A brilliant idea that is almost perfect. I first found the FLOTE while lamenting about the difficulty of reading my iPad while holding a sleeping infant. The jackals in the chatroom pointed me to the FLOTE, a simple, beautiful, iPad stand that solves this very problem.

The base of the stand.

There were only two catches:

  1. This was a Kickstarter project that had not shipped yet.
  2. It is priced at $319.99.

The price, honestly, seemed a bit much, but in looking at it more I could truly see the quality of build that was going into the product. I paid up and waited.

I waited a really long time. Past the time when my daughter was sleeping on me all the time. I still wanted it.

I finally got it, and it is a mixed bag for me.

The Design

The creator of the FLOTE kept me in the loop and I can tell you that the detail he focused on is amazing. There is a lot of care in this stand and it shows.

The magnetic ball of perfection.

The magnetic ball that allows articulation of the iPad is amazingly well designed. It’s quite honestly my favorite part of the stand, so well done that it seems as though Apple designed that bit.

The looks are fantastic. The stand is sturdy and decidedly will not tip over — it weighs a lot. The clamp for the iPad is strong and allows for many different sized tablets. However the clamp seems like it could have been better. It’s not bad, but I’ve yet to be able to take my iPad in or out with just one hand. That probably wasn’t a design consideration, but when you are relaxing on the couch it is much harder to do something on the stand with two hands than just one.

The iPad clamp.

The stand itself swivels amazingly well. The telescoping arm was added after the funding was complete, and it works decently. The action is smooth, however the plastic finger nut is an unfortunate necessity. I have found, though, that you rarely need to telescope the arm — so it’s a set it and forget it thing for me. Thus, this doesn’t bug me too much.

The finger nut for the telescoping arm.

Which leads me to the one thing that drives me nuts about the stand: the up and down arm action. The arm that holds the iPad out from the vertical pole is secured with a large hex bolt. You pre-tighten it and then you are supposed to be able to use it with no issues. That, however, isn’t how it played out for me.

The hex bolt of doom.

I have yet to find the sweet spot that allows for smooth travel of the arm, with a firm hold when I want my iPad to stay where I want it. The creator is revising the design, to add a plastic wing nut instead of the hex bolt, but even that isn’t a great solution. This isn’t a deal breaker, I just tightened it down more so that it is a bit tougher to move — that works, but it’s not great.

The Real Problem I Have

What I have come to realize is that no matter how good this stand was, it simply wouldn’t work for me. The iPad, it turns out, is a very intimate device. Whereby I mean that part of what makes the iPad great is touching it and holding it. So when you off-load the holding to a stand, the iPad just becomes a screen.

In use, iPad can be used at any angle or orientation.

That seems nice at first, but then you realize it’s not really great as just a screen.

Therein lies the problem: I don’t like using an iPad if I am not holding it.

Back to the FLOTE

iPad clamped in with Smart Cover still on.

The FLOTE is not perfect, but you’d be hard pressed to look at it, use it and still say that it is over priced. It’s well made, it’s solid. A lot of thought has gone into it and the two problems I have with it are fairly minor in use.

No, my real problem with the FLOTE is that it solves a problem — that as it turns out — I really don’t have.

Originally posted for members on: November 3, 2012
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