SwingHolder hands-free boom mount unit for iPad review

Sections: iDevice Accessories, iPad, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Reviews

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Provides: Position and display of iPad or iPad 2
Developer: Stand for Stuff
Compatibility: iPad and iPad 2
Price: $239

SwingHolder is a hinged floor boom unit that positions an iPad or iPad 2 at convenient, hands-free eye level, whether you’re  lying in bed, standing at a kitchen counter, podium or workbench, or playing musical instruments—virtually anywhere you need the iPad to be positioned at a convenient viewing elevation and angle without need of holding, or even touching it in situations where you’re doing something messy with your hands.

The Swingholder’s engineering and form factor resembles that of a microphone boom, with a weighted base, a vertical support post, and a counterweighted boom that in this application supports an iPad in a secure holder bracket over a wide range of elevations and angles as demanded by tasks and circumstances.

“The iPad is an incredibly powerful device, but few people know its true potential until their hands are taken out of the equation,” said Stand for Stuff’s founder and CEO, Marty Springer. “While the obvious advantages of hands-free use are fantastic, some of its other applications are life-altering.”

Springer says necessity led to the SwingHolder’s development. “My wife has a condition that makes it hard for her to hold things,” he explains. So to help her use her own iPad, Springer cobbled together what ultimately became the SwingHolder prototype, using some Plexiglas, a jigsaw and a microphone stand, so the final product’s resemblance to a boom mic stand is more than coincidental.

The SwingHolder floor unit stands 58″ tall, but can swing as low as five inches off the floor. With the iPad mounted securely in its rubberized-grip bracket, the SwingHolder’s 21″ arm (from the joint) rotates 360°, can pitch the iPad up or down up to 45 °, adjusts left or right up to 270°, and can be used on either the left or right side, allowing for a great deal of positioning and adjustment latitude regardless of use. The iPad bracket is mounted on a ball joint, allowing it to swivel through a wide range of angles, while the heavy counterweight at the opposite end of the swing arm ensures the device stays positioned where you want it until it’s adjusted to suit another purpose.

Potential SwingHolder uses include:

  • independent iPad use for persons with physical disabilities
  • hands-free ability to practice or perform on musical instruments while reading from digital sheet music on the iPad
  • vibration-free iPad mounting while using exercise equipment
  • as a display or point-of–sale device in retail or at trade shows if you’re in business
  • holding the iPad in dirty-hands work environments
  • knitting while reading pattern instructions on-screen
  • following iPad-stored recipes and cooking in the kitchen without smearing the display with food from fingers or risking spills or splatter
  • viewing or reading iPad content while eating or watching movies, TV shows
  • reading ebooks on the iPad while lying down without arm fatigue from holding the device
  • protecting the iPad from drops or damage while being used by children.

You can probably think of other uses.

The SwingHolder requires some assembly. Here’s a shot of what comes in the box.

However, putting it together was easy and took only a few minutes without hurrying. An included instruction pamphlet is clearly illustrated and easy-to-follow. The first step is to affix four self-adhesive felt feet to the weighted support base. The main support post then attaches to the weighted base via a positively keyed, tapered fitting secured by two Allen hex-head screws (an appropriately-sized Allen key wrench is provided). The boom counterweight snaps into the boom tube and self-locks in place. A built-in USB cable extender is provided so that the iPad can be charged or wall-powered without need of removing it from the SwingHolder bracket. The boom folds for storage, requiring less than one square foot of floor space, or in less than five minutes, the SwingHolder can be completely disassembled by removing two screws and unsnapping the counterbalance weight.

All of the components of this certified made-in-U.S.A. device appear to be high quality, with good fit and finish, and carefully engineered. The support post and boom are made from powder-coated steel tubing, while the weighted base and boom counterweight are presumably some sort of dense metal encased in tough, 50% recycled ABS plastic sheathing. The SwingHolder’s hinge joints, fittings and its iPad bracket are likewise made of this high–strength plastic.

The iPad is mounted in the Swingholder’s support bracket by means of a positively-latching swing-open door panel. You just pull the latch lever to unlock the door, slide the iPad into the bracket, then close the door, checking that the lever latches completely. It takes less time than does typing this sentence. Removal is the reverse sequence. The bracket is designed so you still have access to the iPad’s controls and its 30-pin connector port, and that both the front and rear cameras remain unobstructed when the iPad 2 is mounted in the SwingHolder, which can pinch hit as a photographic or cinematic tripod.

SwingHolder is designed to accommodate either an original iPad or the iPad 2. The latter, being thinner than the original model, is accommodated securely by way of four snap-on adapter boots on the iPad bracket frame. These come installed by default, and must be removed if you want to insert an original iPad unit. Incidentally, the iPad 3 that Apple is widely expected to unveil next month is rumored to be somewhat thicker in section than the iPad 2, but presumably thinner than the original iPad, and that the difference will be significant enough that at least snug-fitting iPad 2 cases will not work with the next generation Apple slab. Whether that turns out to be the case remains to be seen, but Marty Springer tells me he’s on the case, and that Stand for Stuff plans on making adapter boots available to accommodate the new iPad model if it turns out that they’re needed, although he thinks they might not be.

One task I found the SwingHolder is not suited for is as a typing platform. For one thing, its range of screen tilt is insufficient to provide a horizontal enough iPad screen orientation for comfortable and ergonomically sound typing. But even if it did, you still wouldn’t want to type on it, since it’s simply not a firm enough support. While you may find it tolerable for short form typing such as making quick email replies and such, for longer form typing the iPad is in constant motion even under the lightest touch, and I found it simply impossible.

However, I hasten to emphasize that SwingHolder is not advertised as a typing platform. I’m no engineer, but my guess is that the support post and boom would need to be made from a much less flexible material than relatively gauge steel tubing—steel pipe perhaps—in order to provide enough support for cantilevered typing, and that would likely be prohibitive both in terms of cost and weight. At approximately 20 pounds, the SwingHolder is aleady formidably weighty.

I should also emphasize that this is not an issue of adequate strength and ruggedness. Steel extrusions are plenty strong, despite being flexible. The SwingHolder’s base and boom counterweight are also heavy enough to be completely adequate to provide a reassuring degree of stability for the product’s intended purposes.

At $239.00 (includes shipping, and SwingHolder comes with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee), SwingHolder is not inexpensive. Domestic manufacture does impose a cost premium, which is of course why iPads are made in China. So, does SwingHolder provide value commensurate to its price? That probably depends on how useful hands-free iPad positioning will be to you. For example, if one has a physical disability that makes handheld iPad operation difficult or impossible, the SwingHolder could be a great facilitator—even, as Marty Springer says, life-altering. Likewise, if your business, work activity, or hobby involves activities that would benefit significantly from a SwingHolder mounted iPad, it could be worth every penny and more.

If it would be more in the nice-to-have discretionary category, it’s more an individual value-judgment.

As such, my formal 3A rating is price dependent. Price independent, I would rate it four out of five.

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SwingHolder Review

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