Originally launched as a Kickstarter project, the Flote iPad stand aims to take you handsfree when browsing, watching, or chatting. Flote isn’t another small desktop style-stand; its heavy, weighted base keeps it firmly in place on the floor, while its adjustable arm lets you place your iPad anywhere from four to seven feet off the ground.
It also features 3+ degrees of freedom for perfectly positioning your iPad (more on that number in a minute). The Flote m2 provides a unique and stylishly adept solution to handsfree iPad use.
The key to the Flote’s utility is its universal grip. A simple thumb slider on the back lets you open the spring-loaded four-fingered “cradle,” which then clamps down to hold your iPad, iPad mini, or other tablet device securely. The cradle has rubber pads inside to keep your iPad firmly in place, and once inside, the Flote’s ingenious series of hinges, joints, and counterweights provide a stable hold virtually anywhere. The swivels and pivots provide almost an entire sphere of positioning options, whether you need the iPad pointing toward the sky, down at the floor, or anywhere in between.
The easiest way to visualize this is really to see it in action:
There are really four main components of the Flote m2. The base features a vertical pole that can swivel 360º, which makes it easy to move the iPad over/away from a bed, couch, or table for use. Atop that pole is a tension screw that lets you adjust the horizontal boom (or iPad-holding arm) through a full 180º, and then lock it to hold that angle. This boom arm features a counterweight, which provides flexibility in positioning, and telescopes to provides over 12 inches of additional length.
The iPad cradle itself is the really ingenious part of the Flote. Out back there’s a thumb shelf, which you use to open the cradle wide enough to fit your iPad in. Once secured, the magnetic ball joint that connects the cradle to the boom arm lets you spin your iPad through another 360º (useful for switching from portrait to landscape), as well as pivoting in any direction nearly 360º. This means you can point your iPad up, down, to either side, or diagonally to ensure it points exactly where you need it to.
When I first unpacked the Flote, I had trouble envisioning how it could be useful apart from occasionally bumming on the couch/in bed with my iPad. But after using it for a while, I found a number of uses that help justify the Flote’s price tag; the longer I spent with the Flote the more ideas sprang to mind. During my review period, I used the Flote:
- As a FaceTime aide, to position my iPad so the front camera faced me and the back camera faced a place at the table. This let me easily demonstrate a cooking technique and switch back to the traditional video calling without having to reposition the iPad each time. Speaking of the kitchen…
- To free up counter space. I use my iPad as a recipe book, and was able to position the Flote just outside the kitchen with the iPad levitating over the counter.
- To stay warmly snuggled under a blanket while watching mandatory training videos on my iPad. Sure, I could have gone and bought a Snuggie, but the Flote’s powder-coated silver finish matches my home office furniture perfectly!
As I considered other uses for a Flote, I couldn’t help thinking it would be perfect as a kiosk or point-of-sale system, where the ability to swivel the screen for multiple users would be an asset. Much like Apple’s design for the original flat-panel iMac, the Flote and its desktop version offer an easy way to pass an iPad back and forth virtually handsfree. The magnetic ball joint ensures each user can adjust the iPad to their preferred height, whether they’re using it to swipe a credit card, sign a receipt, or just get information.
Pricing and Conclusion
Flote has positioned the m2 as a premium product, and its $300 price tag reflects that status. The key is to realize this isn’t so much an iPad accessory as it is a piece of furniture—with a total height of almost 7 feet when fully extended, this isn’t the kind of small item you can toss in a bag like most iDevice accessories. The anodized silver finish is obviously and unashamedly modern, but is neutral enough to blend in with almost any decor. The universal cradle is small enough to fit an iPad Mini, but can expand enough to fit an iPad Air.
In several weeks of testing, I found the Flote to be an excellent addition to my iPad, whether I needed to do something that required both of my hands or wanted to use my iPad without holding it for an extended period (like reading). During that period I only found one design gripe, which is the set of exposed screw heads on the inside of the cradle. Although they don’t touch your iPad directly, they can scrape against it when adjusting the cradle, and metal on metal isn’t good for an uncovered iPad.
Buy the Flote M2 iPad floor stand
Provides: Free-standing handsfree iPad/tablet holder
Minimum Requirements: iPad, iPad mini