Although there are several iPad stands on the market, one in particular caught our attention: Octa's TabletTail, the MonkeyTail version. It tucks into different areas, winds up, and lifts your tablet to eye-level so you can go hands-free.
Octa has developed a few different TabletTail-branded kits and components, such as the Lynx and Whale, as well as something called Spider Monkey, which works with the MonkeyTail, but we only had a chance to spend some time with the $80 TabletTail MonkeyTail. Confused yet? We'll admit that all the kits are too similarly named.
We're going to briefly review MonkeyTail and whether it's worth your time and money rather than discuss the quality of Octa's kit names. The company said it's best used as an iPad stand for bed, on the couch or desk, and even under your leg as a lap stand. Octa is clearly targeting Apple devices, though we think any flat-backed tablet would work.
When you first take MonkeyTail out of the box, you'll need to assemble it. The package includes a black and silver Vacuum Dock, which is a 3.5 inches in diameter suction cup made of rubber and hard plastic, and a 36-inch flexible arm called the MonkeyTail. It's sort of like a metal gooseneck but cloaked in a black, smooth rubber material.
The Vacuum Dock and MonkeyTail fit together via a metal-based locking system that's easy to learn and feels secure once assembled. We never felt like the two pieces were going to come apart. Once you're done combining the two, you can attach your iPad to the Vacuum Dock and start using the entire kit as a tablet stand.
The Vacuum Dock is too large to fit a smartphone, but it's perfect for tablets like the iPad Mini or a full-sized iPad. We paired it with an iPad Mini by placing the clean back of our tablet against the Vacuum Dock's suction cup, and then we repeatedly pressed a silver button on the Vacuum Dock to suck away any air and create a pressurised seal.
Although Octa recommended pressing the silver button a bunch of times, we don't think you'll ever need to do more than two or three pumps. You'll feel the iPad firmly secure to the TabletTail MonkeyTail almost instantly, as long as you make sure the tablet is not in a case and has a completely flat and clean surface for the suction cup system.
Octa said flat-backed cases would also work, though we didn't try any during our hands-on review. We did however try to morph the stiff MonkeyTail to fit a variety of situations. This is where we ran into some hiccups. Let's just say you should consider the types of furniture you own before shelling out money on the TabletTail MonkeyTail.
We own a platform bed, for instance, meaning the MonkeyTail couldn't wedge underneath the mattress like it should with a traditional bed. We therefore bent the weighty tail in an S-shaped curve and placed it on the surface of our bed. It held our iPad Mini about a foot off the bed, or at eye-level, depending on how we maneuvered the screen's orientation.
Next...we tried our mid-century-styled sofa. It has no deep spaces between the cushions, making it - once again - difficult to find a place for the MonkeyTail to fit. We were able to barely squeeze it into the sides of our couch, where it held its position, but the shallow space wasn't firm enough and permitted shaking during interactions with the tablet.
During this scenario, we could only use our iPad for video-viewing or other passive purposes. We then tried to look around and find a bar or a pole to wrap the MonkeyTail around, since that's what Octa suggests, but we found the device couldn't hold a shaper tighter than a 6-inch diameter. We got it to work around our staircase railing though.
In other words: the TabletTail MonkeyTail is best used on a flat surface, much like a typical iPad stand for desks. We really like the idea of MonkeyTail but didn't have many places to actually use it. It's a device in which you need a specific purpose in mind before you should even consider buying it, and if you do, you won't be disappointed.
Remember that $80 ($39.99 for the Vacuum Dock and $39.99 for the MonkeyTail) isn't a bad price either, especially for a just-in-case type of tablet stand. We think Octa's TabletTail MonkeyTail looks and feels like a high-quality stand. We're only upset about hardly getting to use it.