Product: Native Union's Gripster
Rating: Weak Recommend
The Apple iPad is a beautifully designed device. It's sleek, it's clean, and the device feels solid in your hands. I've always found it difficult to find accessories and cases that really do it justice. With the exception of the Apple designed smart cover, I rarely use any kind of accessories with the iPad (especially third party accessories). I've bought cases, sleeves, stylus, and covers, but none ever seem to live up to my expectations in terms of function or design...
I have to admit when I first received the Gripster for review, I didn't have very high expectations. The Gripster is a snap-in case for the iPad with a rigid movable kick stand that rotates and clicks into various positions. The Gripster is plastic, and has a glossy faux aluminium finish. It's not much to look at, and at first glance I was fairly certain it would end up in with all my other unused accessories. That said, after a day of use, the Gripster has kind of grown on me.
Specs (from the box)
- Integrated handle to carry and hold your iPad
- Compatible with the new iPad and iPad 2 and the iPad Smart Cover
- Rotate 360 degrees with a combination of 8 lockable positions
- Protect your iPad from everyday use
- Position the handle at any angle; perfect for typing, reading, watching, calling and gaming on your iPad
Design: The Gripster actually serves a few different functions. The kickstand snaps into several predefined settings along the back, and can be angled from 0 to nearly 180 degrees. This lets you stand the iPad up in portrait or landscape, or angle it for typing or using flat on a desk. The kickstand also doubles as a handle, either for holding in your hand, or even if (one were so inclined) for hanging the iPad from a hook.
Design Points: Again the Gripster isn't necessarily as esthetically pleasing as I would like from something paired with my iPad, but a few key design elements make it actually quite functional. The case snaps securely to the iPad, leaving room so I can still use my smart cover at the same time. The kickstand feels robust and pretty stable, and it adjusts and snaps into place firmly. The range of the kickstand (as I mentioned before, pretty much 180 degrees at an angle and 360 degrees around) really opens up a lot of potential use cases.
In Use: I use the iPad for many things. Initially, a content consumption device; watching video, reading magazines, browsing the web. The Gripster worked great in landscape and placed on my coffee table for watching video on the couch. Switching it to landscape, I loaded up Flipboard for a quick flip through my social feeds, while I ate a bowl of cereal. I often use my smart cover in a similar way, but I must say I really enjoyed being able to prop it up an a better viewing angle, and especially in portrait.
I also use my iPad for work, sometimes for design layouts or illustration with a stylus, and often just a second monitor for my Macbook Air (via Air Display). Again I often use my smart cover in both of these cases to prop up the screen in landscape. With the Gripster, the added option of using the iPad in portrait as well as the wide range of adjustment was actually really appreciated.
As for using the Gripster as a handle (as advertised), I'll be honest...I'm never going to do that. My hands are large enough I can hold the iPad in one hand when needed, and again I'm actually a big fan of how the iPad feels when I hold it (just the way it is). I suppose can imagine a reason or two someone might use the Gripster as a handle for the iPad (perhaps doing a presentation or if they had small hands), but to be honest it just didn't feel all that practical or ergonomic.
iPad accessories are generally pretty hit or miss (mostly miss), and in some ways the Gripster is an exception. My biggest benchmark for any accessory is, does it augment the functionality of the iPad? Ideally without sacrificing the aesthetic appeal and look. The Gripster definitely brought something new to the table and I can definitely see myself using it in the future. That said, the design could use some improvement before I really feel like the Gripster is really something I wouldn't leave the house without.
Pros: I actually use my iPad in portrait a lot, and so I could see using a stand like this pretty frequently. The wide range of motion in the stand help it stand apart (pun intended) from other iPad case/stands. The case snaps firmly to the iPad and accommodates the iPad smart cover.
Cons: A handle for the iPad is in my opinion a half baked idea, and in my case the handle was not the slightest bit ergonomic for hands of my size. In general, the aesthetic design of the device could be definitely be improved, (a higher quality and less glossy material would be nice), especially when it's meant to be used with the iPad.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was purchased by reviewer for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Sean Rioux)