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Mobile Accessories

An iPad home theater on the cheap

An iPad stand like the Zerochroma Vario is one half of a solution for luxuriously watching movies on your iPad at half the cost of another unit we know of. But there's a catch.

Zerochroma Vario iPad stand
If you've got Bluetooth speakers, add a display stand to amp up your iPad movie-watching. Zerochroma

If you don't have $150 to toss around for the Altec Octiv Stage iPad dock and speakers, there are other, cheaper ways to milk the iPad's 10-inch screen for its home theater potential.

If you've already got Bluetooth speakers, simply pair them with a pivoting stand, like the swiveling, tilting Zerochroma Vario iPad case. It offers basic protection of the sides and back, but the main draw is the pop-out kickstand, which swivels 360 degrees and has 16 angle settings so you can position your iPad just so as you kick back with your movie from your airplane tray table, couch, or bed.

A rubberized tip keeps the Vario sturdy, but unless you're flying solo in the comfort of your own home, prepare to attract some nasty glares every time you fiddle with the angles: the kickstand sounds like the worst kind of ratchet.

Cut grooves within the sliding stand mechanism are the secret to the Vario's many viewing angles. Although the stand's two hinges seem sturdy enough, we're not sure how the notches themselves will hold up over time. A 120-day warranty will cover normal wear and tear. The case's price is rather steep at $69.95, but it's an able solution that's ultimately more portable and interchangeable than the Altec Octiv Stage.

If you've got to buy the speakers and a stand a la carte, the Altec Octiv Stage may cost less when all is said and done. Bluetooth speakers start at about $80 (like the Creative D100) and quickly climb. Here are some of our favorite Bluetooth speakers.

Still, a pair of speakers can be used with any other Bluetooth-enabled device, not just your iPad. Depending on how much other compatible gear you have on hand, you still may get the most use from piecemeal purchases than a single, device-specific solution--especially if you find yourself switching from an iPad to the iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab, RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, or another future tablet contender.