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Octa Vacuum Dock + WhaleTail Stand review: Octa Vacuum Dock + WhaleTail Stand

Though a bit overpriced,the Octa Vaccum Dock + WhaleTail Stand is a nifty accessory that works with all iPads and a variety of other tablets and e-readers.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
3 min read

Chalk this one up as one of the more unique accessories for your iPad and other slate-style tablets: a stand in the shape of a whale's tail.


Octa Vacuum Dock + WhaleTail Stand

The Good

The <b>Octa Vaccum Dock + WhaleTail Stand</b> has an eye-catching design, is relatively lightweight, works with a variety of tablets, and its bendable tail allows you to prop up your device at various angles.

The Bad

The stand is pricey, and it will not adhere to back cases that don't have a smooth surface.

The Bottom Line

Though a bit overpriced, the Octa Vaccum Dock + WhaleTail Stand is a nifty accessory that works with all iPads and a variety of other tablets and e-readers.

Officially called the Octa Vaccum Dock + WhaleTail Stand, it goes by Tablet Tail for short and literally suctions onto the back of your device. It can prop your tablet up in both a horizontal or vertical position, and the tail is removable from the vacuum dock, which allows you to break down for transport in the included cloth carry case.

Though somewhat pricey at $49.95, the accessory is fairly lightweight yet sturdy and has a nifty design. To adhere it to your device, you simply press it gently up to a flat clean surface, and press the protruding button on the dock to suck out all the air and create a vacuum seal. It does not help to press the suction cup hard up against the surface. Rather, you just want to hold it up against the surface, and as the air gets pulled out, the suction cup will work its way down until it's flush against it.

Tall tail: the vacuum dock only adheres to smooth surfaces. Sarah Tew/CNET

The key is to have a flat, "nonporous" surface to work with. That means that you can use this if you have a back case on your iPad so long as it's smooth (I tried it with a few different back cases and it worked fine). You also need to make sure the suction cup stays clean and doesn't get punctured.

Octa says, "Performance will vary with the cleanliness and condition of both your electronic device and this accessory."

Side view of the stand in action. Sarah Tew/CNET

I can't say the Tablet Tail has a big advantage over your standard folio case that has a built-in stand. But the tail does bend, allowing you to adjust the angle of your tablet. And the tail certainly is eye-catching.

Close up of the suction cup. Sarah Tew/CNET

Octa says you can also use this as a hand stand, which simply means you use it to hold your tablet in your hand more comfortably and ergonomically. That said, when I used it as a hand stand, I was a little worried I would lose suction and that my iPad would drop on the floor (I'd actually borrowed a colleague's iPad, so I was worried I was going to end up buying him a new one).

The good news is it didn't fall and the seal held fine. But I can't say I'd ever be 100 percent confident the seal wouldn't fail, even if Octa says the seal can last securely for 6 hours or more.

As far as removing the vacuum dock from your device, you simply lift the small rubber tabs on either side of the suction cup to break the seal. On a positive note, it requires a little bit of an effort to break the seal. That's comforting.

Using it as a hand stand. Sarah Tew/CNET

The Octa Vaccum Dock + WhaleTail Stand is an eye-catching accessory for your tablet that does what it says it will do and should appeal to folks who want a flexible stand for their iPad that also doubles as a hand stand. There is a fair amount of engineering that went into this product, so I can see why Octa would price it at $49.95. But it would be an easier sell -- and even easier to recommend -- at less than $30.

On the plus side, while this works better with larger tablets, you can use it with 7-inch tablets, as well as dedicated e-readers such as the Nook and Kindle. So, you get some flexibility there and the stand should work with future generations of tablets for years to come. There's something to be said for that.


Octa Vacuum Dock + WhaleTail Stand

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7