Cricket Laptop Stand
Requirements: tablet or laptop
A friend of mine from college, Dr. Sean, bought a first-generation Mazda Miata, the roadster that blended a retro English style and modern Japanese engineering. Once you experienced it with the top down, it was so much fun you might exclaim, “Wow, every car should be a convertible.” But then you likely would realize the compromises compelled by the removal of part of the structure: higher cost, lower stability, risk of accidents, and general unpleasantness in inclement weather. Yet like only a few other vehicles—none in its price class—the little Miata came with a hardtop two people could install without difficulty to make this indulgence more practical during the winter: once it was latched into place, it was as if you were riding in a regular coupe. It was an instant transformation.
Well, this is a perfect analogy, suitable for multiple choice exam testing. I just bought an Axiotron Modbook, the Apple-based tablet. I love it for many reasons, despite not being the graphic-designer type who would most benefit from this innovation. When I’m teaching, it’s great to have a second machine to display the textbook in PDF format and other materials I need to access; the primary machine is for note taking and mindmapping. I’ve even started to take the stylus and poke at my plain MacBook, accidentally and ineffectively. The Modbook is like the Miata. It’s lots of fun. But it has some inherent limitations. Its greatest advantages turn out to be its greatest disadvantages.
And that is how the analogy is completed. The Cricket stand is to the Axiotron Modbook as the removable hardtop is to the Mazda Miata. Made by Innovative and sold by the LCD Arms Web site, it is a handy device that changes the tablet form factor into the laptop clamshell form factor—sort of. Opened up, it props up the Modbook at roughly the same angle you would have a MacBook set to.
Modbook on Cricket
Of course, the keyboard is still independent. However, that’s much more of an advantage than a disadvantage. If you had the Cricket stand and a Bluetooth keyboard, you could use the Axiotron Modbook as your sole computer in virtually the same manner as a regular laptop. True, you can’t prop the Cricket on your lap, but you can just use the tablet in your lap in most instances. The only situation where the Modbook on a Cricket is inferior is where there isn’t a flat, hard surface to use.
The Cricket is pretty much perfect. The design is simple, elegant, and flawless. It is essentially a folding tripod with several detents at specific angles through a wide range of motion (11 degrees to 60 degrees) and capable of holding up to 12 pounds.
There is a large button that unlocks the main, back leg. The two front legs expand outward, and a prop pivots down from each of the legs. The structure also works to hold up a laptop or other device (i.e., it is not Modbook-specific), which if you believe what they say about good posture, is important ergonomically. I have always been a sloucher, so I don’t much care.
The execution is top-notch. The hinge is metal, and the back leg is metal reinforced; the primary material is plastic. The props that hold the bottom of the device are ridged and have enough friction for a secure grip. That’s probably the most important aspect of the matter: confidence that your precious Modbook is being cradled safely.
The device has a nice heft and feel (any lighter and it would likely feel flimsy even if it weren’t); the moving parts click into place reassuringly; it does not seem likely that they will wear out within a reasonable lifetime of use. It comes in a plain box with a nylon carrying pouch. The manufacturer claims 70% of the components are made from recycled materials, and it is available in three colors (green, white, and gray).
There really is nothing at all that isn’t just terrific on the Cricket. The only quibble that might be offered is that the pouch has a drawstring which doesn’t stay shut without tying a knot into it. The pouch is a throwaway accessory anyway, so it’s really a stretch to find anything to nitpick about. It is important to note, however, that the Cricket is slightly too small to hold a 17-inch laptop all that securely.
When I bought the Cricket, I had not intended to write a review. I had spent an hour or so surfing the Web, looking for information on a stand suitable for the Modbook. I stumbled across a blog entry about the Cricket. I was surprised by the relative lack of publicity it’s received. It has received design awards from industry groups.
So I am writing this short evaluation to ensure that others are aware of an excellent product likely to be useful to many readers. This is a product that inspires a consumer to make recommendations to others.