The Satechi Aluminum Stand & Hub turns your iPad into a useful desktop. Not only does it prop up your tablet, it includes six useful ports. And it goes almost anywhere, from a meeting room to a coffee shop.
I’ve used the tablet stand for weeks, including on a recent vacation. Here’s why I love it… despite a limitation or two.
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Satechi Aluminum Stand & Hub for iPad Pro review
A 12.9-inch iPad Pro is my primary computer in the office and on the go. I spend the workday writing articles on it and posting them to Cult of Mac. And the Satechi Aluminum Stand & Hub fit immediately into my workflow.
Its aluminium casing lets it hold the iPad solidly, while padding prevents scratches to the tablet. And the array of ports — USB-A, HDMI, and more — are the ones I use the most.
Plus, I took this accessory on vacation to see how well it handed more demanding situations. Its fold-up design let it pass with flying colors.
Hardware and design
The Satechi Aluminum Stand & Hub starts folded into a block that’s 5.1 inches by 4.2 in. by 0.9 in. It’s not exactly pocketable, but fits easily into any backpack or even a large purse.
The color matches a space grey iPad, with the exterior offering some curved edges and all corners rounded. It’s comfortable to hold.
It’s portable, but the design also means it takes up little room in a drawer. The stand/hub is a good alternative for a home office that has to come and go from your kitchen table.
Flip the accessory open and it becomes a stand that firmly holds an iPad Pro or iPad Air. Unlike with some tablet stands, here’s no wiggling when the computer’s screen is tapped. It’s solid.
In landscape mode, my 12.9-inch iPad Pro is held at 120 degrees (30 degrees past vertical.) That’s a useful angle for watching video or accessing the web. But one of the few limitations in Satechi’s accessory is there’s no adjusting it — you get the angle you get.
The stand also solidly holds my tablet in portrait mode, if that’s your thing.
Based on my experience on vacation, the stand makes typing on the screen possible but not particularly comfortable. If you’re thinking about doing lots of writing from a coffee shop, you’ll probably need an external keyboard. You can choose a wireless one, or hook up any USB keyboard through the hub.
I tested the Aluminum Stand & Hub with my iPad Pro, and it supports Windows and Android tablets as well. They just need to be less than 0.5 inches thick and use a USB-C port.
Satechi designed the peripheral so the ports are easily accessible for an iPad held in the cradle, but that’s not the only option. Connect the cable to a MacBook, or another computer with a USB-C port, and it can access the ports just as easily.
The hub connects to the computer via a USB-C connector on a 7-inch cable. The cable fits into a covered slot when on the go.
On the back of the Satechi Aluminum Stand & Hub is its lineup of ports. I tested all of these when trying out the product.
Its HDMI port offers 4K at 60Hz. That’s better than many rivals, that top out at 4K and 30Hz. The result is smoother, better looking video.
A USB-A port allows legacy accessories to be connected. I tested it with a mouse, keyboard and both performed flawlessly. With a thumbdrive, I transferred a 1GB test file from the iPad to the USB drive in 11 seconds, and transferred it the other direction in 81 secs. Not particularly quick, but fast enough to be useful. The drawback of the single USB-A port is you’ll need a USB-A hub to connect to several accessories at once. But at least these hubs definitely work.
A USB-C port is for charging your tablet while using other accessories. You can plug in the Satechi Aluminum Stand & Hub and it’ll keep your iPad juiced up. This USB-C PD charging port supports up to 60 watts, but no data at all. It is power only — I checked.
… and other connections
The 3.5mm audio jack lets you connect your tablet to speakers to listen to music while you work. It supports microphones, too. And I confirmed it doesn’t take over the iPad’s audio if there are no speakers plugged in.
The Satechi stand includes both SD and microSD card readers. But you can’t use them both at the same time. The hub reads whichever one is plugged in first. In my tests, copying a 1GB test file from a microSD card to an iPad took 25 seconds, while copying the same file to the removable card took 110 secs. That’s slow but usable.
I also tested the ports in various combinations. I copied files from an SD card to a thumbdrive, for example. And I pulled a video from a thumbdrive and watched it on an external display. I encountered no problems.
Satechi Aluminum Stand & Hub final thoughts
I love gadgets that do two things at once. If they do them well, of course. Fortunately, the Satechi Aluminum Stand & Hub is a both a stable iPad stand and a useful multiport hub.
The product is available now on the Satechi website. The price is $99.99.
Or it’s available from Amazon for the same price.
The Maotoam Pro ($119) is a rival stand and hub with no less than 13 ports. It’s usable for iPad and MacBook, but is much bulkier.