HiRise and HoverBar 3: Elegant desk combo for Mac laptop/iPad users

Twelve South products help create an ergonomic and beautiful workspace for MacBook and iPad users

If you're looking for a great way to get more out of your MacBook and your iPad, I have a recommendation: Consider getting Twelve South's HiRise stand for the MacBook, and pair it with the new HoverBar 3. Both help you get more out of the gear you already have.

HiRise for MacBook

Twelve South HiRise for MacBook

Using a MacBook on a desktop can be an ergonomic nightmare. Depending on the height of your chair, the height of your desk and your own dimensions, you can give yourself a mighty neckache, backache or eyeache by keeping the laptop too low.

The solution is to get your MacBook off the desk and to a height that's more conducive for working. You can do that pretty easily with a laptop stand. I've tried out a lot of stands for laptops over the years, but the HiRise is my favorite so far.

The HiRise works with any MacBook laptop of any vintage (and presumably PC ones too, but it's "made exclusively" for those — Twelve South orients its products for Mac and iOS device users). I'm using it with my early 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, but the same one works with 11-inch and 13-inch MacBooks too.

The HiRise is crafted of metal, with a powder finish designed to complement the aluminum finish of MacBooks. Its trapezoidal base is wider at the front than the back - it measures about 7 inches wide and 8 inches deep. Emerging from the base near the back is a spring-loaded stem that's height-adjustable from about 3.7 inches to about 5.6 inches.

The base extends out into v-shaped arms that hold the laptop in place. The arms enable plenty of bottom air circulation to keep the laptop from getting too warm. Textured rubber on the top of the arms keep the MacBook in place.

The arms are canted at a slight downward angle so your MacBook doesn't rest flat and level on it; instead, the keyboard and trackpad drop a bit down and away to get out of the way of the screen.

The bottom of the stand is bordered in teflon, so you can move it from side to side (if you need to pivot the MacBook to show someone else the screen, for example) without worrying about marking up your desk.

The HiRise is also great if you're using an external display with your MacBook, and you want to try to get both of them at the same height to make cursor movement and window opening consistent from one screen to the next.

You shouldn't type on the HiRise, obviously — connect an external keyboard and mouse on the desktop, and use Bluetooth if you want to make it look neat.

The Good

  • Provides almost six inches of lift off the table.
  • Works with any model MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.
  • Complements Mac design.

The Bad

  • Nothing to speak of.

The Bottom Line

I like the HiRise because it's a stable, functional and beautiful accessory for the MacBook. It holds the MacBook more securely than other stands I've used. And it just gets out of the way.

HoverBar 3 for iPad, iPad Air and iPad mini

Twelve South HoverBar 3

Now that your MacBook is at a better height, the next step is to get your iPad to a more useable position. Before I got the HoverBar 3 I'd usually keep my iPad on my desktop, either laying flat or at whatever angle the case I was using allowed. The HoverBar 3 lets me get it off the table all together. Now it floats in space, at about the same height as my MacBook screen.

The HoverBar comprises three primary components: First, there's a clamp that will grip securely in place on any desk or work surface that's up to an inch thick. It's coated in rubber to keep it from marking up whatever surface it's attached to, and a big allen wrench is included to torque it down. It can also clamp onto the back of an Apple Thunderbolt Display stand or an iMac stand.

Second, there's a 22-inch long piece of flexible black gooseneck tubing that screws into the clamp base in one of two positions offset 90 degrees from each other, enabling you to connect the tubing either horizontally or vertically depending on the orientation of the clamp. Twelve South includes a rubber stopper to stick in the side that isn't being used.

And then there's a clip for your iPad. The HoverBar 3 box includes three separate clips: One for 2nd, 3rd and 4th-generation iPads, one for the iPad Air, and one for the iPad mini (also works with the iPad mini with Retina display). The clip is lightweight and made of plastic. Twelve South also thoughtfully includes a "Sidekick" in the package - a kickstand that attaches to the clip, doubling the clip's value as a lightweight case that can be used away from the HoverBar.

A circular connector slides into place on the back of the clip. It accepts the ball on the end of the flexible gooseneck tubing; twisting it clockwise clamps the iPad down into place. So you can position the iPad at whatever angle you want then secure it so it doesn't move around as you're using it. You can pivot the iPad horizontally or vertically.

Clips are also included to guide a cable down the gooseneck, if you'd like to keep the iPad charged or synced while it's being used.

This makes the HoverBar a really useful gadget if you want to use your iPad alongside your Mac; whether it's using it as an ancillary display that contains specific information, or running a particularly crucial app. But its utility doesn't end there: You can pick up and move the HoverBar to the kitchen counter if you're reading a recipe, for example, or, as pictured on the Twelve South site, clamp the HoverBar in place behind a bed to give the kids something to watch their favorite Disney move on.

The Good

  • Works with iPad 2 - iPad Air and iPad mini
  • Includes Sidekick stand to use iPad in clip elsewhere
  • Very adjustable to suit your environment.
  • Helps keep iPad at same eye level as your Mac screen.

The bad

  • Desktop clamp only works with surfaces up to an inch thick.
  • Expensive compared to an iPad case.

The bottom line

The HoverBar 3 offers a lot of flexibility and stability if you're looking to mount your iPad in such a way that you can use it and see it without having to rely on a case. It's a lot more expensive than a case but it's a lot more well engineered than most of them, too. Twelve South's attention to detail shines through — the Sidekick stand adds a bit of value, too.

What do you think of the HiRise/HoverBar combo? Would that setup work for you? Or is this not the right configuration? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Peter Cohen