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Thought Out Stabile
Thought Out unabashedly advertises the Stabile iPad stand, available in black or silver, as "4 Pounds of Stable Solid Steel," and while our test units actually weighed closer to 3.5 pounds, the Stabile is indeed the heaviest stand we've yet tested. Manufactured in the U.S. from a single piece of solid steel, the Stabile looks more like a piece of industrial art than an accessory for your iPad. Yet accessory it is: The Stabile's four metal "arms," the bottom two curved to create a cradle effect, hold an iPad about 3.6 inches off your desk and at an angle of approximately 35 degrees from vertical. While you can't adjust the stand's height or angle, the Stabile' fixed position is generally a good one for viewing and interacting with the screen and for using an external keyboard at your desk.
The large base of the Stabile—just under 9 inches at the widest and 7 inches at the deepest—is where most of the stand's weight is located. This wide base and low center of gravity combine with non-slip pads at the end of each arm to provide an exceptionally stable perch, whether your iPad is positioned in landscape or portrait orientation. Even forceful jabs at the iPad's screen result in only a slight wobble, so the stand is more than steady enough for using most apps and for occasional onscreen typing. The bottom of the Stabile sports four non-slip feet to keep the stand from sliding, and the lower (cradle) arms are positioned such that they can accommodate an iPad in even a bulky case.
The Stabile's elevated, four-arm design means it's easy to connect pretty much any type of cable—USB dock-connector, audio, or other—to your iPad while it's in the stand. A large groove in the back of the stand helps keep your cables handy.
I did experience a couple issues with the Stabile's design. The first is that whenever I removed my iPad from the black version of the stand, the non-slip pads for the lower (cradle) arms would eventually detach from the metal—the adhesive apparently isn't strong enough to keep the pads securely attached to the curved, rough surface. This isn't a problem when the iPad is sitting in the stand, as the weight of the iPad keeps the pads in place, but I did have to check the pads each time I used the Stabile to be sure the stand's metal surfaces weren't going to scratch my iPad. (I didn't experience this issue with the silver stand, which has a smoother, more-adhesive-friendly finish.)
The second issue is that if you center your iPad on the Stabile in landscape orientation, with the iPad's volume buttons on the bottom, the Stabile's lower-right arm is perfectly aligned with the iPad's Volume Down button. The result, thanks to the iPad's weight, is that the arm mutes the iPad. This can be avoided by being sure to position the iPad with the volume buttons on the top but, as with the non-slip pads, it's something you'll need to be aware of when you use the stand. (If your iPad is in a case, you're unlikely to experience this issue, as the case will likely prevent the Stabile's arm from pressing the button.)
Thanks to the Stabile's weight and size, this isn't a stand you'll throw in your bag for portable use, but it is, as its name suggests, quite stable. In fact, if stability is your primary concern, and you've got the room on your desk, the Stabile is tough to beat. On the other hand, that stability comes with the price of limited versatility compared to some other stands, and you do need to be cautious when placing your iPad in the stand due to the minor issues mentioned above. Trying to decide between silver and black? I'm partial to the silver—it matches the iPad (and Apple's other current products) better and it seems to have less of a problem with the adhesive on its protective pads.
Thought Out Stabile
Thanks to its weight and size, the Stabile is, as its name suggests, exceptionally stable. But it's also less versatile than some competing products.