The Wallee: A complete iPad stand, mount, and case solution (Updated)
In the vast world of iPad accessories, there are few complete systems that provide a variety of ways to protect and mount your device. A new case system from Australia, The Wallee, comes with a set of sidekicks that make it one of the most versatile iPad accessories I've reviewed so far. Read on for a full look at this unique collection of items that work together to keep your iPad happily protected and mounted just about anywhere it goes.
The system starts with the Wallee iPad Case (AUD$39.95 - about US$41 as of this writing), which is a white, black, or clear shell that snaps onto the back of your iPad or iPad 2. In the middle of this shell is a rounded X-shape that is the heart of the interchangeable accessories in the Wallee system. While it might seem like the price is a little high for the case, it does include free shipping to anywhere in the world.
The case is compatible with Apple's Smart Cover, so between those two accessories your iPad 2 can be completely protected, back and front. Should you decide that you'd like more protection, there's the Glove (AUD$29.95), a 100% wool felt (totally renewable) sleeve that keeps your lovely Apple product from scratches. It looks and feels nice, too.
If you prefer something that's even more heavily padded, the Carry (AUD$39.95) is a memory foam-lined bag with a handle for carrying. It's finished in a waterproof silk fiber for durability and good looks.
Now let's start talking about the various stands and mounts. For those who would like to mount their iPad on a wall, the AUD$10 Wall Mount Disk is a minimalist ABS plastic and stainless steel solution. Use one screw to attach it to a wall, cabinet, or door, and then quickly mount the iPad in its Wallee case on that surface. Your device can be twisted between landscape and portrait orientation in moments, or removed for travel.
Have a VESA wall mount or arm that you'd like to attach the iPad to? There's a Wallee accessory for that. The AUD$14.95 VESA adapter opens the iPad to use with any of the many VESA mounts on the market.
For propping up your iPad on a desk, Wallee offers two solutions. The first is a tiny brushed aluminum kickstand called (not surprisingly) the Kick (AUD$24.95). Using the standard Wallee X-mount, it snaps onto the back of the Wallee case to hold up the iPad in a variety of positions. The Kick is light and small enough to be portable.
A mount that offers a lot more capability is the iMac-styled Pivot (AUD$59.95). It truly looks like the arm that holds up the iMac, complete with a hole for power or USB cable. As with the other accessories, it's adorned with the Wallee mount, and snapping your iPad onto the Pivot is a breeze.
The Wallee folks have three more accessories in the works that use the Wallee case: there's the Headrest, a AUD$39.95 mount that uses aluminum fittings and that Wallee X-mount to secure the iPad to a headrest for back-row viewing of movies. The next is the Hand Strap (AUD$19.95), which brings the Wallee mount to a Velcro-adjustable strap for comfortable hand-carrying of your iPad.
The final accessory that is forthcoming is the Wallee Lock (AUS$89.95), which uses the Wall Mount Disk, Wallee Case, and a special enclosure to attach your iPad securely to a surface. This would be perfect for kiosk-type applications where you'd like to keep your iPad from walking off...
For multiple uses of a single case design, there's no equal to the Wallee products. The case took some real effort to install, but I finally got it to snap in on all four corners. That being said, the case didn't stand up to repeated installations.
When I took off the case in order to take some photographs pre-and-post installation and tried to reinstall it, I had some issues getting it to snap on as it had the first time. While fiddling around with the white case, I managed to break the thin plastic piece between between the iPad 2 speaker opening and the front of the case. No problem, since Wallee had also sent a second case in black. I could never get that case to install onto the iPad, even when squeezing the corners with a death grip to try to get it to snap on.
This is a problem I've never had with the AViiQ Smart Case, which is a thin aluminum snap-on shell. I've removed and installed the AViiQ case literally hundreds of times, and it always stays put on the iPad 2.
What's the difference? The AViiQ case is made to hold flush to the back of the iPad, while the Wallee case has a small spacer in the middle to accommodate the thickness of the X-mount. The AViiQ case is also made of a much more rigid material than plastic, so it seems to hold its dimensions a lot better.
As I could not get either Wallee Case to properly hold onto my iPad 2, all of the photographs accompanying this post are done without the iPad actually being attached. My advice? If you manage to get the Wallee Case installed on your iPad, don't take it off...
The rest of the accessories are well-constructed. The Case is functional, yet attractive and thin. The Mount is a solid piece of hardware that I would have no problems installing on a kitchen wall. Both the Kick and the Pivot are solid brushed aluminum pieces that look as if they've come out of the design shop at Apple. I have no doubt that the Headrest, Hand Strap, and Wallee Lock are going to be equally well done.
The Wallee line of iPad accessories is a complete line of cases, mounts and stands for the iPad. My main concern is that the key component of the line -- the Case -- wasn't easy to install, and that a thin piece near the iPad speaker actually broke under moderate pressure as I was attempting to install it.
I'm sure that if this is a concern for Wallee users other than myself, the company will work out the issues. I'm also happy to see that the company is working not only on future products, but also partnering with other companies like Tether Tools to make the Wallee X-mount work with photographic accessories.
Update: According to a Wallee spokesperson, I was sent old case stock due to "pre-holiday shipping insanity." The case fit issues have been completely resolved, and you can purchase a Wallee with the assurance that the all-important case is going to fit your iPad or iPad 2 with no problems.
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