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HoverBar Duo: The MacStories Review

There is no shortage of iPad stands. Search for one on Amazon, for instance, and you’ll be met with page after page of results. Most stands are unremarkable, with little that distinguishes one from another.

Twelve South’s HoverBar Duo is different, though. The black aluminum and plastic stand has two articulating hinges with a clamp for your iPad that connects to the stand’s arm with a ball joint. The stand also rotates side-to-side at its base. The design, which is reminiscent of an attractive, modern desk lamp, provides a broader range of motion than most stands, making it useful in more scenarios. As a result, I’ve found myself using the HoverBar Duo far more than any stand I’ve tried before.

For the past few years, I’ve used a stand from Viozon that I first heard about from Jason Snell at Six Colors. It’s a good stand for writing with an external keyboard and pointing device connected to your iPad. The iPad isn’t positioned precisely at eye level. Still, it’s a step up from a laptop, making it more comfortable to use at a desk or table for extended stretches than if you used a laptop or the iPad Magic Keyboard. That’s exactly how I use an iPad most of the time, so it was a good fit with how I worked. However, with the introduction of Apple’s Magic Keyboard with Trackpad, the integrated trackpad was so compelling that I found myself using the stand less and less.

The HoverBar Duo is flexible enough to work in a sort of 'drawing mode.'

The HoverBar Duo is flexible enough to work in a sort of ‘drawing mode.’

The HoverBar Duo has changed that equation because it’s fundamentally more versatile. The arm is connected to a solid base by a hinge that also rotates back and forth. There’s another hinge a little more than halfway along the arm, which terminates in the clamp that holds your iPad in place and is attached to the arm by a ball joint. That’s four separate points of movement compared to the Viozon stand’s one.

In practice, the additional ways you can position the HoverBar Duo make it a compelling option for a wider range of tasks. The swivel base and ball joint make fine horizontal and tilt adjustments possible. The two hinges allow the stand’s arm to be positioned higher and further forward from the base than other stands. However, the range of motion also means you have to be mindful as you adjust the stand because it’s possible to extend the arm too far forward, causing it to tip over with the iPad’s weight.

The hinge at the base of the HoverBar Duo rotates.

The hinge at the base of the HoverBar Duo rotates.

The HoverBar Duo’s base is stable and heavy enough to support Apple’s biggest 12.9” iPad Pro. The base is metal with a hard plastic shell enclosure that includes a divot where you can rest the Apple Pencil, which can’t be attached to your iPad when it’s in the HoverBar Duo’s clamp. The base would feel more premium if it were all metal, but it looks nice enough as is. It’s worth noting, too, that the HoverBar Duo comes with a desk clamp that works well, but I don’t use it because I prefer the flexibility of setting up the stand anywhere I’m working.

The HoverBar Duo features a grippy, secure clamp for your iPad.

The HoverBar Duo features a grippy, secure clamp for your iPad.

At the other end of the HoverBar Duo, the spring-loaded, grippy rubber-lined clamp has enough range to hold everything from an iPhone to an iPad Pro securely. I tried the HoverBar Duo with an iPhone, and it works well, but I haven’t found a good use case for the setup. Instead, I’ve been alternating between my iPad Air and iPad Pro. The clamp can accommodate a case, so with the Air, I’ve been using it on the stand with the Smart Keyboard Folio attached.

As you tap at your iPad’s screen, it will wobble a little, but the HoverBar Duo is remarkably steady. I’ve tried an inexpensive bendable gooseneck iPad stand before, and they bounce and wobble a lot at the slightest touch. The HoverBar Duo is much steadier.

The ball joint connected to the clamp opens up even more iPad positioning options.

The ball joint connected to the clamp opens up even more iPad positioning options.

In practice, the HoverBar Duo’s flexibility has made it work much better alongside my Mac in a couple of scenarios. My Mac mini’s display is on a VESA arm that allows me to move it around quite a bit. In the past, if I set up an iPad in a stand next to the Mac, it always felt too far off to the side. It was useable but didn’t feel integrated.

That’s changed with the HoverBar Duo, which provides enough flexibility to place the iPad at a height that’s just as comfortable as my Mac’s display. The result is that I’ve begun using macOS’s Sidecar feature more often. I’ve also started using the iPad alongside my Mac to run shortcuts and complete other tasks for which it’s better, transferring the results to the Mac through a combination of AirDrop, the Universal Clipboard, and apps that sync quickly over iCloud. The change has been pronounced enough that I’m beginning to experiment with splitting tasks across the Mac and iPad in new ways. Thanks to my hub setup, which I’ve covered in MacStories Weekly, I can also plug in one cable to charge my iPad, access a fast Ethernet connection, and connect external storage as needed.

Most of the time, I use the HoverBar Duo alongside my Mac.

Most of the time, I use the HoverBar Duo alongside my Mac.

The other use case I’ve found for the HoverBar Duo is when I record podcasts. The iPad’s screen is terrific for scrolling through show notes as I record or reading a sponsor script. The HoverBar Duo’s footprint is small enough that I’ve got plenty of room for it alongside my other recording gear allowing me to start recording on the Mac and then swing its display to the side while focusing on the notes on my iPad.

Stands tend to be a pretty mundane accessory, which is why I don’t write about them often. However, Twelve South’s thoughtful design sets the HoverBar Duo apart from the pack. The black aluminum frame is attractive but discrete, allowing it to blend into a variety of environments. However, the greatest strength of the stand is how it adjusts to the task at hand. That versatility is critical because it makes the iPad useful in more situations, which is the hallmark of an exceptional accessory.

The HoverBar Duo is available for $79.99 directly from Twelve South and Amazon.

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