Item: The Belkin Chef Stand and Stylus for Tablets
Price: $39.99 at full price (Many sources, including Amazon, sell it for $21)
Overall Impression: An indispensable tool for using tablets like the iPad in the kitchen and for keeping them safely out of the way when cooking.
I had my iPad in the kitchen with me within hours of opening the box, and now I consider it a cooking tool just as essential as my KitchenAid mixer or my subscription to Fine Cooking. I usually prop my iPad on unused part of the counter, out of splashing distance but still within visual range, and use a mostly-clean knuckle to scroll through recipes when my fingers are sticky. This stand from Belkin has changed all that in one fell swoop.
Characteristics and Specs: The stand is roughly the size of your hand, about 5 inches in diameter and 2 inches at its tallest point, and weighs about 5 ounces. The bottom and top surfaces are coated with a rubbery material that prevents the stand from sliding or the tablet from slipping off the stand. The stand is designed to hold a tablet in either portrait or landscape view as well as either slightly angled or completely upright. Both the stand and the stylus can be cleaned with warm soapy water.
Favorite details: The rubber grippy surfaces are astounding. Even when I jostle the table or touch the iPad more firmly than intended, neither the stand nor the iPad move a centimeter. This goes for the tile surface of my counter, the stainless steel of my prep table, and the wood of my dining room table. The whole assembly feels very solid and well-balanced.
Potential problems: None, really. The only drawback for me is the stylus, which is heavy and a bit awkward to grip. It functions perfectly fine, acting just as well as your finger for tapping and scrolling. Maybe it's habit, but I find myself going back to just using a fingertip or a clean knuckle instead of reaching for the stylus.
Good for small kitchens? Yes! In small kitchens, using the stand to prop the iPad upright means it takes up less space while being easier to use.
I was really surprised at how quickly this stand became an essential part of my daily routine, both in the kitchen and out. Since I can prop it nearly vertically, I have found it much easier to reference while in the middle of cooking prep. I even feel comfortable bringing it closer to my work station instead of exiling it to the "safe place" counter across the kitchen. I also find myself carrying the stand with me from room to room, using it to prop up the iPad to read while I eat lunch or as a second monitor while working.
I use the stand nearly exclusively in the fully upright position, both portrait and landscape. The flatter angle seems less useful to me, though a necessary design component for keeping the stand itself stable. Even so, it's nice to have the option should I ever want it. I also don't use the stylus very often. It's thick and heavy, and I never seem to have it nearby when I need it.
Find It! The Belkin Chef Stand and Stylus for Tablets, $21 at Amazon ($39.99 full price)
(Image: Emma Christensen)