For a long time, I’ve wanted a telescopic arm that would allow me to mount my iPad (mini) over my bed. There are a ton of such products out there, but because they’re all rather large and heavy, the already somewhat high price of most of them gets even higher by the time it’s shipped here to Norway and properly taxed. That’s why I jumped out of my chair when I came across this $35.80 mounting arm on DealExtreme a couple of weeks ago, seemingly offering exactly what I wanted for a fraction of the cost, and I immediately ordered one.
In the box/design
I’m glad DealExtreme ships thing for free, as this was quite a large and heavy package to pick up from the post office, compared to what I normally order from DealExtreme. Inside was the metal arm, mounting bracket, cell phone holder, and tablet holder. The arm and mounting bracket are metal, while the holders are plastic.
Unmodified arm, pictures from the product page. Shows stock single-ball joint setup, and the two included holders, none of which fit the mini well.
The arm itself is very similar to what you find on some desk lamps. It’s essentially four long metal rods operating in pairs to form each section of the arm, which stretches out to about a meter in length. The end piece inserts into a hole in the bracket, which has a vice-like feature to clamp it to a bed frame, tablet, or something like that. There are two adjustable screws to help tighten everything in place; one on the bracket, and one in the middle of the arm. There’s also one on the ball joint that holds the device holders, which allows you to adjust the end piece quite a bit. On top of that, four springs help make sure the arm stays in the position you move it to.
When extended fully, the arm is fairly straight. It folds together in more of a snake-like pattern, and won’t form a straight line with the bracket when folded together. At the end of the arm, there’s a metal mounting plate that attaches to either of the two device mounts that it comes with, and it even ha a couple of screws that helps- albeit using a rather crude method- to keep the holders in place.
The holders themselves unfortunately leave quite a gap in what devices are supported. Neither the widest grip of the phone holder nor the smallest grip of the tablet holder were able to hold my iPad mini properly, which meant I had to modify the thing a bit. Luckily, the ball joint was practically identical to a tripod ball joint I had lying around, with the balls in each being interchangeable. I moved the ball with the tripod screw over to the arm, which meant that I could attach the tripod nut-equipped holder I have for my mini onto the arm. I’ve previously talked about the benefits of making accessories work with one another using tripod screws and nuts, and this is a prime example of how I was able to adapt a new accessory to be compatible with my existing gear in mere minutes.
My modified arm, showing dual ball joints and tripod screw mounting system, custom iPad mini holder
I also put another ball joint in between the holder and the one on the arm, giving me two in total. I find that to be an absolute necessity to get a full range of positions out of this arm, and that modification is the only thing that allows me to twist my iPad mini back with the screen pointing the same way the arm stretches from.
Point being, without the skills and parts to modify this, the arm won’t be half as useful as it can be.
Honestly, this is probably one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. I mounted the arm to a table beside my bed, allowing me to stretch the arm out to hold the iPad mini right over my head while lying on my back. It’s a ridiculously comfortable way to watch a TV episode or two, though the danger is that you don’t want to ever get out of bed.
I use the setup together with a remote PC app on my iPad mini, allowing me to use the iPad as a wireless display for my PC, giving me access to everything the PC has access to. I’ve already watched a couple of full charges worth of video this way, and while it’s as lazy as can be, it’s also quite awesome.
The arm is very sturdy for the task, and has absolutely no problems holding the iPad mini. It’s designed for larger tablets, and while I don’t have any to test with, I imagine it would do fine with your average ~600 gram tablet, i.e. most 10-inch tablets that don’t run Windows. Because it needs to be able to hold such devices though, it does require a bit of force to move into place, but that’s natural.
One complaint I have is that the connection between the mounting bracket and the arm isn’t all that secure. The arm isn’t connected to the bracket in any other way than a metal rod going into a metal tube, with an adjustable screw to hold it it place from the side. However, screwing it into place means it won’t rotate, which means you very quickly leave it to gravity to keep it in there. A much better solution would be to have a screw coming up from underneath to lock the arm to the bracket while still allowing it to rotate in the socket.
Also, like I said, I added a second ball joint to mine to make it more flexible. The stock arm won’t let the device rotate back on itself, which is basically the only way I’ve used it. Without that modification, the arm essentially needs to be mounted above you or in front of you, whereas I keep mine mounted below me and off to my side.
I love this arm. For $36 you get a high quality bed/tablet/whatever mount for your tablet, and one that has quality far beyond the price point in my opinion. It especially pays off if you live in expensive countries, and I reckon this came in at about 1/4 what I would have had to pay for any other such setup, once taxes and shipping were taken in to account.
I would highly recommend doing some modifications to it though, because if you do, you get something that’s even more versatile. For the price, you can afford tinkering with it a bit, and still come off paying much less than you would for similar products locally. The most straight forward way to do just that would be to pick up a cheap (as in, a few dollars) hard case on eBay, and simply glue that to one of the holders that comes with the arm. That way you get something form fitted to your device, which tends to pay off during use.
If you want something that works out of the box though, you might have to look elsewhere for devices in the 7-inch range, or at the very least be prepared to mount the device sideways in the large device holder- which is a less secure way of mounting it.
I’m giving this product 4/5 stars, because even though there are very specific things that could be better with it, it does cost much less than similar products, so it’s a great buy either way. You can get one from DealExtreme for $35.80 with free worldwide shipping.