capsule review

Joby GorillaMobile Ori for iPad

At a Glance
  • Joby GorillaMobile Ori for iPad

Joby’s GorillaMobile Ori for iPad is a combination of a case and a stand that's designed to more or less stay on your iPad full-time. The Ori—inspired by origami, the Japanese art of the fold—offers a variety of "foldable" positions for its $80 price tag.

Billed as an ergonomic accessory, and constructed of lightweight aluminum-composite material, the Ori snugly supports the first-generation iPad in several different positions, from the tallest configuration (called "Popcorn And A Movie") to several horizontal setups (called Sous Chef, Page Turner, and Another Day At The Office). When closed, a micro-fiber screen cover protects the iPad's glass.

Though it's possible to grasp the high concept of the Ori's fold routines without the included documentation, it's a good idea to have a look at the enclosed diagrams and flip through the illustrated manual. These familiarize you with the Ori's various components—cover flap, tab holes, kickstand, and screen cover—and how to accomplish each of the Ori's four major positions. When folded up into its folio-like travel configuration, the Ori's cover flap clicks into place. Regardless of the position, all the components lock securely.

In the folio position, the Ori acts as a protective case, and it securely grips the back and sides of your iPad—opening the cover makes the screen accessible. Each part of the case is cut to precisely fit the first-generation iPad, leaving just enough room for access to the iPad's Sleep/Wake button, volume buttons, and mute/orientation-lock switch, as well as its headphone jack, dock-connector port, and speaker. You never have to remove the iPad from the case, and the cover’s micro-fiber padding prevents scratches to the iPad’s front.

In most positions, you can quickly swivel between landscape and portrait orientation. However, when the base is flat, as in Page Turner and Another Day At The Office, you’ll have to adjust the back in order to switch to portrait orientation to keep the bottom of the iPad from hitting the table. Happily, you can easily pivot the iPad's orientation to any position.

I found that unless I specifically used the Ori's small kickstand piece to anchor the iPad, even slight taps, not to mention any sort of typing, caused the screen to move with an annoying wobble. With this piece anchoring the screen, however, the screen is much more stable. Granted, the movie watching position is not designed for a lot of tapping and typing, but the other positions invite, at the least, some navigation between Web pages, if not regular screen interaction.

Though designed for the road warrior, at a full pound the Ori isn't the lightest stand we've seen. It’s not the smallest either—closed, it measures 9.8 inches wide (from the top of the iPad to the bottom), 7.8 inches deep (across the iPad), and 0.9 inches thick.

While many iPad stands are billed as ergonomic, that generally means that the stand itself elevates the tablet enough to prevent you from straining your eyes or neck to use it for various purposes. The Ori does fit that description, with the top of the iPad approximately 14 inches off your desk. However, manipulating the unit took more muscle than I would have liked. While everything is precision built, I sometimes struggled to release the kickstand, remove the iPad from the case, and engage or disengage the back of the stand in its various positions. And while the unit is protective, its weight doesn't offer much stability except when in the lowest position with the kickstand engaged to support the iPad for onscreen typing.

The Joby GorillaMobile Ori for iPad has its appeal. If you don’t mind adding its pound of weight to your commute, it gives you four viewing positions with infinite permutations; lets you easily rotate the screen; and provides a good, protective cover for the original iPad. However, it's a bit bulky, it's sometimes hard to manipulate, and some of its positions aren't as stable as I’d like for tapping and swiping my way through a document or Website. For $80, I'd like something a bit easier to use and more convenient.

(Joby plans to release, in June 2011, a new version of the Ori for the iPad 2.)

At a Glance
  • The origami-inspired GorillaMobile Ori offers a variety of stand positions as well as protection for your iPad while on the go. However, it's a bit bulky and difficult to manipulate, and it's not as stable as other metal stands we've tested.

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