“They sent you an ashtray?” – Every single person in my family, when they saw the AluCup Grande
The fine folks at Just Mobile make a lot of cool gadget-centric stuff: styli, iPad and Phone stands, batteries for your USB gadgets, USB chargers for your vehicle’s 12 volt system – the works. A while back, they produced the AluCup, a round aluminum cup with a rubber insert and a slanted top edge, perfectly suited to hold your iPhone at an angle on your desk that allows viewing or tapping without glare from overhead lights. They have followed this phone and phablet-centric desk stand with one a bit larger, well-suited for an iPad mini or larger. Think of the round acrylic stands at Apple stores for the iPad mini, but made from aluminum, hollowed out and lined with flexible rubber. It is called the AluCup Grande, and comes in blue, red, black and yellow.
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The measurements of the Grande are 3.9 in diameter and 2 inches on the high side, sloping down to just under 1 inch. It weighs a mere 5.3 oz. The angle is about 15°, which is pretty flat. There’s a tiny little stub in the center of the rubber insert, which I first thought was a byproduct of injection molding or something. I soon realized it was actually designed to allow two angles for standing up a handheld device. When my iPhone is sitting with its base inside the AluCup and the back against the highest point, it’s a 37° angle, and when I place it behind the little center stub, the angle is 69°.
While I’m usually away from my home office desk, I do have a place to park my iPad for charging at night. Usually, this has been a modified laptop stand of some sort, or something along the lines of the Griffin A-Frame. I thought I’d give the AluCup a try, and it was OK for a while, but being flatter to the work surface, and having so much real estate hanging off the sides, it was difficult to use for more than reference, movie watching, or as a calendar. Even then, the reflection at 15° is pretty bad. If you’re a media consumer (which some short-sighted folks still think is all the iPad is good for), rather than a true 21st Century post-PC knowledge worker who composes text documents (as I am doing now), edits photos, and uploads content for sharing from an iOS device, you’re still going to be frustrated with this, but it’s manageable if your seat is high enough. It’s an OK angle for using the on-screen keyboard, but hitting those outlier keys tends to make the iPad wobble. Unless you rest the heel of a hand, or keep a free finger/thumb on the opposite side, typing on a full-screen iPad is going to be irritating. The mini is less so, but can still be an issue because of the flat angle. This, of course, is not recommended by Just Mobile, who recommend it for iPad minis, iPhones, or other devices, rather than the full-screen iPad.
There are slots milled or molded into the cup at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions, which are the perfect size to hold your cables while charging, or just to keep them from slipping off the back of your desk. You can actually wind them up inside the cup, if you want to, for cable management. Most charging cable connectors being rather large, this prevents using the cable holders when the device is in an upright position, but it’s great if you want to watch a movie or play a game and want to charge up while you’re at it.
After a week or so using this with my iPad, I transitioned to a new job where I spend much of my day seated at my desk, in front of my computer. I picked up the AluCup, removed the cords I had wound in it for my iPad, and moved it to a position for use with my iPhone and the iPod touch I use for work. Rather than keeping the phone on charge all day, I like to let the battery actually get some exercise, so I placed the iPhone upright in the cup. The positioning made the alarms for messages and mail quite audible, and reading stuff on my phone was much easier than using the stand I had previously used. The 5th gen iPod touch and my iPhone 4s (and now my 5s!) all fit in either of the three upright positions, and are quite easy to operate from there. (The 5s Touch ID can get a bit tough to engage in the highest position, but it’s workable.)
All told, I really like the AluCup Grande from Just Mobile, and will most likely continue using it on my desk. But if one more person asks if it’s an ashtray, I may throw it at them!