Review: Bretford Mobile Pro Desk Mount Combo for Mac and Thunderbolt Display
The Mobile Pro Desk Mount Combo (US$239.95) is part of a range of monitor mounts from Bretford, specifically designed to compliment the iMac (with built-in VESA adapter) and the Thunderbolt Display. The range comprises the Mobile Pro Wall Mount, the Mobile Pro Desk Mount and the top-tier Mobile Pro Desk Mount Combo, supporting dual displays or one display and a stand for a Macbook Air or MacBook Pro, or even an iPad.
The Mobile Pro Combo is designed to give you the ultimate in dual display flexibility, ergonimics and movement (an iMac and Thunderbolt Display or Thunderbolt Display attached to a MacBook Air or Pro). Both arms, attached to the central support pole, provide up to 12 inches of vertical and horizontal movement and depth. This means you can adjust your displays to the perfect height and angle as well as being able to pull and push the display to and away from you. Finally, the arm mounts allow you to rotate your display 360 degrees, so you can use your display in portrait positioning, too.
All this flexibility, whilst supporting the weight of your precious Apple gear, means the Mobile Pro Combo needs to be incredibly strong, durable and sturdy, not to mention being securely affixed to a solid surface.
I've not used a desk mount before, so this was new territory for me. When the Mount Pro Combo arrived I was relieved to find just how weighty and solid it is.
I'm the first to admit I'm not a DIY'er, so thankfully the installation was relatively straight forward. The Mobile Pro Combo comes with clear instructions (which are also digitally available on Bretford's website) and all the necessary tools for assembly. However, before purchasing the Mobile Pro Combo there are two important things you need to be aware of regarding installation.
Firstly, the Mobile Pro Combo will require you drill holes into your desk / work surface to securely attach the central support pole. If you're not prepared to do this (I don't even own a drill), there's a desk clamp that's sold separately from Bretford, which will support the central pole with up to 14 Kgs weight on each arm. Proper installation, whether you're drilling or using the clamp, requires your desk be 0.5 to 1.25 inches thick and, of course, secured to a sturdy base. Since I don't own a drill, I requested the desk clamp.
Secondly, if you're using an iMac model that predates 2012 (without the VESA Mount Adapter built-in) or a Thunderbolt Display, you'll need to purchase Apple's VESA Mount Adapter Kit ($39). This was something I hadn't realized, so I had to take a trip to the Apple Store to pick up the VESA kit for my Thunderbolt Display.
Bearing the above in mind, setting up the Mobile Pro Combo was really straight forward. The desk clamp attached to the central pole with nuts and bolts, which then securely attached to my desk. I then slid in the two arms, which features a no-tension adjustment system.
Attaching my Thunderbolt Display to one of the arms was where I hit a snitch however, and it had nothing to do with the Mobile Pro Combo. Rather, it was a problem with Apple's VESA Mount kit. Basically, I simply couldn't get the middle screw on the mount to completely screw into the display using the tools provided in Apple's kit. I ended up stripping the screw.
Not being able to remove or fully install the VESA adapte, I had to take the display to an Apple Store. Staff at the Apple Store removed, replaced and installed a new mount for me. The Apple staff member said a Torx screw driver was ideally required to screw in the central screw properly. Unfortunately, I don't have one of those, but I've added it to my shopping list for next time! Once Apple's VESA adapter was securely attached to my Thunderbolt Display, I attached the arm and got a friend to help me slide the arm and display into the central pole. I have a MacBook Pro with Retina display, so I attached the Mobile Pro Combo's stand to its second arm and put that into place easily.
After a little bit of tinkering with the height of each arm, I finally settled on positioning that I was happy with. Previously, I'd grown accustomed to always looking slightly downwards towards my Thunderbolt Display, and even further at my MacBook Pro's display. I guess it's just something you assume is normal. However, with the Mobile Pro Combo, just having my Thunderbolt Display more in line with my sitting line-of-sight -- being able to look straight ahead at the display with out having to crane my neck up or down -- made much more of a difference than I was expecting. My posture immediately improved. No longer did I hunch, and if I did, as soon as I looked at my display I was reminded by its height that I needed to sit up straight.
The second thing I noticed and immediately loved was that I suddenly had a load more desk space available. The central pole with a desk clamp takes up a little more space than the footprint of the Thunderbolt Display or iMac. However, because it's placed at the back of my desk, and pretty much in the corner, it's a much more convenient use of space. Of course, with my Macbook Pro off my desk, I immediately gained a chunk of space there, too.
In terms of adjusting my displays, I think I appreciated more just being able to adjust my displays to where they best suit me ergonomically and practically. I didn't do too much adjusting on a day-to-day basis, though it was great to be able to adjust when I felt like it, like when I fancied sitting more back in my chair towards the end of the day or even tilting the display towards a visiting friend or colleague. But what really mattered was that my screen setup suited me, and that made my work environment much more comfortable, practicaly and enjoyable.
I personally didn't take advantage of the portrait positioning, but if I had two Thunderbolt Displays (wouldn't that be nice!), I would be tempted to try one of them in this position.
On the first night I had the Mobile Pro Combo setup, I half expected to hear an almighty crash, while I was in the other room, or come to my desk in the morning to find my display smashed on the floor because the mount had collapsed under the display's wieght. But that didn't happened. In fact, everything about the Mobile Pro Combo reassured me of its sturdiness and durability. I found where I had adjusted things, that's where they stayed.
Finally, the Mobile Pro Combo looks the part, too, fitting right in with its gunmetal / silver color, pairing reasonably well with my own Apple gear. Cable management is also catered for, keeping things looking neat and tidy.
In the past, the idea of mounting my display had always intrigued me, but never enough for me to actually get one. I'd assumed the positioning of my display, and the lost workspace to an external display and a laptop, was the norm. However, now that I've had the chance to use Bretford's Mobile Pro Desk Mount Combo, I have to say that I'm truly won over. I found the Mobile Pro Combo a pleasure to use, freeing up my workspace and adjusting to my personal ergonomic needs as I required. It had a dramatic impact on my work space, and I can easily foresee it having an even greater impact in an office, lab, studio or school environment, too.
Having said that, Bretford's Mobile Pro Desk Mount Combo is not cheap, especially if you need the desk clamp, too. However, If you're at your desk all day using two displays, your work space is limited, and you find that your posture could be better, the Mobile Pro Combo is a quality piece of kit that will serve you well for many years to come, enhancing your work environment.
- Relatively straight forward setup
- Frees desktop space
- no-tension adjustment system
- Numerous ergonomic adjustment options for demanding users and environments
- Sturdy, strong and durable
- Easy to use once setup
- Multi-display or Macbook Pro / Air support
- Cable management
- Designed to be used with Apple iMacs and displays
- Backed by a 12-year Bretford warranty
- Desk drilling required or the additional purchase of a desk clamp
- Depending on your Mac / display model, you may need to purchase Apple's VESA Mount adapter kit
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