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TUAW's Holiday Gift Guide: Standout iPad stands

Not a day had passed after the introduction of the iPad on April 3, 2010 that we began hearing about stands for the device. Let's face it; an iPad is much lighter than even a MacBook Air, but your arm can get very tired holding one for any period of time. I'm not talking about docks here, just stands to hold your iPad in one place while you use it as an ebook, a movie player, a game device, or even a computer.

Rock and roll

One of the more unique iPad stands can be used to cradle an iPad in your lap or hold one on your chest while you're in bed watching a movie. Are your kids watching playing games on your iPad in the back seat of the car? This is a great way for them to hold it in their laps. It's the PropUp stand, which can be purchased for $24.99 from the PropUp store.

The PropUp is made out of a Nerf-like material, so you can be forgiven if you feel like tossing the PropUp at somebody when the iPad isn't sitting in it. Your iPad simply snugs into the PropUp, and t

hen the bulgy bottom is used to hold the iPad at any comfortable angle. I think the PropUp might float, but I wouldn't recommend using it as an iPad float in your pool.

The Kiosk

If you're looking for an iPad stand that would be useful in use cases where your iPad is being used as a point of sale terminal or a museum kiosk, the Thought Out Stabile stand (US$59.99 or $69.99) is perfect.

It will hold your iPad rock-steady on a desktop or counter, weighing in at nearly 4 pounds and gripping your device in a set of padded arms. And let's face it -- with an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard nearby, an iPad even looks like a mini iOS-powered iMac.

Artistic Utility

Many of the bloggers at TUAW have a serious love affair with the products of Twelve South. The firm designs and builds accessories for Apple devices only, and the products show the love and care of true Apple fanboys.

When the Compass stand came through the TUAW review queue, all of us on the blogging staff fell in love with it. It's a well-designed, lightweight, and just plain beautiful iPad stand. If there's one iPad stand to take on the road with you, it's the Twelve South Compass. Beauty and high quality don't have to be expensive -- the Compass retails for $39.99.

A Standout Stand for the Home

The Compass isn't the only iPad stand designed by Twelve South. They also make one that's designed to be useful in your home or office. While less portable than the Compass, the BookArc for iPad is just as nice looking. The $29.99 BookArc works well holding your iPad in place in either landscape or portrait orientation, and is perfect for using your iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard as a laptop replacement.

By the way, if you have a MacBook and external monitor, check out the BookArc for iPad's big brother -- the $49.99 BookArc. It looks just like the iPad version, only larger, and it holds a closed MacBook in place and out of the way when you're using it as a desktop computer.

Compact and Capable

When I asked the rest of the team for their stand recommendations, Mike R. made special mention of the Belkin FlipBlade. It's a $30 item that conveniently folds flat for transport, then flips out with a simple latch release to support the iPad in portrait or landscape mode.

Mike notes that it's ideal for quickly setting up a kiosk on the road or doing ad-hoc presentations -- since it's so small when folded, it fits neatly into a bag or pocket.

Luxury

If price doesn't matter, there's another beautifully engineered iPad stand that you might want to consider as a gift. The Element Cases Joule is a gorgeous machined aluminum cylinder with a let that pops out to keep the stand from rolling. At $129 for the base model and $159 for the Satin Nickel model with color accents, you'll be spending a pretty penny on a Joule. For travel, there's also a $14.99 zipper case accessory for the Joule cases.

Dirt Cheap

Sometimes you don't want to spend three figures to buy an iPad stand. You just want to buy an inexpensive stand that will hold the iPad in a "locked and upright position" while you work with it.

That's where repurposing comes into play. Office supply giant Fellowes makes a wire book / catalog stand called the Model 10024 Wire Study Stand that can be found at many office stores or online at amazon.com.

Since it's made of wire and wide open on all sides, the Study Stand makes it easy to plug in your docking cable to charge or sync your iPad. It's also quite light, so you can drop it into a bag with your iPad and take it anywhere

How much will you pay for this stand? Usually right around $6. That's right -- six measly bucks gets you a sturdy stand that holds the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode. At that price, you can buy a bunch and give 'em to the iPad owners in your life as stocking stuffers.

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