With all of the accessories available for your iPad, Kindle, Nook, TouchPad, Xoom, or other tablets, it isn’t surprising that there are some great accessories and some not so good ones on the market. Knowing which ones to consider for your own use can be a challenge at best, so I am always excited to review an accessory and share my thoughts on the ultimate question “Should I buy this accessory, or not?”.
Today’s review is for an accessory that I must admit that I was skeptical about, The Stump Stand, available for $24.95 from The Stump Store. Why was I skeptical you ask? I am skeptical by nature and when a company delivers an accessory for the tablet market I think to myself “here comes another accessory that I don’t need, but would love to have.” Usually, after buying an accessory for my tablet, an iPad 2, and using it for a few weeks, I am onto a new one – having forgotten about the last one that I have purchased with great intentions and expectations. If you could see my accessory graveyard I think that you would understand – it is littered with accessories that I only used for a few weeks or a month and then forgot about, or worse yet, I bought the accessory only to find that it did not deliver as promised. The Stump Stand is advertised by its creator as “The portable stand for your iPad” and after using the stand for the past week I have to admit that they did a good job creating a very functional and useful accessory.
The Stump Stand is one of the accessories that will not be finding its way into my accessory graveyard – it delivers where other accessories have failed. It isn’t glamorous, nor does it need to be. The Stump Stand unobtrusively sits on my desk, or by my bedside and holds my iPad 2 up for me to use and does so with aplomb. It isn’t supposed to be flashy or sparkly to distract me from my work, it is supposed to be a desk accessory that provides functionality for my iPad 2, holding it upright and making it instantly available while I work. I was surprised to find that I think the Stump Stand is cute and functional in a way that I think many other accessory vendors should consider taking note of as they build their accessories. It feels simple, yet I know a good deal of thought went into designing and manufacturing the product. The most simple products usually require the most thought to ensure that the initial idea is conveyed without additional layers of complexity. One of the well thought out and simple yet useful design elements of the Stump Stand is a rounded cut out that makes selecting the Home button of the iPad 2 simple when in the vertical position. The Stump Stand comes in a rainbow of colors and can even be customized with your company’s logo should you want to give them away to promote your company.
The Stump Stand will support any tablet or mobile phone with a width of less than .5 inches. This is perfect for my iPad 2 as I can leave the cover on and it fits snuggly and securely in the Stump Stand. The Stump Stand has .5″ notch cut into it with two different positions shaped into the notch on the accessory allowing for two different upright positions of my iPad 2. As well, the Stump Stand has an angled flat surface with a design that I am assuming increasing adhesion so my tablet does not slide off. In effect, there are three positions that the Stump Stand provides:
1) Vertical with a slight angle
2) Vertical with a more aggressive angle – this is my favorite so far at my desk as it is just the right angle for me to utilize my iPad 2, and
3) Horizontal angled, or as the creator of the Stump Stand calls it, a “Ramp Position” as it resembles a ramp
When reviewing an accessory for the iPad or other tablet, I first considered the Apple provided accessories. With the Stump stand it is easy to compare it with the $30 synthetic or $40 leather cover that everyone who has an iPad 2 has purchased. It is sleek and functional as a cover, but in my experience the “stand” part of the cover could use some major reworking as the magnetic folding stand, while an engineering marvel, does not deliver in the real-world. All too often falls off, leaving the iPad 2 flat on the desk, or on my bedside. The Stump Stand delivers as advertised and is a welcome addition to support my iPad 2 on my desk.
The Stump Stand has a solid feel to it, and on the packaging the vendor challenges the market to “TOUCH ME” which is a clear message that the accessory is different. It is soft to the touch, yet sturdy, made from a dense rubber compound. Weighing in at 8.5 ounces the Stump Stand is sturdy on my desk, or any other flat surface that I put it on. The Stump Stand holds my iPad 2 securely at the proper angle so I can easily access all of my Apps and information without having to move from my position, where I am also accessing a couple of laptop computers. I could see the Stump Stand team adding an adventurer’s version of the Stump Stand based on the sand infused holders that have become a mainstay of the in-car GPS market. This way the Stump Stand could work on non-flat surfaces as well as flat surfaces.
Back to the packaging for a moment – in my opinion, it is innovative – combining a cardboard backer with a notch cut out of it so it can be hung on a retailer’s display with a second notch cut out of both sides to support a rubber band that holds the product in place. The cardboard backer is a combination advertisement and holding spot for the Stump Stand. A custom imprinted rubber band holds the Stump Stand to the backer securely. I can imagine seeing an end-cap in a retail outlet, such as Fry’s or Best Buy with a rainbow of Stump Stands to attract the consumer. Again, the simplest of designs usually require the most thought to execute and the team at Stump Stand delivered. Maybe the team should design packaging as well as tablet accessories?
I am not sure I would consider the Stump Stand a portable product that I would take on trips, as it adds a good deal of weight to my already heavy bag. I would like to see a Stump Stand Mini for travel that cuts the weight down considerably as the iPad 2 cover is not very good for travel. As stated before, the iPad 2 cover does not work as promised – great ideas and engineering, but poor execution, as the magnets are not strong enough to prevent my iPad 2 from toppling over, or it could just be that I am not very delicate when the plane is jumping up and down during turbulence. I am going to take the Stump Stand on my next trip and see how it fares on the airplane and let you know.
I only had one other concern, besides the travel applicability of the accessory; when using the Stump Stand with my iPad 2 it was challenging to use it in the vertical orientation with the power connector attached as the Stump Stand does not have the depth necessary to support the iPad 2 with its power connector in place without turning it upside down, putting the Home button at the top of the iPad 2. This is not a major inconvenience for me as I usually use my iPad 2 in the horizontal orientation, but it would be nice to be able to should I want to do so.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Stump Stand for those that are looking for a great way to hold their tablet on their desk, bedside, or any other place they need to easily access their iPad 2.
Update: September 28, 2011 – I took the Stump Stand with me on a recent trip to Europe and used it on the airplane. It was very simple to use and I enjoyed having it on my tray to watch videos and type out a few messages. I did have one interesting experience at security with the Stump Stand, as the security screener asked me what it was as it showed up on the X-Ray while traveling through Europe. Not sure if it was the material the Stump Stand is made of, or the shape that caused the concern. As far as the concern on the weight, to be honest, I did not notice any concern, as I used a wheeled briefcase for this trip, so it was not hanging on in my shoulder bag or in a back pack.