Tablets are brilliant devices for consuming content, but more and more people are finding them to be good tools for creativity. I for one enjoy the reduced distractions on offer when I write on a tablet compared to a desk-bound computer. But getting the tablet into a comfortable position, especially when using an external keyboard, can sometimes be an issue.
That’s where the Nimblestand might be useful. Proudly proclaiming ‘Made in USA’, this stand allows an Apple Keyboard and a tablet to be held in place at an ergonomic angle that promotes writing and interaction. Slide the keyboard into the stand, drop your tablet into the slot, and you’re ready to go.
Designer Gustavo Fontana calls it ‘gravity nesting’, which is a nice term for resting your tablet inside some grooves in the Nimblestand. Your tablet will rest in the stand and both landscape and portrait orientations work, which works well for use on a desk. Smaller tablets (in the seven/eight inch screen size footprint) can use an alternative groove for a shallower angle.
A secondary slide is included in the retail packaging which slots in opposite the keyboard and provides stability at the rear of the stand. This allows the Nimblestand to work when in your lap without having to lean on the keyboard side to stop everything tipping over.
I also like that the grooves are available on both sides of the Nimblestand, so if you want to support your tablet but not use the keyboard then you can spin the Nimblestand around the keyboard will be tucked away underneath the tablet. It’s nice touch and ensures the user is not forced to choose between ‘stand’ or ‘stand and keyboard’, although do note that your tablet will be held at a shallower angle.
With the release of the iPad Air, the basic form of the stand coped with the new thinner design, but part of the screen is obscured in landscape formation (this issue is also exhibited by the iPad Mini). Nimblestand provides (at no extra cost) an ‘iPad Air sustainability kit’ of four self-adhesive pads that can be stuck into the grooves to lift the iPad Air higher up in the grooves. Nimblestand have also made these available to existing customers for no extra charge, which is good customer service.
While the Nimblestand is designed to work with pretty much any tablet on the market, the other side of the equation is limited to just one choice…. Apple’s bluetooth keyboard. Not surprisingly, I have no issues with this choice. I’ve already spoken about the flexibility of travelling with this peripheral and in the last few months I’ve taken to using the keyboard at home with my MacBook Pro. If you like the look of the Nimblestand but don’t already own the Apple keyboard, you’ll need to add in another $69 to the price.
Designed in ABS plastic to prevent scratches of either the Apple Keyboard or your tablet the Nimblestand feels robust and I’ve had no complaints about the build quality. You do have to slide your Apple keyboard into it which is a relatively tight fit and needs some positive force, but it can be easily removed if you want to go back to using the keyboard without the stand.
As a final touch the Nimblestand has a storage slot and ‘inkwell’ holder for a Wacom Bamboo stylus (available as an optional extra or as a standalone accessory). The inkwell holder leaves the stylus ready to lift up quickly but out of my eye-line when typing. I just wish I had the option to rest the stylus on the right hand side of the stand which would stop this right-handed writer leaning over when I wanted to use it.
The Nimblestand is comfortable to use. Of course I’m already familiar with the Apple Keyboard, which helps, but it holds my tablet in place at a good viewing angle – I’ve tried the stand with the original iPad and iPad Mini, a Kindle Fire, and Sony’s Xperia Z Tablet, all of which fit easily into the grooves. It makes for an almost laptop like experience, especially when using it with the larger screened tablets and editing tools such as Pages, Blogsy, and Documents To Go.
The appeal of the Nimblestand is a little tougher to pin down. There are many cases out there (especially for tablets) that have either a stand integrated in them to set your tablet at a good viewing angle. Others have bluetooth keyboards built into the case. Your favourite case may work in the Nimblestand, or it may need to be removed – your mileage may vary. Nimblestand also note that SmartCover equipped iPads will fit into the stand with no extra issues.
For me the main advantage of the Nimblestand is the ability to bring together an iPad with an Apple Keyboard on a desk and create a well designed working environment. It does give you three elements to carry around if you are on the move (tablet, keyboard, and stand – although the intention must be to leave the keyboard and stand connected), and while the in-lap solution does work, it requires more bulk with the secondary slide to the rear.
If you’re happy with the extra transportation issues, or you have a workstation where this would be at home, then the Nimblestand is a smart investment, especially if you do a lot of typing on your tablet and you already own an Apple bluetooth keyboard.