Working with electronics in various portable configurations is very flexible. It’s what enables many of our flexible work situations, and feeds our gadget lust. Sometimes, however, you get to a location where there just isn’t a good place to lay out your gear in any semblance of an order that will enhance your task at hand. Other times, you have so many different pieces of gear to use that there’s no way to reach anything, if you don’t have some sort of stacking system. Enter the Crane Hardware company, and their Crane Stand Pro.This unit is not some cheap, light, make-do piece of kit. It’s aluminum, welded at joints, and designed for a life on the road being made to bend to it’s owner’s will in many different situations. And in the testing I was able to do, it behaves like a champ.
What it is
The stand is a simple idea: a base, a riser, and a shelf, connected by pivoting joints that can be locked into place at virtually any angle. The reality takes this simple idea and puts in quite a few enhancements. Rubber o-rings at every point the pivot bar could touch a surface, both for grip and for protection of the surfaces involved. Rubber grippy caps on every exposed metal arm. A simple friction lock that can be operated with one hand by anyone with minimal strength. Thoughtful design of the tray’s lip (put there to keep your tech from sliding off!) enables the Crane Stand Pro to fold down much flatter than if you had to take the lip into account. And making the folder stand a solid, locked unit means you have it with you in places you’d need it, because it’s not that hard to pack it along. Heck, they even provide you with a little nylon drawstring bag to put it in for travel or storage.
While this could be a stand that you use on your desk as a permanent feature, where it truly shines is in holding your gear in position when you’re traveling. If you use any type of outboard hardware in addition to your main laptop or tablet, this stand will allow you to have it hover above your work, ever ready and steady. DJs, musicians, and lighting pros all have need for a laptop in addition to their various control boards. They are the perfect audience for this stand, but, if you have several traveling workstations, projectors, or just tablets and handhelds, you’ll possibly benefit from giving a Crane Stand a try as well. AV departments could use one for setting up those temporary rigs that use many devices in odd assortments. Even if you’re only needing an impromptu podium for standing at a table with your laptop/iPad at a good height for reference, it’s quite able to fill the bill.
(True story: When it arrived, I pulled it out of the box and played with it for a few minutes before the Lovely Bride had dinner ready. She walked over to the table and asked about “that monstrosity” I was looking at. “Who would buy such a thing?” was her question. After eating, we decided to do some crosswords on my iPad. I reached over and whipped the Crane into position in about 10 seconds and adjusted it precisely to avoid reflections from the overhead lights. We went through several puzzles, swiping and tapping away without having any issues with the iPad sliding around or being difficult to see. After a while, she looked over and sheepishly said, “This is really nice. I could see having this around to use for my laptop.”)
I pulled some random gear out of my system and set about testing the various angles I could lock the stand into. The friction locks, I found, were very tight, but at some angles, especially very acute ones, the weight of my MacBook Pro was too much for it to hold up. Frustrated, I started experimenting, and found that the silver knurled grips at the ends opposite the pipe clamps could be tightened when the clamp was released, increasing the tension of the lock and reducing slippage to zero. This means you can loosen things up for lighter gear, and your weaker road hands could tear down and set up with ease, but moving up to heavier gear is only a matter of a twist to the knob, and you’ll be able to lock the stand in place and put almost any weight on it. (Well, not just any weight, but as much as you’d be tempted to while working under it on other gear! The company website shows a child in diapers sitting on a stand. Don’t know that I’d recommend that use case…)
While this unit is heavy-duty (and at two pounds 13 ounces, very heavy), it is amazingly graceful in looks, like the water fowl that is it’s namesake. The Crane is open, and allows wiring and viewing from many different angles underneath.
There is a Standard version of the Crane Stand, which has two positions (opened and closed) and uses push-button locks. I was not able to test this version, but the flexibility of the Pro version, along with the rock-solid clamping of the friction locks would steer me away from this version. At only $150, this thing is an easy choice for anyone setting up a traveling system. If you give presentations with various equipment, need to quickly set up demos or presentations or trade show areas, this should be in your kit. Five stars.