PED3 iPhone Stand
Developer: Thought Out
Requirements: iPhone or iPhone 3G.
Been to a cellphone store lately? There’s a dizzying array of accessories available for almost every phone. Apple’s iPhone is no exception, of course. The iPod-accessory market was already a billion-dollar business even before the iPhone was introduced, and the enormous market developed almost overnight.
Thought Out has jumped into that market with both feet, and its latest offering is a desk stand for the iPhone and iPod touch called the PED3. The PED3 is a powder-coated steel stand that offers two main features: cable management and a rotating design. The former keeps your desk organized, while the latter lets you watch movies with ease—if you’re the sort of person who enjoys sitting at a desk, presumably near your computer, watching movies on a screen approximately 1/20th the size of your computer’s screen.
That criticism is perhaps unnecessarily sarcastic, because the PED3 has a nice heft to it that would make it useful, for example, on an airliner’s tray table. It’s certainly not something that absolutely has to sit next to your computer, though its awkward shape makes it less portable than some stands. Many third-party cases have a built-in kickstand feature that accomplishes the same thing.
Speaking of cases, the PED3 is really designed to fit the bare iPhone or iPod touch sans case or “skin.” However, Thought Out does officially endorse gently adjusting (read: bending) the “fingers” on the stand to fit devices enclosed in a protective case. The fit with a bare iPhone is very good; the fit with an iPhone in a case or silicone skin requires some minor adjustments and still isn’t ideal—though it’s far better than just tossing the cased phone on a desk.
I’ve seen similar designs for iPod stands (usually for use in vehicles) that were more adjustable without feeling as if you were going to bend something too far, and I prefer those designs to the bend-and-check method.
Other than the fit with a case, Thought Out seems to have, if you’ll pardon the phrase, thought out the design fairly well. The fingers are spaced so as to allow easy access to the Dock connector, headphone jack, volume/silent buttons, and power button. In a pinch, you can even use the PED3 as a (very) cheap camera tripod. This is a welcome relief after seeing several iterations of PowerBook stands from various manufacturers that blocked one or another important port on the laptop. It’s definitely a design principle that other accessory makers could stand to emulate more often.
I know, I know, you’re thinking, $40 is a lot to pay for a little bit of 1/8-inch mild steel. And if you think about it that way, it is. But think about this: Apple’s iPhone dock is $30 and doesn’t allow rotation. The Apple dock does, however, have line-level audio output and a nice speakerphone feature.
If you talk a lot on speakerphone or use your iPhone as your primary music device, maybe Apple’s dock is a better choice; I personally just leave a USB cable plugged into my external keyboard and hook up the iPhone whenever I’m home, and my laptop—not my phone or iPod—is hooked up to the stereo system. If you watch a lot of video on your iPhone or iPod touch, or have other reasons to use it in widescreen mode often, the rotation feature will probably appeal greatly to you, so it’s probably worth the extra ten bucks.
While the PED3 hasn’t yet met my very high standards for stuff I take with me everywhere, it has become a semi-permanent fixture on my desk in just under a month. It’s far from perfect, but it’s definitely useful. And if you don’t care about a line-out audio port, it’s a viable alternative to Apple’s various docks.