Crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo let inventors appeal directly to the public for funds. They’ve made a lot of entrepreneurial dreams come true.
If you’re inspired by the inventor’s pitch video, you send some money. It’s not an investment; you’re not rewarded if the invention becomes a hit. But you do get some memento — a T-shirt or a discounted version of the invention once it’s manufactured — and the rosy glow of knowing that you helped bring a cool idea to life.
Until now, there’s been only one problem: You had no way of knowing if the invention was actually any good. You had to trust the inventor’s video.
That’s the beauty of our Kickstarter reviews. We actually test the prototype, find out how much promise it has and help you decide if the thing is worth funding or buying.
Today’s invention: Imagine Stand, a desktop- or wall-mounted iPad stand.
The claim: This anodized aluminum stand matches the iPad’s sleek good looks. It’s easy to adjust but very sturdy. The key selling point: By adjusting two quick-release levers, you can suspend the iPad in space at any angle, height or position — to read, to consult recipes or instructions, to view it hands-free while you’re eating, and so on.
Goal: This Kickstarter project seeks $90,000 in backing by January 16.
Status: At this writing, it’s raised less than $2,000. If the inventor reaches his $90,000 goal, he’ll begin manufacturing these stands this spring, with the hope of shipping them to customers in May.
What I tested: The inventor sent me a near-final unit. A few tweaks remain — tightening and polishing — but the prototype was eminently usable as is.
What I learned: The Imagine Stand’s base is surprisingly heavy. The only thing that could tip this over is a Saint Bernard on a squirrel quest.
(Besides, if Saint Bernards are your problem, you can mount this stand on the wall instead, thanks to two holes on the bottom of the base.)
Your tablet snaps easily and securely into a clear plastic frame at the top of the “stalk.”
Different iPad models have different dimensions, of course, so you specify which frame you want when you order the stand. You can replace the frame if you someday get a different iPad model.
There are two levers; picture the quick-release levers on a bike wheel as designed by Steve Jobs. The one at the base locks the angle of the stalk. The one at the top locks in the iPad’s angle. These levers are reassuringly well-made, quick to tighten or loosen, and very secure in their grip.
The point here, of course, is freedom of positioning. Just by adjusting these two levers, you can move, raise, position or angle the iPad in nearly infinite ways. You can tilt the tablet to any angle on the stalk; rotate it 90 degrees; change the stalk’s angle to adjust the iPad’s height and distance from you; and pivot the stalk around so that, for example, the iPad is now facing your audience. (Those last two adjustments don’t require fiddling with the levers.)
So, yes, the stand is everything the inventor claims. There are just two questions left. First, hasn’t someone thought of this before?
There are dozens of iPad stands available. A quick search on Amazon makes that clear:
Yet, incredibly, I couldn’t find a single one that offers as much range of positioning as the Imagine Stand. Some don’t adjust at all; some tilt but don’t let you adjust the height or pivot; some require you to adjust each corner of the frame as you insert or remove the tablet; some permit full ranges of positioning, but they’re floor stands.
Most are just ugly.
The second question: Why isn’t the Imagine Stand doing better in its crowdsourcing campaign?
Maybe not many people think they need an iPad stand.
I can imagine a few scenarios where it’d be useful, though. As a kiosk. As a point-of-sale cash-register deal. Or you could put the stand on your bedside table so that the iPad is an ebook screen hovering above your tummy in bed.
You could use it as a way to watch videos or read as you eat, without risking getting marinara sauce in your Home button. You could conduct video chats hands-free, so that you could move around, play the piano, demonstrate dance moves, hold up the baby, or whatever.
The bottom line: A stand isn’t for everyone, but somebody is buying all those stands on Amazon. Maybe they don’t realize that a more attractive, more universally adjustable option is available (or, rather, might be available in May). Or maybe $70 is just too steep a price for beauty.
But we all benefit from choice — and, so far, nobody else has made a really elegant stand that adjusts quickly in any dimension. Fund this.