This shoestring iPad Pro setup is both flexible and frugal [Setups]

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This might be the most unusual iPad Pro stand yet.
This might be the most unusual iPad Pro stand yet.
Photos: Craig Smith

For law teacher Craig Smith, working from home meant improvising. And the inexpensive but effective DIY setup he concocted throws together a couple of strange Apple bedfellows: He uses a vintage PowerBook G4 to elevate his main computer, an 11-inch iPad Pro.

“I needed a little more room to spread out and not feel claustrophobic,” Smith told Cult of Mac. “So, I moved my setup to the dining room table that seats six, as I have little need these days to use it as a spot to actually dine.”

That’s when he got creative with ergonomics and pressed his vintage PowerBook into service as an iPad stand.

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“Since I spend long spells seated at the table looking at the screen, I needed to find a way to elevate the iPad so I am not constantly looking down,” he said. “To give it the desired elevation boost, I modified a headset and tablet stand from Ikea by zip-tieing a tablet holder from the 99-cent store and a doorstop (to push the iPad out to the correct viewing angle). The result was still a shade lower than the optimum height so I slid my old 15-inch PowerBook G4 underneath the stand to give it another inch of elevation and the perfect viewing position.”

Take that, Jony Ive. Sometimes the absolute thinnest computer isn’t the best one for the job at hand.

Working with iPad Pro

Since he spends most of his time word processing, emailing and surfing the web for research, he says the 2018-era iPad Pro “is all the computer I need.” (While he doesn’t use the G4 any more — at least not in the usual way — it does still boot up, he said.)

He pairs the iPad Pro with a third-generation Apple Wireless Keyboard and a generic Bluetooth mouse for faux laptop action. And for teaching those Zoom classes that are all the rage during lockdown, he straps on a pair of Sony MDR-XB950BT Bluetooth headphones. And an inexpensive widget from Quirky keeps his cables organized.

It’s not the flashiest setup. Instead, it’s all about flexibility and getting the job done. And that’s why the iPad Pro proves key to Smith’s shoestring setup.

“I mostly use the iPad in landscape mode but can easily switch it to portrait mode when needed,” said Smith, who lives in Santa Barbara, California. “This all sits on top of a desk pad from Amazon. When I want to move away from the desk to work, I have the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro.”

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