my iPad to type parts of this review using Apple's Wireless Keyboard, I kept wanting to lean the iPad back an additional 20 degrees or so to get a more-direct view. However, if you elevate the BookArc a bit—I eventually put it on a shelf on my desk—this is less of a limitation.

(There actually is one other angle available: If you place your iPad backwards in the BookArc—with the iPad's screen facing away from the stand's Home-button opening—the iPad sits completely vertical. Twelve South calls this orientation "storage mode.")

There's a lot to like about the BookArc: It's attractive, it's well-made, and it's reasonably priced for a solid-metal stand. And if your iPad is wearing a shell-style case or Apple's own case, the BookArc will even accommodate that protection—something Apple's iPad Dock and several other stands we've seen can't do. On the other hand, due to the BookArc's small footprint, it's not as stable as the other metal stands we've tested, and its single viewing angle means you should take a good look at how you'll be using your iPad to see if you'll want more viewing options.

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At a Glance
  • The BookArc is attractive, well-made, and reasonably priced for a solid-metal stand. It even accommodates an iPad in a thin case. However, its shallow footprint makes it a bit less stable than other metal stands we've tested, and it provides only a single, near-upright viewing angle.

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