Apple has created a monster. No, we're not talking about growing iPhone sales or the success of its imposing chain of retail stores. We're talking about the almost oppressively beautiful design of the product packaging and marketing of Apple products. In addition to the acclaimed look of Apple products themselves, their boxes and accompanying packaging border on the obsessive. Laptop boxes unfold gently and present fitted trays. iPhone boxes unfurl like Chinese puzzles.
It's no surprise, then, that Apple accessories have gotten in on the game, too. TwelveSouth's BookArc Desktop Stand for MacBooks promises a "cleaner, less cluttered Zen-like workspace" and that it can actually "boost the performance of your laptop." What it is, simply, is a laptop stand--a curved piece of metal that a MacBook can slot into like a piece of toast into a toast-rack. And that is it.
But, of course, it is a beautiful laptop stand. Made of matte, curved aluminum, it mirrors the materials of the unibody MacBooks almost to a T. Even more impressive, however, is the packaging. A white sleeve over a patterned oblong box opens to reveal the stand embedded in paper, as if in a jewel box. A brochure simply says "Thank You" and suggests ways to recycle the box (planting wheatgrass is one of the ideas offered). Taking the stand out of such packaging makes it feel like a prized object--a lesson learned well from Apple. Of course, this is also one of the more expensive laptop stands you're likely to buy, at $49.99. If you're looking to save a little money, you can always buy a six-pack of BookArcs for $249--provided you have enough laptops or Apple-toting friends to make it worth your while.
Fitted with three different removable silicone inserts in the middle slot, the BookArc can accommodate all the current MacBook Pros in Apple's lineup: 13-inch, 15-inch, 17-inch, plus Air, and even the basic white MacBook. However, in our home use, the fit wasn't as seamless as promised. Both a 17-inch and a 13-inch unibody MacBook Pro felt slightly loose using the recommended insert, wiggling back and forth instead of staying perfectly rigid. On our 13-inch, the magnetic lid kept popping open when fitting the laptop hinge-down, so we had to flip the machine over, resulting in an upside-down Apple logo on the side.
We also found that when carrying the stand home in a standard laptop shoulder bag, two of the silicone feet fell off during the short, and not terribly bumpy, trip (one we found in the bottom of our bag, the other slipped away into the ether). We'd expect better durability in such a simple device--or at least better adhesive.
BookArc promises "better performance" out of your MacBook by simple association: in closed-lid mode, MacBooks have better graphics performance using a second monitor than when open, because the GPU doesn't have to run two monitors. It's a simple idea, yet, as TwelveSouth claims, few MacBook users use their MacBooks with closed lids. This can be achieved without a stand, too, but to the BookArc's credit, it does provide a stable base on which the MacBook can be slotted vertically, saving space not just for desk use, but when connecting a MacBook to a TV--or, in our cluttered apartment, to simply store it away. Is that worth $50 to you? That depends on how cluttered your space is, and if you've ever fantasized about placing a MacBook on its side.