I reviewed Satechi’s Aluminum Desktop Stand back in April of this year and came away very impressed. That product is a heavy-duty stand that is highly adjustable, works with pretty much any mobile device, and is a great addition to any tablet user’s desktop setup. Because of the quality of that product, I was intrigued and immediately interested when I saw the announcement for Satechi’s new Aluminum Stand and Hub for iPad Pro a couple of months ago.
Satechi was once again kind enough to send me a unit to review, which I have been testing out over the last three weeks. While it is a very different product from their Aluminum Desktop Stand, I’ve been similarly impressed with it, overall. Here’s a closer look at what I found.
Standing on its own
While Satechi’s Aluminum Desktop Stand was weighty and substantial, their Aluminum Stand and Hub is much lighter in comparison. That’s because, while the top and sides are covered in aluminum, the interior and bottom are plastic.
The lighter weight isn’t a problem in the case of this stand and hub because, unlike Satechi’s other stand that allows for all kinds of angles and positions, this one only offers one possible position when opened up.
More on that in a moment.
Also, while the Aluminum Desktop Stand is designed to leave on a desktop, the Aluminum Stand and Hub’s weight and overall design are geared toward mobility and use on the go. Not only is it light enough to carry around in a bag, but it also folds up into a very compact shape that is perfect for travel, as seen in the photos above.
I would personally recommend carrying the Aluminum Stand and Hub in a lightweight bag of some kind to keep the aluminum exterior from picking up scratches, but this combo device is definitely designed for use on the go.
The cradle portion of this stand and hub folds up from the bottom thanks to a hinge on the front of the device and locks into place for use holding your iPad.
It just as easily folds back and stays securely set underneath the hub when closed.
One interesting thing about opening and closing the stand portion of the Aluminum Stand and Hub is that the hinge locks in six different positions, two of which are completely open for use as a stand and closed. The other four are not for use and are just midpoints between open and closed. The result of this is that the hinge on the Aluminum Stand and Hub does not offer any kind of positional versatility. It is meant to either be open or closed, and that’s it.
Once it is opened up, this stand holds my 12.9″ iPad Pro securely and without issues.
I’ve never felt like the Aluminum Stand and Hub could tip over or my iPad Pro could fall off. If it can hold this largest and heaviest of iPads without issue, then it will be fine holding smaller ones, as well. Just be aware that, since this is a USB-C hub, it’s really only geared toward use with devices that have the same port, such as 2018 and newer iPad Pros and the latest iPad Air.
That said, Satechi did publish a list of other devices that are definitely compatible.
I tried it with my own Lenovo Chromebook Duo and had no issues with the stand or getting the USB-C Hub to work.
Also be aware of the fact that, while the Aluminum Stand and Hub can hold a 12.9” iPad Pro in portrait orientation, it’s not as stable as in landscape and there is also no way to use the USB-C hub in that configuration, either. Still, it’s good that it is possible if you need this in a pinch.
Design in action
I love it when I find elements of great design in a new accessory I’m reviewing. In the case of Satechi’s Aluminum Stand and Hub, I found that in its integrated USB-C cable. A common theme with USB-C hub cables is that they are often too short for easy use with an iPad Pro, which has its USC-C port midway up the side in landscape orientation.
However, that isn’t the case with this product. Not only that, but the designers at Satechi did a great job of fully integrating this cable into the design of the product.
As you can see above, the cable and connector fit perfectly in a curved track on the bottom of the Aluminum Stand and Hub. It stays securely hidden there until you need it. Then, it’s easily routed through a notch in one side of the stand and hub that allows you to use it while the product is open or closed.
The USB-C connector is also L-shaped, keeping the built-in cable close to the iPad while in use and making the connection to the iPad easy. This is a really nice touch.
A hub fit for an iPad Pro
There’s one sure fire way to tell if a USB-C hub was really designed with the iPad Pro or Air in mind. If it has a headphone jack built-in, then you know it’s not just a desktop hub rebranded to take advantage of recent additions to iPadOS and certain models.
Of course, that’s not all this hub has. You also get a 4K HDMI port, 1 USB-A Type 3 port, a USB-C Charging port and SD and MicroSD card slots. This is a basic USB-C hub, to be sure, but it covers all of the main connections that most iPad Pro users will be looking for in a relatively small and light package that will also hold your device.
However, one thing to note is that the Aluminum Stand and Hub doesn’t have to hold your device to be of use.
As I mentioned above, the built-in USB-C cable can be routed through the notch on the side, turning this product into a basic USB-C hub that can be used with the stand portion folded up. I really appreciate the fact that I can use the Aluminum Stand and Hub alone with my iPad Pro while it’s in a keyboard case, or with my laptop or other devices. With this being a product designed to take with you, this design choice makes perfect sense.
As for functionality, I tried all of the ports and had no issues with connectivity or use with any apps. I was able to transfer files without issue, charge my iPad Pro and listen to music without any problems.
Ideas for 2.0
I really like Satechi’s hybrid tablet stand and hub and plan on continuing to use it after this review. However, while version 1 is very good as it is, there are a three that I believe would elevate it from very good to great if a version 2 ever happens.
First off, all of the hub ports are currently on the back of the device, facing away from the iPad while it’s on the stand. Personally, I think real-world use would benefit from moving some of the ports to one side of the device. Namely, I think the card slots and headphone jack would make more sense there, as these are things users will be more apt to access during use, rather than just leave plugged in as long as the stand is set up.
Moving a couple of the ports to one side would also leave room for an additional USB-A port on the back of the hub. I often use one of these ports for external storage and another for charging other devices when using other USB-C hubs. It would be nice to have that option with this one, as well.
Lastly, while I appreciate the fact that the Aluminum Stand and Hub’s device cradle opens and closes securely, I would definitely suggest that Satechi add at least some positional flexibility in a future version. The angle they selected is well suited for desktop use and I haven’t had any issues with it. However, it is always good to have a little bit of flexibility to account for users with different preferences, as well as lighting conditions in various environments.
While I have a few modest suggestions for potential future improvements that could make this device even better, don’t get the wrong idea. Satechi’s Aluminum Stand and Hub is a very strong product as it stands today and is definitely an accessory I would recommend to others without reservation.
If you want a tablet stand and hub that will fit in a compact space, it’s a great combo of the two devices in a relatively small package. If you are looking for a combo stand and hub to take on the go, then you will be hard pressed to find anything better. There are a couple of stand-out design elements here and this product is also quite versatile.
As for pricing, when you look at what well-made USB-C hubs run and consider the total package that the Aluminum Stand and Hub brings to the table, the $99.99 price tag is perfectly reasonable in my opinion. If you think this combination tablet stand and USB-C hub will fit a need in your mobile life, then I definitely recommend giving it a shot.
The Aluminum Stand and Hub is available from Satechi for $99.99.
The Aluminum Stand and Hub were provided for review on iPad Insight by Satechi. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the About page.