Solid design, quality construction makes for impressive product (July 2nd, 2013)
Product Manufacturer: Cooler Master
- Pleasing, minimalist design
- A bit heavy
-Arm is a bit stiff
The thing about accessories for the iPad is that, in terms of design, they need to approach Apple's inimitable aesthetic in order to be a reasonable complement to the tablet. When it comes to iPad stands, that can be a bit difficult, because what can one really do in terms of a stand that makes for interesting design but doesn't sacrifice functionality. That is the issue facing CoolerMaster's Cube stand, an issue we explore in our full review of the accessory.
When it comes to the Cube, "understated" is an understatement with regard to its design. The iPad stand -- which, to be fair, can also work with probably any other tablet -- is minimalist in its aesthetic in a way that makes it most similar to Apple's iPhone 4S or the similarly spare iPad mini.
The Cube is built from high-quality aluminum with anti-scratch, non-slip rubber accents that protect the tablet at the points where it contacts the stand. To the eye, these are rather pleasing in their construction. The stand's form is similarly a blend of hard angles and soft curves. The overall effect is rather pleasing, with a very simple look that complements its simple functionality.
In hand, the Cube is solid, and reassuringly so. Set the stand down on a table and there is a reassuring thunk that lets you know it's not going to fall over easily. The rubber accents are as soft as the aluminum is hard, and there's no worry of potentially scratching one's tablet when setting it on the Cube.
The Cube's main feature is an adjustable arm that the iPad rests on. The arm adjusts from 0 to 135 degrees, providing a range of viewing angles. Cooler Master says that the device also provides a range of "typing angles," but we couldn't really see the utility in putting the device on a stand to type.
That adjustable arm is reassuringly stiff, which -- combined with the weight of the stand -- means one's iPad won't slip out of place any time soon and the stand won't tip over. That stiffness, though, also means that opening and adjusting the arm is a bit more effort than we'd like in an iPad accessory. This effort is a small sacrifice to make, though, for the stability the stand provides.
A secondary feature is the adjustable base of the device. The front of the base is composed of two rubber holders that slide apart to provide access to the home button, additional support in landscape mode, and access to the 30-pin or Lightning ports in portrait mode. These are easy to slide open, and the underside of the stand has a slight groove where the connector cord can go.
In theory, that port access should work quite well, but in practice it was a bit wonky. We had to tweak the angle of the arm and iPad in order to get an iPad mini with Lightning connector attached to sit as comfortably in the holder as it did with no connector. Assuming one has a connector that, say, stays with the Cube on one's desk, this shouldn't be too much of a problem, but it could prove somewhat annoying if one takes the Cube to multiple different places.
Speaking of portability, Cooler Master touts the Cube as having a compact travel design making it easy to take along with one. At 6.3x4.5x0.9 inches, the stand is indeed quite compact. As to actual portability, we were a bit less convinced. The accessory weighs just about a pound and a half, meaning it's the sort of thing one will notice in a purse or backpack, and especially so if that purse or backpack previously only contained, say, an iPad mini with a Smart Cover. This is no massive complaint, but we believe the stand would likely be better suited as a stationary solution on one's desk rather than taking up space and adding weight in one's bag.
Summing up, we were quite pleased with the form of the Cube. Cooler Master's stand is not the most beautiful iPad accessory we've seen, but it has an elegance to its design that makes it a more than capable complement for any iPad. Likewise, we were impressed with its function and build quality. At $40 on Cooler Master's site, the Cube is about the price of Apple's Smart Cover -- which, to be honest, can do much of the same work in a much more portable package. The flexibility of the Cube, though, along with its solid construction mean that anyone picking it up in order to have a permanent stand solution for their desk will not be disappointed to have it.