I've reviewed lots of iPad stands that are useful on a desk. For example, I really like the Stabile PRO that I reviewed a year ago, and I use it on my desk in my office every single day. And of course, many iPad covers have the ability to also work as a stand, such as Apple's Smart Cover. But if you are in bed, or if you are sitting in a big comfy chair or on a couch in your living room, those stands are uneven, unsteady and will fall over. The tablift from nbryte is new kind of iPad stand that uses four strong but flexible legs so that you can adjust your iPad in just about any position. The company sent me a free unit to test out, and I've been using it at home for the last few weeks. It has worked really well for me.
The center of the tablift has three grooves, which lets you choose among three different angles for your iPad. In this picture taken from the side, my iPad is in the middle groove:
The center also has an elastic strap with a clip at the end. Place the clip around your iPad, and the strap will hold the iPad steady in place — even if you choose an angle that has the iPad leaning forward, the best angle if you are lying down in bed with your head on your pillow. The elastic band stretches enough that you can use your iPad in landscape or portrait mode. The groves are generous enough, and the band is flexible enough, that the manufacturer says that you can use the tablift with any model of iPad, full-size or mini, or just about any other tablet from another manufacturer. Having said that, the tablift is unlikely to work when the iPad is in just about any case.
Coming off of the center of the tablift are four flexible legs, each of which has a soft rubber foot. Because you can bend the legs into any position, the stand works well on lots of different surfaces. Each leg extends about 14 inches from the base.
For many folks, the main value of the tablift will be that it gives you a way to lie on your back in bed and look at the iPad screen without having to hold up the iPad with your hand — something that makes your arm hurt after just a few minutes. For this function, the tablift worked really, really well. I have to admit that I felt a little silly when I first set up the tablift, positioning the four legs around my body in bed. It sort of felt like I was positioning a big metal spider around me. But I got used to it after a few minutes, and then once I started to watch a video on my iPad, I quickly found myself ignoring the legs and just paying attention to the screen. I recently started watching the AMC show The Walking Dead, and I watched several episodes of Season 2 on my iPad in bed using the tablift. The experience was great. (As for the wisdom of watching a show about scary zombies immediately before going to bed, I'll let you decide if that is right for you.) Rather than make you look at a picture of myself in bed, here is a picture from the tablift website of a woman enjoying the product:
Note that this model is somewhat propped up in her bed with the iPad in the middle position, but you can put also the iPad in the front position so that it leans down, which works best when your head is on your pillow.
If you are sitting on a sofa, the tablift also provides a nice stand for the iPad. And the four legs keep your iPad steady even on an uneven, cushy surface like a sofa. It does make the iPad sit close to your lap, which can be useful depending upon your position on the sofa, and works well for typing.
I found that I preferred to use the tablift in my living room when sitting in a big, comfy chair with arms. I could spread out the four legs so that they were supported by the chair's arms, and that placed the iPad height closer to my face. It was nice to be able to read email, annotate a deposition, review and highlight documents, etc. from the comfort of that chair without having to worry about my arm getting tired holding up my iPad for a long time.
Although the tablift itself can seem somewhat large — and indeed, being able to stretch out the 14" legs so far makes the iPad stable and is one of the best parts of the product — fortunately you can fold up the legs to make the tablift only about 6" tall by 11" wide by 4" deep, which makes it small enough to easily slide under or next to your bed or tuck it away in some corner. You could probably even fit it in a suitcase if you wanted to travel with it; perhaps stuff some socks in the center of the tablift to make the most efficient use of space.
Finally, note that you could use the tablift on a table if you want to do so, although it is large enough that you need a decent amount of space. I wouldn't use it regularly on my desk at work, but I found that I was able to place my iPad at the perfect height on a table at home for a FaceTime videochat when the iPad was in the tablift.
If you want to use your iPad while lying down in bed or while sitting in your living room, I don't know of any stand that works as well as the tablift. It does a fantastic job holding your iPad in position, it folds up for storage, and it is versatile enough that it can work with many different size iPads (and thus, is also likely to continue to work with future generations of iPads). You'll have to decide whether that convenience is worth $60 to you, but the tablift works as advertised, and does so quite well.
UPDATE 8/6/2014: Apparently, a lot of you bought a tablift from Amazon because Amazon is now out of stock. But you can always order one directly from the manufacturer by clicking here.
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