When I was exploring BookExpo America, I happened upon a booth selling a new tablet easel. It looked interesting enough, and the price was right, so I stopped by and grabbed one in the last hour of BookCon on Saturday. I had intended to post a review of it Thursday or Friday evening, but things got busy and I got tired. But I’m ready to talk about it now.
The tablet easel in question is the PhiferSmart Tablet Stand, currently available from PhiferCreations for $40. PhiferCreations has also made easels for holding books, which are available on Amazon, but the PhiferSmart isn’t listed there yet. The PhiferSmart is actually a lot simpler than those book easels seem to be, which makes it surprising they want $40 for it—but the price it sold for at BEA was $23, which was considerably more reasonable.
(One lady I talked to at the booth said she thought the price was supposed to be $30, but some of their distributors sold it for more—which makes it puzzling that the price listed on their own site is $40. Perhaps I should have shown that to her and asked about it directly. )
When you get right down to it, all the PhiferSmart really is a flat plate which has another plate mounted onto it with a stiff hinge. You can tip that plate up or back at any angle you want, and it’s big enough to have room for most sizes of tablet—not to mention e-ink readers such as the Kindle. It’s made of sturdy ABS plastic which can take a lot of abuse, and it offers two possible methods of mounting your tablet to it—either set it in the lip at the bottom that will hold it in place, or use the velcro hook stickers that come with it to stick it to the velcro loop panel in the middle of the easel plate.
If you’re using the velcro stickers, then you can simply keep your tablet in place on the easel, fold it flat, and slip it into a large enough zipper case, tablet and all. If you’re just using the lip, you’ll have to take the tablet out and carry it separately.
There’s not really a whole lot to say about a device that’s so simple. I do appreciate the way it’s sturdy and adjustable, and it will work with any of my tablets—the iPad Mini, the Fire, even my Nexus 7 if I pop it out of its case. And it’s big enough that there’s room to use the tablet in portrait or landscape. I could see myself putting a tablet in it and a Bluetooth keyboard on the table in front of it to get some typing in. It’s certainly a lot sturdier than the little notched folding piece of plastic that came with my AmazonBasics keyboard.
One big thing I don’t like so much is the requirement to stick velcro on the back of your tablet to get full use out of it. I’m really not fond of applying permanent stickers to my devices. I don’t think making them able to stick to an easel is worth losing the ability to set them flat on a hard surface. What I’d like to see instead would be some kind of a cinch strap I could fasten around the top bezel to hold the tablet securely in place. I wonder if such a thing could be made? But in any event, the lip at the bottom of the easel should be enough to secure my tablets for normal table-top use
Another thing I’m not so fond of is the $40 retail price. I could see paying $23 for it, or maybe even $30, but $40 seems a little much for what you get. I hope the booth lady was right and $40 is a mistake.
If you can get it at a decent price, this easel would be great for hands-free use of either a tablet or e-reader—or, indeed, several tablets or e-readers, depending on what you’re using at the time. If you need extra velcro-hook stickers, I imagine they can be had in any art or craft shop.