The advent of cheap and small-batch manufacturing has allowed many new brands to start and flourish. But with that has come the added competition in nearly any consumer good category. And it’s hard to find a market more crowded than the iPhone and iPad accessory market. But while many brands are armed with the knowledge of just how much competition they will run into when bringing new products to market, not all of them know what to do about it.
Thankfully, some brands do know exactly what to do to stand out. It’s not rocket science. After all, it’s simply about making a superior product and letting its quality speak for itself. At its core, that’s the story of the Twelve South Hover Bar Duo. An iPad stand so good; I’m not sure why anyone would consider buying anything else.
Upon a first glance, if you didn’t know that the Hover Bar Duo is an iPad stand, you might mistake it for a modern LED desk lamp. Nearly every aspect of this product screams, “Hey, I’m a desk lamp.” And you’d be forgiven for thinking so. After all, many of its features, such as its sleek but low-profile base, alongside its one-colour minimalistic look and three primary points of articulation, all point in the direction of looking like a desk lamp.
The Hover Bar Duo’s components feature an all-black and all-matte look. This aesthetic is hard to pull off successfully, especially when trying to colour match between various materials such as plastic and aluminum. Thankfully, the Hover Bar Duo manages to pull off this look with flying colours.
The only discernible logo on the entire product is a nicely engraved AND tastefully small Twelve South logomark with a glossy plastic finish.
After opening your Hover Bar Duo box, you’ll find all the components and tools to help you assemble the stand. Here’s what’s in the box:
- Desk base with attached arm
- Two hex wrenches for adjustments at various joints
- iPad clip
- Shelf clamp
Materials & Quality
As previously mentioned, the Hover Bar Duo mixes aluminum, metal, and plastic. The core of the base is made of an unidentified metal, perhaps steel and is covered by a hard-plastic enclosure on all sides. The plastic section extends to the bottom of the base, albeit through a separate panel not connected to the top plastic. I can only speculate why Twelve South decided to go with a plastic cover for the base. I imagine it had something to do with durability, and keeping the aesthetics of powder-coated metal on a base that is likely to bump into things is a lot harder to do with metal than hard plastic.
The bottom of the base features four rubber feet. I wish more manufacturers would move to something more durable than gluing on thin rubber feet, as Twelve South has opted to do here. Too often, these feet tend to fall off over time and you are left with having to reglue it or using an object that will potentially scratch any surface you’re working on. None of this happened during my use of the Hover Bar Duo, but having tested enough consumer products, I wish for a better way to be adopted. One such way is cork feet, highlighted in my recent review of the Oakywood dual monitor stand.
The overall build quality of the Hover Bar Duo is excellent, tolerances are tight, and the quality of materials appears sturdy and solid. If there is one material design choice I question, it’s the use of plastic for the primary ballpoint joint.
Look, using a ballpoint joint is brilliant because it allows for nearly 360 degrees of articulated freedom. Still, it also tends to be a joint that experiences the most wear and tear, particularly at the point of tightening. I have experienced far too many products with plastic ballpoint joints breaking because of over-tightening or simple wear and tear. Perhaps this will never be an issue with the Hover Bar Duo, but I think a metal joint here would have improved long-term durability.
Usability & Features
The ingenious design of the Hover Bar Duo means that once you’ve attached your iPad or iPhone to the stand, you’ll be able then to position your device at nearly any angle you want. The stand is remarkably steady given its relatively small footprint of 7.25″ x 5.5″ and offers compatibility with every iPad and iPhone ever made, including the largest 12.9″ iPad Pro.
In my three months of regular use, I’ve found the Hover Bar Duo to be an excellent portable companion for lifting your iPad to a desirable height and angle. It has proved useful for various use cases both at my desk, in my kitchen and while doing photo shoots around various parts of my house. I have found it particularly useful to extend my dual-monitor setup by using Apple’s sidecar feature to add an extra screen for my Mac using my iPad pro sitting in the Hover Bar Duo stand.
Featuring three articulating hinges and swivel functionality, the Hover Bar Duo’s primary point of differentiation from its competitors is that the arm can fully extend to a height of 15 inches. This means it’s particularly adept for use while standing at a desk or table, point of retail, or at your kitchen counter. It also makes for an excellent stand for doing FaceTime or Zoom calls with or simply using it as a video recording or streaming device.
Each of the stand’s three joints serves a slightly different function in providing a full range of angles:
- Bottom Joint – Swivels up and down and horizontally side-to-side.
- Middle Joint – Sivels up and down.
- Top Joint – Ballpoint joint with 360-degree range.
Another excellent feature of the Hover Bar Duo is the ability of the stand to swivel down so that the bottom of the clamp is resting on the desk or work surface, providing a fantastic angle for using your Apple Pencil to sketch or write with.
Using the stand to change the orientation of your iPad from landscape to portrait and back again is as simple as simply holding the base down with one hand and twisting the iPad into your desired orientation.
Finally, the Hover Bar Duo’s designer thoughtfully included a groove on the stand that runs with the width of the base. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s a handy spot for your Apple Pencil to go as the usual magnetic attachment point will be covered by the stand’s clamp. It’s a small yet thoughtful feature that I grew to appreciate as I’m always misplacing my Apple Pencil.
The primary stand clamp also features holes on both sides, allowing you to pass through a USB-C charging cable, providing another intelligent point of functional design.
While I didn’t spend too much time with the shelf-clamp feature, which obviates the need for the weighted base, I did find it easy to set up and use. The clamp requires a few of the included tools but appears to be adjustable enough to clamp onto various width shelves. And don’t worry, there is plenty of silicone padding on both sides of the interior of the clamp to protect whatever shelf you’ll be clamping the Hover Bar duo to.
The only small point of content I had about the Hover Bar Duo’s functionality from a practical standpoint is that I wish the tightening knob on the ballpoint joint was about 20-30% larger to make it easier to tighten and subsequently loosen.
How it Compares to Other iPad Stands
There is a nearly limitless supply of iPad stands on the market. From the incredibly simple one-piece aluminum designs to more intricate articulating stands that more closely resemble the Hover Bar Duo. But looking across a fairly broad swath of them, I would say here are the Hover Bar Duo’s main points of differentiation:
- Better-looking than most stands
- More stable than most other articulating stands
- Taller than most iPad Stands
- Range of motion better than most iPad Stands
- Not as stable as one-piece designs
The Hover Bar Duo is an excellent choice for those looking to get a flexible, reliable and ultimately useful iPad stand without worrying whether it will support future iPad sizes. At some point in the past, Twelve South was selling this iPad stand for $129.99, which, at that price point, I’m not entirely sure whether I’d find it as compelling an offer as it is right now. Thankfully their current retail price of $79.99, along with free shipping in the U.S. and a one-year warranty, make the stand a no-brainer purchase for me.