Five dirt-cheap iPad stands

Whoopsie, Apple, you forgot to build in a kickstand. Fortunately, there are many cheap (and even free) ways to prop up an iPad.

Apple wants how much for the portrait-orientation-only iPad Dock? $29? Sorry, but I'm tapped out after spending $500 on the iPad itself. What do you have in the $5-$10 range?

Nothing, of course. (Does Apple sell anything in the $5-$10 range?) Fortunately, if all you want to do is prop up your iPad for movie viewing, recipe reading, photo slideshow-ing, or whatever, you can buy or build a perfectly good stand for cheap. These five candidates cost anywhere from nothing to around $7. Take a look:

1. Think the kids will miss a handful of Tinkertoys? If not, do like Ramin Firoozye and whip together a simple, sturdy stand using just a dozen or so parts. Total cost: $0.

Raid the kids' Tinkertoys bin for some iPad-stand parts. Ramin Firoozye

2. In that same vein, Lego whiz Jeff Eaton built a slick-looking iPad stand he calls the MkII. The angled uprights look a bit tricky to me, but I'm sure anyone in possession of a box of bricks can whip up something similar.

Anyone adept with LEGO can craft a sturdy iPad stand without spending a penny. Jeff Eaton

3. A simple book stand (sometimes known as a study stand) can pull double duty as an iPad holder. has the Fellowes Study Stand for just $4.99 shipped. It's made of steel and has rubber tips to avoid scratching your tabletop--or iPad.

4. Know what else works well as a poor man's iPad stand? An easel, like the kind that display framed photos. Bed Bath & Beyond has a clear, folding easel for $5.99 (plus sales tax in most states, and plus shipping if you don't have a store near you).

5. One of the first third-party stands made especially for the iPad, the all-wood Groovy Stand is, well, groovy! It's available in three colors--brown, black, and natural--and sells for $6.95 (plus around $3 for shipping). You can see it "in action" below:

Admittedly, these options don't dock or recharge your iPad, but most of them leave room for you to easily plug in your charge/sync cable.

Have you found a good, inexpensive iPad stand or used your MacGyver skills to engineer one? If so, tell me all about it in the comments--and be sure to include links to your photos!

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