MacStories Product Review: JOBY GorillaMobile Ori for iPad

For those still holding onto the original iPad, have you ever thought about stepping your game up when it comes watching a family movie or utilizing the iPad as a bookstand? That folio case you have isn't going to elevate the iPad above those popcorn jaws, and you certainly aren't going to get a stable viewing angle on a leather cover as you tap through a recipe book. Even with a slew of gadgets and arms, the iPad is only as flat as its case. JOBY will help your iPad avoid disaster with a product that's quite transformative.

There's a lot to cover with the GorillaMobile Ori for iPad, and maybe the pun is better suited to describing just how adaptable the Ori is. It's a thick piece of kit, adding a solid pound to the already weighty iPad thanks to a complex, "light" aluminum frame. The frame is what's mind boggling about the Ori, as a traditional kickstand was replaced with a series of lifts, locks, hingers, and levers that could initially drive an unexperienced pilot crazy with its various arms and control mechanisms. A trainer's guide (okay, a small instructional booklet) is included to show customers various scenarios and positions you'd want to use the Ori stand in. This contraption's complexity is further acknowledged thanks to the giant instructional sticker plastered on one of the stand's surfaces. Where do we begin?

A majority of the Ori is crafted out of aluminum, which is lightweight and doesn't flex with the exception of the plastic infused binder. White plastic can be found throughout the stand, often acting as a buffer between plates or parts that'd otherwise "rub." As your dirty mind kicks in, the plastic behind the iPad is soft and textured, combined with a gray-rubber material that's designed to keep the back of your iPad from scratching inside the case, which is mounted on a non-detachable swivel that joins the holster to the rest of the stand. The bottom of the Ori is lined with microfiber, which when folded closed also protects the iPad's screen. I don't know if I'd want to use the Ori as a folio, but it's a possible configuration (more on this later).

You can use the Ori on your lap or on a table, and the stand can be positioned in several different ways. A hook can prop up the iPad for typing or reading, and you can lift the main base up and unlatch a wide support plate that hooks in for watching movies or on the table. If you want some serious height, the iPad can be tilted on a hinge so that the screen is at eye-level, and can be rotated to portrait or landscape mode thanks to the swivel. The tallest configuration works especially well with an Apple Wireless Keyboard, provided you don't care what your coworkers think.

The biggest issue I have with the Ori isn't how heavy or clunky it is when folded as a folio or permanent attachment for the iPad, it's that it wants to be permanently attached to your iPad. The case that secures the iPad to the stand completely encloses the iPad in a plastic and rubber frame, making it incredibly difficult to remove without some wiggle-work. To compensate for the thick plastic, rubber volume and power buttons were added that lay on top of the iPad's buttons, but end up doing more harm than good. With the tight fit, the volume rockers were often triggered unexpectedly, stuck thanks to the fit. The mute/rotation toggle in particular is hard to access, provided your fingernails aren't long. I understand you don't want the iPad falling out, but there has to be a better way.

On the bright side, the stand feels very secure when in use. Thanks to the various mechanisms that hold the stand in place depending on its configuration, there isn't a risk of your iPad falling over or smashing its screen on your table. The large flat bottom (which acts as the cover when closed) is stable, though the binder does wiggle left & right a little bit when you type or touch the screen without one of the aforementioned locking arms. Is your iPad going anywhere with this thing? It's basically like covering your iPad in body armor - the plates won't easily mend to the "powers of the force."

What you get with about five viewing angles is a stand that's really attached to your iPad. If you want to use it on a temporary basis as you watch movies or write, I'd look somewhere else as the iPad is a bear to remove once inserted. However, those who are going to utilize the Ori as their mobile workstation will appreciate the additional protection: it's unlikely a fall would damage the iPad when closed. A model for the iPad 2 is in the works, but for now you can grab the Ori for $79.95 from JOBY.