The iPad was my gateway device into the Apple world. It’s not as expensive as the Mac range and in many way it can be the only device that people need for work (although some types of work aren’t really possible…yet). As such, I have a very strong attachment to my iPad and often use it as my primary device and not just a consumption device.
However, one of the issues that holds me back from using my iPad as my only device is the in ability to use it for a long time on the couch, or at least in a comfortable fashion. You either have to keep holding the device or try to form a rest for it, especially when using a wireless keyboard along side it.
Generally, this leads to an awkward uncomfortable experience requiring you to try different surfaces with greater friction and trying to get your legs into a good position to hold both the keyboard and the iPad. So when I heard about the Groovboard and how it solved this problem. I knew I had to check it out.
What I Like
Right from opening the box it was clear that the groovboard is a premium product. You might think that it is “just a piece of wood” but that doesn’t reflect the time and attention put into the design. The box has the brand name indented into the top, it comes with a canvas carry bag as well as a beautiful designed note from the creator.
The item itself is made from gorgeous wood, there are a selection of different types of wood that are on offer for you to choose from depending on your taste. This isn’t plywood or some cheap splintering plank, it is a great looking, firm, solid and smooth piece of wood with carefully crafted cut out slots to hold your iPad and a wireless keyboard (specifically the apple wireless keyboard). Options include Walnut, Bamboo, Plum, Oak, Alder, Apple, Beech, Cherry and even some limited editions.
There are two positions of use designed for you and your iPad. The first is into the long flat top at a steep, almost vertical angle (flat mode), perfect when you are sat down normally. The second is at the end of the wood to provide the option of having your legs up (upright mode). A great position for relaxing and watching something or for drawing. This position in particular is extremely difficult to achieve any other way or using other tools.
There are also two small indents in the top which can hold a stylus or similar device to interface with your screen (or just a regular pen if you really like) and you can shorten the device, reducing the size and ability to use a keyboard but taking up less space and weight, by pulling the base off. This base is attached by incredibly strong neodyne magnets which hold it incredible fast but require some caution as they can interfere with certain electronic items and I accidentally got my finger caught in the gap. As long as you aren’t taking the base off and putting your old hard drive against it, or rubbing your credit card down it, then you shouldn’t have any problems.
What I Don’t Like
I can only find a couple of potential blackmarks against the groovboard but I don’t really consider either to be a major let down. The first is that it appears to have been designed for a larger iPad such as the third and fourth. My iPad Air is absolutely fine when placed in the flat mode. However, if I try to use the groovboard in upright mode, then the iPad air moves around more than I would really like (this is a smaller issue for older iPads as well). This makes me always feel a little unsure when it is in the top. I’m sure I could find some small items to help secure it in place more but I hope Thomas will update the design in the future to better fit the iPad Air (and mini?).
The only other downside is also one of its strengths. As you might expect for a piece of solid wood, it has some weight to it. In a way it is slightly ironic to view the iPad as a laptop replacement if you then pick up items which make it weigh more than a laptop in total, but there is a good reason for this weight. The extra weight insures the iPad stays in it’s position and doesn’t move around. It also means that the piece of wood can be high quality and firm mitigating any concerns about its fragility.
So although the weight can be slightly annoying with prolonged use, it is still nicer than having an ever increasing in heat MacBook on your lap (and you can always change to just using the iPad and not the groovboard as well.) Personally, I have not experienced any discomfort from prolonged use with the groovboard but there is an optional cushion to place underneath if you do.
If you have a third or fourth generation iPad and love getting work done, typing away and just relaxing on a sofa or bed with the iPad, then the grooveboard will enhance your experience as soon as you get it. If you use your iPad more as an on the go item or whilst standing, then this items might not be so perfect for you. If you have the iPad Air or Mini, then you face the prospect of waiting for an update with a slightly improved design and fit for the newer iPads or dealing with the slightly looseness at the top.
If you have an older iPad, use it regularly on the couch instead of a computer and yet can’t find a comfortable position to use it in, then you really should check out the groovboard to enhance your iPad and get more done with it, more comfortably.