I’ve been using the Compass 2 in lieu of a Smart Cover for a few weeks now, and I’m impressed with how versatile this metal stand has turned out to be. TwelveSouth’s take on an iPad stand offers the usual bag of tricks — portrait and landscape viewing, and a flatter angle for typing — but the difference is how this little stand stays so compact.
I imagine the term easel was likely thrown around during the marketing phase of this product. When the iPad sits back in this stand with the Paper app loaded up, it’s reminiscent of canvas on an easel. However, “Compass” is still a great name for this product, given the way it folds out like the mathematical instruments I used in high school: two legs swing out horizontally, and an extra leg folds backwards to help form a stable platform. Each leg on the Compass has a sort of foot, which folds out to help hold the iPad up.
The Compass lies flat when folded up, and feels surprisingly hefty in the hand (which is good: you want some weight in a stand). If I’m setting up to do some reading or watching, I’ll pull the Compass’ lower legs apart, flick out the small feet along the bottom, and then fold the rear leg out. In this upright position, the iPad Air can be set in portrait and landscape mode, and it’s stable enough for even clumsy use at a distance (e.g. when I’m cutting veggies in the kitchen and want to scroll down to see more of a recipe).
The killer feature, and the main reason I wanted to review a Compass 2, is the typing stand. If you keep the front two legs opened, but simply flick out the “foot” of the rear leg, you end up with a slightly raised platform on which to place your iPad. The angle is steeper than the one offered by the Smart Cover, but more importantly, it sets the iPad higher off of the table. I find this to be the deciding factor for comfort with iPad typing stands, and the Compass 2 nails it. It’s far more comfortable to type for extended periods in this mode because my wrists aren’t tilted up into an awkward angle for keystrokes, and I can more easily rest my hands along the sides of the tablet while I stop to think or read.
I know TwelveSouth to make some quality products, so I was surprised to see that the first Compass 2 I received had a manufacturing defect with the left “foot”, which made it stiff and very difficult to operate. I reported this to TwelveSouth and they sent out an immediate replacement, which also gave me a chance to photograph the black version of the Compass. This second Compass works perfectly, but it did have a small chunk of paint fall off the rear foot the very first time I used it. This doesn’t affect performance and it’s actually hidden most of the time, but if I were a customer, it would have been disappointing to have the Compass damaged on day one. I’m confident TwelveSouth would do what they could to help any customer this would happen to, but it still deserved mention.
The Compass 2 is a stand that’s as classy as the iPad Air. It’s a heftier option than most iPad covers and cases, but having a separate stand means that your iPad isn’t weighed down by a case when you don’t need one. It’s also very handy to have a Compass stand in messier environments, like kitchen counters or the picnic bench featured in my pictures. For $40, the Compass 2 makes for a good alternative to Apple’s own Smart Cover, and despite the hitches I experienced with my unit, I’ve had enough experience with TwelveSouth as a customer to recommend their awesome little iPad stand.
Disclosure: This accessory was provided by TwelveSouth for review on the site. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.