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The Best Stand for the iPad 3 Is Also a Case: the ZeroChroma Vario-SC (Review with Video)

I’ve tried several stands for the iPad and they’ve all pretty much ended up collecting dust. The problem with most iPad stands is lack of versatility—not enough viewing angles and they’re a hassle to lug around. So why spend 50 bucks on a stand that will mostly sit on your desk and rarely be used? That’s why ZeroChroma makes my favorite stand for the iPad. Except the ZeroChroma isn’t just a stand, it’s also a case.

The first thing I did when I got my new iPad was order the ZeroChroma Vario-SC case, which has a sweet built-in rotating stand. The stand can rotate 360 degrees and hold up the iPad in 10 different angles in portrait, landscape, or anything in between. I have used similar ZeroChroma cases with the iPhone 4 and the first iPad and have loved the added functionality the built-in stands bring to the devices. You’ve got to love an accessory that makes a powerfully useful device even more useful. The ZeroChroma Vario-SC is also compatible with Apple’s Smart Cover, hence the “SC” in its name.

Video Review:

Text Review:

The Stand. The ZeroChroma’s stand is attached to a circular piece of hard plastic that can be rotated 360 degrees. The fact that it rotates comes in handy more than you think, as you can use the stand not only on desks and tables, but also on uneven surfaces like a couch, bed, or pillow.

The stand itself is a hard piece of plastic with two rubber-covered tips. To use the stand, you pull it out with your finger. The stand “clicks” into 10 different angles (ZeroChroma says 11, but I counted 10). The stand is sturdy enough to hold up the weight of the iPad as well as a reasonable amount of pressure from finger taps. Of course, if you apply enough pressure, the stand will collapse, but for general use it’s fine.

Overall, the stand is awesome—the best I’ve ever used thanks to how versatile it is and the fact that it’s always there. Knowing that I can always have the iPad propped up at just the right angle has made me more likely to use the iPad for a variety of tasks, whether it’s propping up the iPad on a seat tray on an airplane or in the kitchen for using the iPad as a cookbook. Whenever I need to prop up the iPad, it’s just there. And at any angle I choose.

Smart Cover. The ZeroChroma is compatible with Apple’s Smart Cover. Both can be attached at the same time. The duo makes a good team, with the ZeroChroma protecting the rear and the Smart Cover the front. And of course you get all the Smart Cover’s benefits (auto-shutoff of the iPad’s screen when you close the cover and the microfiber interior which cleans the screen) in addition to the ZeroChroma’s stand. That’s a lot added functionality.

I did experience a few awkward moments where the Smart Cover interfered with using the ZeroChroma’s stand. Usually I could figure out a way to fold the Smart Cover so that it didn’t get in the way. But most of the time I found it best to temporarily remove the Smart Cover altogether instead of bothering with it.

There is one trick the where the ZeroChroma’s stand and Smart Cover work together to create a “laptop.” If you’re sitting on a chair without a surface to place the iPad on, you can lay the Smart Cover across your lap and prop up the iPad with the ZeroChroma’s stand, all without removing either accessory. I never liked using a laptop on my lap much less the iPad, but it’s nice to have the option.

Materials: Hard Plastic With Soft Plastic When the ZeroChroma isn’t on the iPad, it actually feels thin and kind of flimsy. Most of the case is made of a bendable soft plastic. The case is of the slip-on variety: you slip the case around the edges and corners of the iPad.

The stand section of the case, which includes the circular rotating part and the stand itself, is made of a hard plastic.

Protection? Simply put, the ZeroChroma is not a great case for protection against accidental drops. It’s much too thin to provide any but the smallest amount of shock absorption. Even with the Smart Cover, there’s not much protection there for accidental drops. The duo does, however, provide excellent total protection for other kinds of wear and tear (scratches and scrapes).

Grip. The manufacturer describes the ZeroChroma Vario-SC as being made of “Super-Grip” material. If by “Super-Grip” they mean the case is nearly as slippery as a naked iPad, then yes, you could call it that.

The only really benefit the case provides in this area is that the slightly textured plastic makes the iPad feel a little more comfortable in the hand. I’m not a fan of the new iPad’s sharp edges and cold metal backing, so any sort of material other than metal makes it feel more comfortable to hold.

Small complaints. The case does have a few other minor flaws. It’s a somewhat ugly case, with part of its rim missing to make room for the Smart Cover to be attached. And the protruding circular area for the stand is an awkward eyesore. The matte black color helps hide some of that awkwardness.

I also noticed that sides of the ZeroChroma did not fit as snug as I’d like and would occasionally slip off and have to be tucked back on. This problem is mostly due to the bendable plastic and not that the case is too big. I should clarify that the case itself doesn’t come off, just the side rims will bend so that they slip under the iPad’s sides.

Gallery:

Review Summary

This is actually the third ZeroChroma product I’ve owned. I’ve had their ZeroChroma Teatro for iPhone 4 and the ZeroChroma for the first iPad. So I’ve had years of experience using their case/stand combo (the stand design hasn’t changed much) and have found the added functionality so useful, it was the first thing I bought for my new iPad 3. I won’t say it’s a perfect case. It doesn’t provide great protection, and it’s not a great-looking case. It is, however, the best stand you can buy for the iPad.

Pros:

  • Best, most useful stand for the iPad I’ve come across.
  • Rotating stand means you can hold up the iPad at almost any angle.
  • Compatible with Apple’s Smart Cover.
  • Stand is always there when you need it.

Cons:

  • Not a great case for protection—not much shock absorption.
  • Kind of ugly.
  • Rim of case can occasionally become loose and tucked under iPad’s sides.
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