Tablet holders - why?
Recently, I've been transitioning from paper to electronic sheet music.
The compositions on this site are obviously electronic PDFs, and I of course use them when I shoot videos for YouTube, but that's not all. It's also very handy to have all my teaching material available to me all the time on my tablet, wherever I am. For example, when a guitar student forgets to bring his or her sheet music to a lesson (not an uncommon occurrence), that doesn't cause a problem. The lesson can go on normally, because I've got the necessary sheet music with me.
The most natural way to read PDF sheet music is a tablet computer, and so I need to have a device to hold my tablet. Fortunately, many others have adapted to this new technology before me, and there are many kinds of tablet holders available for me to choose from. In this review, I'll take a closer look at König & Meyer's 19740 Tablet PC holder (top right in above picture) and 19724 iPad Air holder (bottom left).
Ebay is brimming with many kinds of inexpensive tablet holders. Why then have I chosen to buy these relatively expensive K&M ones?
Well, I have one of those Ebay ones, and it doesn't really stand comparison. The Ebay holder is cheap, light, flimsy, cumbersome to adjust and use - not really something you can trust to do its job, and definitely not for professional use.
Another reason is that none of those Ebay holders is designed for musicians, and their attachment methods don't really work well in a musical performance environment. They are more suited to car navigation use and such.
Like I said, these K&M holder are pricey: 40-50 euros. That's rather a lot, I think, and we'll discuss whether you get what you paid for.
The units arrive in a sizable boxes. At first, the boxes seem a bit too big to include only a tablet holder, but upon unboxing, you see why: these holders are very sturdy, in fact almost ridiculously so. It's both a good and a bad thing. While these holders will probably withstand a lot of use and perhaps even abuse, they are also quite heavy. The universal model weighs 790 grams, while the iPad Air specific model is a little less, 650 grams. That right there is maybe the most compelling reason to choose one over the other - if you happen own an iPad Air. The Air model won't fit any other model.
Props for a Batman movie?
Both tablet holders are a bit bulky and there's definitely a certain mechanical-macho-machinery-look to them both, somehow reminiscent of the art design in the latest Christopher Nolan Batman movies . And although the iPad Air model has been designed only for that particular tablet and doesn't work with any other, it really doesn't show very clearly in the design; it isn't more svelte or graceful or even smaller. It does hold an iPad extremely securely, though.
Seen here from the audiences perspective, both holders look neutral enough, I think. I certainly wouldn't have any problems performing with these holders, they look very professional to me. They really are well-built and well put together. K&M themselves seem to think so, because they guarantee them for five years!
With the swing arm or without?
Both of these tablet holders can also be used without the extension arm. Removing the arm saves a lot of weight and arguably also makes the holders look better, more elegant and less intimidating. Fortunately, with both holders, you still retain their ability to swivel to horizontal and vertical positions and tilt up and down. Of course, with the swing arm you lose some adjustability and, perhaps more importantly, you will need a mic stand just for the tablet. That's right: without the arm, the holder screws right onto the threads of a microphone stand. Very handy indeed!
In fact you can buy these holders without the swing arms, models 19714 iPad Air stand holder and 19742 Tablet PC stand holder. I don't think it's a good idea to save here: the arm does add flexibility and mounting options. Definitely get a holder WITH the arm! You don't have to use it, but it will probably come in handy.
The universal model (in the image above) also features an extra bracket, seen attached in the bottom right of the picture. I didn't feel any need to actually use it: the holder hold my tablet securely enough even without it. The sides of the tablet holder are spring-loaded and will squeeze the tablet gently but firmly. They are also adjustable and will fit the width of most tablets: the range is 120mm to 220mm. But should you feel you need the extra security, the bracket is there for you.
As a side point, the difference between different models of tablets can be pretty big. The image above (8.4 inch vs 10.1 inch) isn't even nearly the most extreme case, since there are 7-inch and 12-inch models available. I'd love to have a 20-inch model with a 4K screen! That raises yet another point: sadly, none of these holders is really future proof.
Currently I'm using the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro tablet on top, which is 8.4 inches: very high quality screen, but barely big enough to read music from. The iPad in the picture is my wife's.
Both these holders are excellent, even if they are a bit heavy and pricey. I can recommend them both, but I don't really see a reason to get the special model made for iPad Air: I think the universal model is almost as good, and it will probably still be serving you well years from now, when your iPad has already been recycled several times - remember the five-year guarantee!
A quick poll:
Edited February 15th 2015: typo fixes.