The Monkey Kit adds a tail to your iPad so you can go hands-free
The Monkey Kit (US$69) from Octa is essentially a long, posable tail for your iPad plus a small handle accessory. Like a monkey's tail, the Monkey Tail (also sold separately) allows you to hang your iPad or merely provide support when propping it up. While not everyone will have a use for the thing, the Monkey Kit might come in handier than you think, whether you appreciate prehensile tails or not.
The tail is a flexible metal neck sheathed in nearly 3 feet of grippy silicon, with a locking mount on one end and a rubber tip on the other. When you attach the Vacuum Dock (which should have been called Monkey Head, but I digress), the dock attaches to your iPad using suction.
The dock is very sturdy, and the button used to pull a vacuum gradually shrinks into the handle so you know when you've applied enough suction for a secure grip. As you can imagine, the dock will work with any nonporous, smooth case or tablet, so this isn't just for iPads.
The tail provides that mythical balance of stiffness to flexibility -- mostly. That is to say, it will often stay put as needed, even with an older, heavier iPad. It is reasonably flexible, allowing you to make a "spring" configuration to rest upon your lap, a table or the floor. I had success mounting it to wire shelves and an office chair. All that said, I'd love to see a way to pull tension in the tail, firming up the grip. Over time and with repeated, er, monkeying, it does get looser. Not so much as to be useless, just needing more adjustment when used and abused.
The Monkey Kit can be used without the tail, however. That dock can be removed and secured to an iPad so it can be used as more of a handle or smaller prop for the device. That's handy, but I preferred having it attached to the tail most of the time. It also means I have to keep up with the little rubber piece that's used to hide the hole where the head unit attaches to the tail. Not a huge deal, and that dock can be used with the company's Whale Tail product, which is a firmer plastic attachment for basic positioning and support.
As an additional handle for your iPad with just the smaller head unit applied, the Monkey's vacuum dock is sturdy and cool, but there are other products to help you hold your iPad in your hand. If you're doing handheld product shots, for example, the Monkey is a good way to keep one hand out of view while still holding the iPad. I used to use a sort of rubber band (reviewed here), but the Monkey attaches quickly and securely and out of sight.
As a way to hang your iPad, or prop it up with the tail, the Monkey is a great accessory. Of course, that's if you need it. Ask yourself how often you need to be able to prop up your iPad from an overhead bar, or maybe lift it up a foot or so off the table or ground. The Monkey Tail allows you to do this, and a lot more.
The Monkey Tail can't cheat physics, however, so there are some limits. You have to be careful about balance, so the iPad doesn't tip over when you position it. Also, the adjustable neck in the tail isn't magic, so it is limited to a certain amount of bend. My son was clever enough to figure out a way to jam it into an office chair's hand rests, for example, but I can see how that would be a little dangerous if you were scooting around on a hard floor. After spinning around like Captain Kirk, however, I felt pretty confident in the ability of the silicon coating to hold firm. I think we probably bent the tail almost too far, however, as the bend was pretty severe to wedge it into the chair's armrest, but the Monkey Tail has thus far showed no signs of breakage.
Hanging the iPad can be frustrating if you've ever tried one of those wraparound flashlights which seem to have waned in popularity. If you've ever wrapped something around a pole only to see it wiggle down to the floor, you know what I mean. This isn't the Monkey's fault, but I'm just telling you the accessory isn't magical and doesn't contain anti-gravity functions. You'd think this was obvious, but my hilarious attempts to secure my iPad on these shelves make a reminder necessary. I wasn't willing to commit to duct tape, either, but once you get the hang of it (groan) you'll find the Monkey Tail is great for securing your iPad to certain structures.
The Monkey Kit, with dock and tail, is very well constructed, and I have already found a dozen useful placements for the thing. Some examples: In the morning when I shave I'm able to bring the iPad closer to eye level. When I jog on my treadmill I'm able to quickly secure the iPad at a comfortable location. In the kitchen the iPad no longer sits on the counter, but is closer to eye level and further away from where I'm chopping ingredients. I've even watched a weather forecast while shaving. Octa's website has a gallery of more uses like watching movies in bed and reading ebooks on the couch.
Be sure to read the instructions on how to lock and unlock the dock from the tail, too. You can separate the two for easier traveling.
The Monkey Kit is useful for anyone who needs a rear handle for their iPad, but its real feature is the Monkey Tail which gives your iPad a flexible neck for an almost endless array of secure positioning options. If you know someone with any flavor of iPad who uses it while lounging, the Monkey Kit is a good deal for a gift.
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