Flote m2 Tablet Floor Stand review

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The tablet stand is a totally new market, yet another that has sprung into being since the advent of the iPad and similar tablets in 2010. Two years ago, when you searched for iPad stand, or tablet stand, you got a few custom-built device holders, crafted in wood or acrylic, and most were more concerned with adding the tablet into a specific environment – music, point-of-sale, stand-alone store display, reading, typing, etc. Some of my favorite video podcasts spent months seeking out stands for their sets, and they always felt there was a compromise. Now, however, there are many, many stands in metal, wood, Fiberglas, and about any other imaginable substance, and many have been designed for general use, rather than being niche products. The m2 Floor Stand from Flote is one that recently crossed the threshold of the Gadgeteer Southeastern Outpost. Let’s take a detailed look, shall we?

Note: Photos in this post can be clicked or tapped for a larger version.

When it arrived (in two boxes!) I was worried that I wouldn’t have room for it in my home. Opening the packaging, I found in the heavy squarish box a silvery, smooth disc with a heavy, thick cylinder either cast or machined with the disc or welded so cleanly that I can’t find a seam, top or bottom. This piece pushes my bathroom scale toward 30 pounds. It feels like it weighs a ton, though, because it’s so flat and slick. There are five Teflon pads glued onto the bottom of the disc, and there’s a hole through the center of the cylinder that goes through the center of the disc as well. The other piece is an articulated arm assembly that has an angled post attached to a weighted crosspiece. The end of the arm is attached to the post by a piece of metal welded at two points.

Adjustment on top of post for controlling ease of movement for crossbar.

Adjustment on top of post for controlling ease of movement for crossbar.

Detail of weld on crossbar.

Detail of weld on crossbar.

That attached piece has a ring to connect it through a bolted disc atop the post, attached with a five-pronged knob for tightening. This is all assembled for you. There’s also a cradle for a tablet that is spring-loaded with two padded jaws facing each other about 7″ apart.

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Spring loaded cradle with magnetos ball joint.

Spring loaded cradle with magnetic ball joint.

Spring loaded cradle with magnetic ball joint, showing adjustment for mounting tablet.

Spring loaded cradle with magnetic ball joint, showing adjustment for mounting tablet.

There’s a ball joint bolted into this assembly, and a curved bit to allow easy opening of the jaws for attaching your tablet. (See photo above.) The post-and-arm piece slips into the center hole of the disc, and is fastened with an included Philips-head screw and washer. (This step is your only need for a tool.)

Detail of bottom of base, showing Teflon® pads and inset center screw for attaching post into unit.

Detail of bottom of base, showing Teflon® pads and inset center screw for attaching post into unit.

This is not a rigid attachment, because the post goes a little further into the socket, so that the whole post arm swivels easily, yet does not pull out, should you decide to grab the post and carry it to another room.

Working where you want is very freeing - what true the promise of tablet computing.

Working where you want is very freeing – the true promise of tablet computing.

The non-weighted end of the arm is extendable and tipped with a shiny, chrome-looking knob with a concave scooped out tip. This looked like a good place to put a screw-type ball and socket joint, so I picked up the cradle and moved the ball toward the tip of the arm. About two inches away – SNAP! – the ball slammed into the socket magnetically with a huge force! I was glad I didn’t have my iPad in it, or a finger in the line of fire. The ball swivels easily, yet can be made to stay in most positions. Once you pinch-and-capture your iPad into the rubber-cushioned case, you’ll have a post that swivels with an adjustable cross arm attached on top, and a tablet magically floating off the end of the arm.

Detail of rubber pads stuck into arms of tablet cradle.

Detail of rubber pads stuck into arms of tablet cradle.

The tablet can be placed anywhere, at any angle, and it just stays there when you let go. If you ever moved Apple’s G4 iMac screen around, it’s much the same feeling, except that screen would not adjust angles.

Floating above your keyboard, rather than attached to it, your tablet is much easier to read and type on.

Floating above your keyboard, rather than attached to it, your tablet is much easier to read and type on.

I am really in awe of what having my iPad at any angle, over any surface, in any situation around my home and office has done. I now can recline on the sofa and read blogs or Zite as easily as I used to read a magazine held over my face. I don’t worry about it falling, or about my arms getting tired. I just read. And if I happen to doze off – nothing happens. My iPad goes to sleep, and it’s hanging there, ready for me to resume reading when I wake up. I can also sit at my desk, a counter, or on the couch and type easily, with the iPad at eye level, and the keyboard where it is comfortable. This is my real love of Bluetooth keyboards, since I do this with my iMac all the time, but it’s even more pronounced with the iPad, because the screen just hovers there,  wherever I put it, easily changing angles and orientation in response to the slightest change in my posture or sitting position.

This actually took a few days of use to get accustomed to. With laptops and most keyboard tablet stands, there is the urge to get the keyboard and tablet into a laptop configuration, at a 65°-75° angle from each other, but nearly touching. Maybe it’s just a habit because most of us have been using laptops for so many years. This is the fallacy of the Surface and other “laptop-like” tablet/keyboard combinations – if the tablet and stand is nothing more than a laptop replacement, you lose the benefits of a two-piece system. With the iPad floating before your eyes, and the keyboard at correct typing height, things are much more comfortable, making you much more productive.

Tablets are taking over the world. Whether it’s children in school or at play discovering new information through learning games, presenters from the home improvement salesperson in your living room, to the passionate human rights advocate on stage at a rally, or retailers from your local coffee shop or food truck to the plumber fixing your leaky kitchen sink, tablets have infused themselves into life in 21st Century America to a degree and at a speed we’ve not seen in a while. From many reports, this is a global phenomenon, but I can only speak from personal experience. I have personally seen each of those above scenarios in the past two months. What differed in each instance was how the device was controlled while doing something else with your hands, or for sharing easily with someone else. Of the ones I have seen or used, none come closer to being a “universal” stand than the Flote. Whether the desktop model or the floor model, it can fit into and improve tablet use and ergonomics in a way unmatched by competitors.

I wrote most of this review in various places around my house, all using the Flote stand. I worked at my den/kitchen peninsula, on the deck seated in a mesh chair, and at my desk with both keyboards for iPad and for iMac trying to confuse me by being identical. (Yeah, first world problems, I know…)

So, let’s get down to brass tacks. The Flote stand is beautiful, functional, flexible, and useful. It is also expensive ($400), bulky, and difficult to move around. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth your investment, but I’m sold! Other than the ball joint slipping when using the iPad at an extreme angle a few times, it’s not let me down once. And repositioning the arm and tablet angle was a simple fix on those few occasions.

Five stars.

 

Product Information

Price:$299.99
Manufacturer:CRC Innovations LLC
Retailer:FloteYourTablet
Requirements:
  • Tablet device
Pros:
  • Infinitely adjustable
  • Stable yet easily adjustable
  • Works with virtually any tablet
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Really, really heavy
  • Quite bulky
Posted in: Android related, iPhone, iPad, iPod, Reviews, Tablets, Ultra Portables

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Andy Chen November 25, 2013, 11:45 am

    This would be PERFECT in my recording booth. I want one!

  • Dave Cutler November 25, 2013, 4:45 pm

    Hi Julie, thanks for a great and candid review of FLOTE. However FLOTE is $299.99 and not $400. You just saved $100 and didn’t even know it ;) Dave Cutler | FloteYourTablet.com

  • Julie Strietelmeier November 25, 2013, 4:59 pm

    @Dave Price fixed :) Sorry about that.

  • Jayden November 25, 2013, 8:40 pm

    OK, I must say, I *love* the looks of that.
    I can see it next to the bed too.

  • James November 27, 2013, 6:47 pm

    I see a lot of specialty stand for the iPad/iPhone that could be made out of RAM Mount parts for less money and better fit and finish. Lets make one here…

    1 Boom Mic Stand $25
    1 RAM Mount Plastic Medium Arm B-Socket RAP-B-201U $9
    1 RAM Mount Apple iPad Cradle RAM-HOL-AP8U $20
    1 On-Stage MA-125 1/4-Inch Male to 3/8-Inch Female Mic Screw Adapter $2
    1 RAM Mount Female 0.25-20 Thread on B-Ball RAM-B-348U $7
    1 RAM Mount Diamond Plate with 1 inch Ball RAP-B-238U $6

    Total = $69. The FLOTE stand looks great, but this isn’t too far from it. It is in black and much cheaper. Since it is made from standard parts you can re configure it if your needs change.

  • Dave Cutler November 27, 2013, 7:22 pm

    There are plenty of inexpensive stands in the market. And yes, you could build your own out of various parts.

    But you wouldn’t have a FLOTE, and FLOTE is all about user experience.

    Our products are not designed with a goal to be inexpensive. Rather, they are designed to be elegant, precise, balanced, secure, and a pleasure to use without compromise.

    Attaining those goals means building a premium product with a premium price point. But we believe that there are people out there who appreciate clean elegant aesthetics and thoughtful design, and are willing to support our efforts.

    So far, thankfully, we seem to be right about that belief.

  • Smythe Richbourg November 27, 2013, 9:12 pm

    James,
    Using plastic and cobbled together parts will not make a stand that will perform like this stand. Using plastic pieces, and many adjustment points will also not perform the same as the balanced floating action of this stand. I’ve used $25 boom mic stands – they are rickety and prone to losing adjustment while in use after a year or so. And you’ll probably need to retighten a few places whenever you move the stand or change positions. Not so with the Flote. I have uses it for a few weeks and can say that one rarely has to adjust it once it’s in the place you’ll be using it. I move it around for comfort, as my body wants to change positions, and it glides and stays for even some pretty major changes.

  • James Chi November 28, 2013, 4:55 am

    @Cutler The Flote looks like a quality product as I said.

  • James Chi November 28, 2013, 5:11 am

    @Smythe I think you are underestimating the build and usefulness of RAM mount parts. If you don’t like plastic parts, there are equivalent parts made of aircraft aluminum. Don’t like the cheap boom mic stand, you can use any boom mic stand in existence. Surely there is a professional weighted boom stand out there for under $200 that would meet you needs. The point is that by using more standard parts you can adjust the mount to meet your needs. Like in the above marketing photo the Flote (boom stand) takes up quite a bit of physical space around the desk, while under the iPad is totally clear. A desktop mic stand may actually take up less space than the boom stand. Want to attach your device to a metal wall? Glass? A bike? Those are all options. Need to attach a different device like your phone or laptop. You can.

  • James Chi November 28, 2013, 5:20 am

    @Cutler Looking again at the Flote, I notice the tablet mount doesn’t seem to support in portrait mode. Is there enough tension from the springs to hold it in that position? What’s to prevent the tablet from falling from the stand if hit from the side?

  • Dave Cutler November 28, 2013, 3:52 pm

    @Chi,

    The Cradle is attached to a magnetic ball joint that lets you rotate the tablet into either landscape or portrait mode, and yes, the grip created by the spring tension holds your tablet safely and securely.

    Please see this link to learn more about how FLOTE functions:
    https://www.floteyourtablet.com/About/Learn-More-about-FLOTE-hands-free-stand-for-iPad-tablets-e-readers/

  • Smythe Richbourg November 28, 2013, 4:14 pm

    @James Portrait mode is perfect. The ball magnetic holder swivels effortlessly, and the spring holds fast to any tablet. There are grip pads (see photo in review) that ensure the device does not slip.
    Re: your mention of desktop use, there is a desktop model, as also mentioned in the review. There is either a smaller disc, similar to the floor stand, or a clamp for securing to the edge of a desk or counter.
    Although I almost always take my iPad biking, I can’t think of a scenario where I’d want to mount it to my handlebars. My phone, sure, but the iPad (even if it was a mini) is larger than what I’d want there. Distractions abound when you have that much screen real estate, and biking requires even more attention to the road ahead than driving does, in my opinion. Cars don’t have wrecks when hitting a walnut or loose gravel, or even a squirrel, but bikes do every day!

  • Diane January 12, 2014, 11:25 am

    I’ve hunted and hunted and here, at last, found the fine machine I’d like to buy as a birthday gift for my boyfriend. His birthday is three weeks from now. From what I can tell by searching around, my “fine machine” is out of stock. So, what can you tell me?

  • Julie Strietelmeier January 12, 2014, 12:05 pm

    @Diane you need to contact Flote. We don’t sell products on this site.

  • Dave Cutler January 12, 2014, 12:16 pm

    Hi @Diane,

    You might be looking at inventory for the original FLOTE on Amazon perhaps? Don’t worry- we have stock in of both the refined FLOTE m2 floor stand and FLOTE Desktop at our website FloteYourTablet.com (and Amazon too).

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