If you’re like me, you use a variety of gear to remain productive.
The mainstay of my workflow is my MacBook Air, with my iPhone being second in line, followed by my iPad.
In my opinion, any real work on an iPad requres a keyboard. Perhaps, if you grow up using an on-screen software keyboard, you might feel differently, but I get frustrated by the lack of tactile feedback that a real keyboard provides.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I frequently live-tweet some of the professional events that I attend. I don’t always have a net connection for my MacBook or iPad, so the iPhone is my fallback device. It’s these times that I wish my iPhone also had a full-size keyboard.
While this has been possible as of iOS 4, using Bluetooth, the remaining problem is about placement and orientation: what do you do with the iPhone while you’re using an external keyboard?
This is where the Wingstand comes in.
Conceived in a dorm room at Stanford, the Wingstand consists of two specially shaped pieces of recycled plastic. (Not surprisingly, resembling an airplane wing.)
On what would be considered the leading edge of the wing is a vertical slot with what looks to be about a 20 degree pitch. When a single Wingstand piece is coupled with it’s twin, an iPad, iPhone or other such device can be lowered into this slot. When placed on a flat surface, the trailing edge of the wing provides leverage to support your device, allowing it to stand freely.
Also on the leading edge of the wing, on the lower section, is what can best be described as a hexagon, though missing one of it’s sides.
This hexagonal-like shape is used for stability but ingeniously, it’s designed to slide over the rounded back of an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard. This portion of the Wingstand even has a groove cut out of it, so you slide it over the rubber-ish pads at the bottom of the keyboard without shearing them off.
Using the Wingstand
I used the Wingstand during my travels to and from Blogworld & New Media Expo in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago.
On the plane, it was ideal. Since the first leg of my flight on the way to LA didn’t have in-flight WiFi, the Wingstand allowed me to compose and respond to email on my iPhone using the full-size keyboard while keeping the phone upright. When I landed in my connecting city and turned on my iPhone, my messages were automatically sent. This was great.
The second leg of my trip had in-flight WiFi, so I was able to use my iPad with the Wingstand to get some work done.
The Wingstand turned out to be ideal in both these situations since the seatback trays while flying in coach on Delta were pathetic – I couldn’t even open my MacBook Air to a usable position.
I happen to use ZAGG’s InvisibleShield on both the screen and back of my iPad 2. While the device fit just fine with the clear protection (in fact, it will even fit while using an Apple Smart Cover), the Wingstand did leave indentations in the screen protector and even shifted the screen protector around a bit. Luckily, I was able to smooth it back into place, but the Wingstand left tiny – but still visible – impressions on my iPad 2’s screen protector. Because of this, I won’t continue to use the Wingstand with my iPad.
I have no such protection on my iPhone and will continue to use the Wingstand with that device.
When I finally arrived in LA, I used the Wingstand all week. Before dinner each night I would return to my hotel room, jump on the WiFi network with my iPhone and call my wife and son using FaceTime. The Wingstand worked great in both portrait or landscape orientation.
At bed time, it made for a perfect stand for my iPhone when used as an alarm clock. I continue to use it this way at home.
In fact, I’m using it right now. (No, I’m not writing this in my sleep. If only I could…)
I use IA Writer in full-screen mode to avoid distractions while I write my posts. However, I still need to make sure that any email I receive doesn’t require immediate attention and for this, the Wingstand is great. My iPhone is sitting in portrait orientation in the Wingstand next to my MacBook Air so I can see my email notifications as they arrive.
Yesterday, I used it in the same way only in landscape orientation to watch a live video stream of a conference while I was working. This allowed me to glance at the video stream without having to jump between browser windows on my MacBook Air. Sure, I could have gone into my office, connected an external display and watched the stream in another browser window on that display, but the Wingstand accomplished the same thing for me without my having to do that.
In terms of my specific workflows, I find the Wingstand lacking in only one way: it requires a flat surface in order to use it.
Day-to-day, I really need a keyboard for my iPad and iPhone that allows me to use it on my lap. Keyboards such as the ZAGGkeys Solo fill this need as it has a groove in which you can place your device.
However, if this is a trivial concern of yours, don’t let my persnickety workflows influence you – the Wingstand is a perfect companion for stable, hands-free use of your tablet or smartphone.
The company indicates that the Wingstand is compatible with:
- iPad 2
- Galaxy Tab
- BlackBerry Playbook (Hah! That’s funny. That probably means it will also work with the Kindle Fire, though.)
- HP TouchPad (Hah! That’s double-funny.)
- Acer Iconia (Whatever.)
- HTC Flyer
- iPhone 4/4S
- iPhone 3/3GS
I’m sure that there are many others for which it will work, but it may require some testing on your part. The full specifications of the Wingstand are available on the company’s web site.
The Wingstand is highly portable, inexpensive, eco-friendly and supports a variety of devices. While your use of the Wingstand will ultimately boil down to personal preference, if you use your tablet or smartphone for any of it’s intended uses – watching video, composing email with an external keyboard, following recipes, video conferencing or as an alarm clock – the Wingstand is as effective as any other stand on the market, at any cost.
The Wingstand costs $14.95 and is available now in black or white plastic.