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The TabGrip Stand for the iPad, a decent stand with a major problem

David Winograd

At Macworld 2011, I was shown the TabGrip (US$39.99), which looked and felt like a great iPad stand; I didn't realize that it had a major problem until I got it home and installed it. It's a stand that works in either landscape or portrait orientation. It consists of four riveted hard plastic sides connected by a soft and pliable rubber backing that allows you to stretch it so that each side snaps onto each of the four sides of the iPad.

The four riveted sides contain a hinged foot that allows you to stand your iPad just about any way you'd like. It is very uncomfortable on your lap, but it's meant to be stood on a table, so no problem there. The feet don't lock, so you really can't exert too much pressure on it before the feet slide down, but it's really not meant for use in that manner. For typing or viewing, the feet are sturdy enough.

With the feet folded against the iPad, holding it feels great. It seems to make the iPad more rigid and adds very little weight. When you hold it, it makes the unit feel very sturdy, and the rubberized grips feel just about perfect. Holding the iPad by the top and sides can add a lot to gaming or just about anything else, and since it doesn't block any of the screen, the TabGrip adds a bit of well designed lightweight heft in any position. The grips are of a size that won't let the iPad touch the ground, either from the front or back, since they are slightly thicker than the tablet.

When I held it in the TabGrip booth, I immediately noticed that it felt perfect and didn't let your fingers slide around due to the texture of the grips. In short -- I was quite impressed and thought that it was a great design that really improved the user experience of holding or standing an iPad any way you could imagine. At least until I got it home and installed it.

In order to get it onto your iPad, you need to really stretch the rubber backing and pull each grip enough so that it snaps onto each side. I did enjoy using it, until I realized that for me it was a one way trip -- I tried and failed to remove it. I couldn't pull the grips enough to take it off of any of the four sides, and I quickly realized that unless I wanted to put my screen in jeopardy, the only way for me to take it off was to cut the pliable backing with a scissor or knife, destroying the unit entirely, and that's just what I did. There was no way that I was going to risk breaking my iPad for a stand no matter how good it felt. Now I'm left with four pieces of garbage that each have part of the backing and one riveted grip. Into the trash it went.

I should have seen it coming when I realized how much I had to stretch the backing to install it. However, I didn't, and I would feel quite ripped off if I paid for it and couldn't remove it without destroying either it or the screen of my iPad.

Your mileage may vary (and you may have stronger hands than I do), but I can't recommend buying a TabGrip. It's a nice idea, but they didn't think through the design. Unless you decide that you'll never remove it, consider it an accident waiting to happen -- or, make sure you have a really strong friend.

In the video below, you'll see Mike Rose checking out the TabGrip at Macworld Expo with Shawn King (Shawn was a big fan of the case, but that might have been before he tried to take one off an iPad). While Mike isn't exactly a 90-pound weakling, he has quite a bit of trouble with the case and it takes a lot of effort to get it removed. Like I said, I couldn't do it at all.

Post edited to clarify that the case is removable with sufficient effort.

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