Most of us have used an iPad or other tablet device for work, reading e-books, watching movies or surfing the web. We’ve all struggled with finding a good way to hold your device at the proper angle for viewing content. There’s also the important issue of how to support the tablet in such a way that your hands are free to type or use the touch-sensitive screen.
The people at Octa have created the innovative modular TabletTail System that addresses all these issues in a novel fashion. It’s an entire system of components that can be used in a variety of combinations to adapt to a wide range of user experiences when using large mobile devices.
Octa developed a practical – and amazingly flexible – solution to properly supporting tablets for writing, reading and viewing content. They cleverly designed a series of components that can be combined in a multitude of ways using the same common locking connector.
The system is based on just a few key building blocks: a vacuum activated dock, an adjustable tablet holder, and several types of flexible “arms” that attach to the dock or an optional mounting clip. These can be combined to create many configurations to meet your specific needs.
The system can bring your tablet to eye-level, providing hands-free comfort while you recline. You can also rotate your screen for the perfect viewing angle. The TabletTail components can attach your tablet to desks, tables, bicycles, wheelchairs, fences, auto headrests or even a couch.
The viewing experience can range from a single user siting in a chair to a small group gathered around the tablet viewing from a short distance. The TabletTail’s portability allows you to use the system at home, in a hotel room, classroom or when speaking from a podium.
Tablet Stand Components
Here are the components of the TabletTail System:
The Vacuum Dock uses a strong vacuum suction plate to attach to any smooth surface – from the back of a tablet to a horizontal or vertical surface. When connected to the back of a tablet it can function as stand all by itself, or connected to the adjustable WhaleTail. When connected to a Bridge, it can also be used as a portable desk mount that can be removed and relocated in seconds.
It can be attached to desks, tables, mirrors, or any other stable surface with a smooth finish. Over time, the Vacuum Dock can lose suction, at rates depending on the type of surface it’s mounted to. Conveniently, the silver button on the side visually indicates the suction pressure. Simply giving it another pump will re-establish a firm grip.
The Vacuum Dock ($39.99) works with the Spider and the Bridge, and is available separately or as part of the Whale Kit.
The Spider is an adjustable universal tablet holder with sides that ratchet shut to hold virtually any iPad, e-reader, or Android and Microsoft tablet securely. Use the Spider on any tablet, large or small, The compact holder can accommodate devices with or without a case attached. The device’s “fingers” can be operated with a single button.
The Spider is at the core of the TabletTail system. It can be connected to other modular components to create customized tablet stands.
The Spider ($40.00) works with the MonkeyTail, the WhaleTail, and the Bridge. You can purchase the Spider separately, or in the Spider Monkey and Lynx Kits.
A new, Large Spider (also $40.00) was introduced this year in November to accommodate larger tablets now on the market such as the iPad Pro. A list of tablets that can use either the Small or Large Spider can be found on the Spider page of the Octa Website. Click on the “Specs” tab to see details.
The Bridge is a short flexible column that can connect multiple TabletTail components to one another. This fully adjustable extension bends and rotates 360° on both ends.
You can connect a Spider holder to one end of the Bridge to create an easy-to-grip handle that doubles as a tablet stand. Attach a Clamp, Vacuum Dock, or Wall Mount to the other end to create configurations to hold the tablet in a variety of ways to meet different uses.
The Bridge ($20.00) is available on its own or as part of the Lynx Kit.
The WhaleTail is a compact flexible stand that doubles as a comfortable handle to hold the tablet in one hand. Its aluminum fins and tail adjust to a variety of typing and viewing angles. It’s flexible and can adjust to your hand for a convenient, secure grip on your tablet while standing or on the go.
The fins can also be bent to the contours of your leg as a comfortable lap stand. Adjust its height and angle to create a convenient desk stand. The WhaleTail easily holds your tablet stable on soft or uneven surfaces.
The WhaleTail ($19.99) attaches to connector on the Spider or vacuum dock to securely support your tablet. The WhaleTail is a part of the Whale Kit.
The long and flexible MonkeyTail is constructed with a strong, segmented steel skeleton that you can bend, wind, or wedge into place.
You can use the MonkeyTail as an iPad stand while reclining in bed, as a tablet stand on the couch, set atop a desk, or even as a secure laptop stand by tucking the tail under your legs.
The MonkeyTail ($39.99) attaches to the Vacuum Dock or the Spider, and is included in the Spider Monkey Kit
The Clamp is a pocket-sized tablet mount that securely connects to flat, round, or irregular surfaces. Its steel and fiberglass jaws quickly ratchet into place. The no-slip, Clamp can hold your tablet vertically, horizontally, or at any angle.
The Clamp can be used as a kitchen or cabinet mount, for hands-free access while consulting recipes as you prepare food. The versatile Clamp can connect to a music stand, tripod, table, treadmill, hammock or high chair.
The Clamp ($39.99) connects to the Bridge, and is included in the Lynx Kit.
The small Wall Mount attaches easily to walls and furniture throughout your home, or office. You can use it as a table mount, a desk stand, or a kitchen cabinet mount. Attach the mount to a wall to function as an ergonomic standing desk.
The Wall Mount ($12.99) is sold separately, and works with the Spider and the Bridge, (which are both included in the Lynx Kit).
Support System Connectors
A connector receptor can be found on the backs of the Vacuum Dock and Spider, as well as the top of the Clamp. The WhaleTail, MonkeyTail, and Bridge securely clip into these components to build the support system of your choice.
The Bridge has locking connectors at both ends to join two components together, such as a Clamp on one end of the Bridge and a Vaccum Dock or Spider on the other. The MonkeyTail is essentially a very long Bridge with a connector on only one end.
The TabletTail components can be purchased in “Kits” that group key pieces that work together to create a complete tablet support solution.
The “Lynx” Kit includes a Spider to connect to the tablet, as well as a bridge and a clamp for attaching to poles, table edges or other vertical or horizontal mounting locations. The Lynx kit retails for $99.99.
The “Spider Monkey” Kit combines a Monkey Tail with the Spider connector and retails for $79.99.
The “Whale” Kit combines a Vacuum Dock with a Whale Tail and retails for $39.99.
iPad Stand Practicality and Use
The components come with straightforward directions with clear diagrams that illustrate how they connect. The connectors that join the various components lock in place by turning an integrated collar about 90 degrees from the “open” marked position to the “locked” marked position. This attachment has a very solid feel and creates a secure connection of one component to another.
In my experience it did take a while to familiarize myself with the various components and how they work together to create a support system that meets one’s own needs. As you take pieces apart and re-join them a few times, the process becomes much faster. In practice, assembly isn’t a significant issue, since you don’t often change the configuration you find works best – in fact, you’ll only need one or two configurations most of the time.
The solid construction, precision machined parts and quality materials all contribute to a durable mobile support system. The TabletTail is also more substantial than many other competing products that we’ve tested that use cheap materials, are flimsy or unstable when placed on a work surface.
Octa Tablet Stand System Availability
Considering the quality of the system, the Octa TabletTail is a reasonably priced system when compared to other tablet support systems we’ve tried. It makes sense to purchase the system in a “kit” that combines a support with a connector. You’ll then be able to use the system right out of the box, and can add other components when the need arises.
You can purchase the TabletTail system online from Amazon, Adorama, Walmart as well as from Octa (www.Octa.com) directly. TabletTail products are also carried by retailers such as B&H Photo, Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, and Sam Ash.
All photos in this review are by Ray Gordon.