Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Twelve South is one of the few accessory brands that, for me at least, tend to outdo Apple with an aesthetically pleasing design and the craftsmanship in its products, even though many of them are created to enhance Apple users experience.
I found this true of the Compass Pro during the review period, a Twelve South alternative to Folio cases. Similar in design to a painters easel, the Compass Pro is a 3-in-1 stand meant for the different types of iPad users.
It flat packs down to fit any travel bag or backpack pocket and tough enough to outlast your next few iPads over the coming years.
Compass Pro Features
The Compass Pro is a compact three-legged stand for iPad that can be used in 3 different user settings depending on what you are using the tablet for. For the review, I used a 2021 iPad Pro 11″ tablet; however, Twelve South has built the Compass Pro to accommodate all current iPad models and even accommodates tablets with cases.
Hands-Free mode is an almost vertical, or upright, position that works well when the iPad is in either portrait or landscape. Desktop is a slightly more angled position, which I found best suited to landscape mode. It’s also the best of the three settings for using the onscreen keyboard for typing.
The last position is Sketch mode. With this, the main leg is folded away, and a short kickstand is used to give a much lower angle, raising the iPad by only 60mm at its highest point.
How you use each viewing mode will depend on several factors: your height, sitting position and what activity you are using the iPad for.
With Hands-Free mode, the most upright of the three with a 52° viewing angle, I found this perfect for making my iPad a second display using Sidecar with my MBP.
It worked well because that 52° angle Compass Pro provides is almost identical to a laptop display, making it a good option as a second display when travelling away from my office. And, if you have the larger 12.9″ iPad Pro, this works even better, and the Compass Pro can comfortably handle the larger tablet.
This mode, though, does highlight my one big complaint about the Compass Pro. In Hands-Free mode and while using the iPad in Portrait, there’s no way to have the tablet on charge. You can have a cable plugged in all the other modes and tablet position combinations, just not in Hands-Free + Portrait.
In the middle of the angles on offer is Desktop Mode. The main central leg has an extendable/retractable foot, which, when closed, lessens the viewing angle down to 43° of from the desktop.
Surprisingly, this mode was not meant for typing, yet I found it to be the best for it when you are using the onscreen keypad. It delivers the best medium between screen height for viewing yet is shallow enough that typing is manageable without too much strain on the wrists.
Charging works better for Portrait use when the iPad is on the Desktop stand, and is fine for Landscape.
At the slightest angle setting is Sketch/Type Mode. At just a 15° angle from the table surface, the Compass Pro positions your iPad at an angle meant to suit typing with the onscreen keyboard.
This is going to be a personal choice for you. For me, as mentioned earlier, I preferred the Desktop Mode.
Digital artist, though, may well prefer Sketch Mode as I found it make using Apple Pencil easier. The Kickstand hinge is more than strong enough to support the weight I applied while drawing in Adobe Fresco. I tried out both an 11″ and 12.9″ iPad in Sketch Mode, and the larger iPad definitely worked better.
A point to note is that if you have an iPad of any size without a case on, you’ll notice the ledges that support the iPad sticking out a bit in Sketch Mode. This wasn’t too much of an issue during the review for me, but I’m no digital artist, and Twelve South has designed the Compass Pro to be used with an iPad in a case, so the room is justified.
Twelve South has made the Compass Pro as robust as possible. From the moment I first picked it up to review, the weight alone confirmed this. It’s by no means too heavy to add to your travel kit, yet it was a reassuring weight of build quality I noticed. Even the travel pouch that comes with the Compass Pro is simple yet durable enough to keep the device looking as good as new for years to come.
The dark grey frame is made from solid metal, and each of the three legs is capped with a non-slip soft silicone shoe. On the back of the main central leg is a smaller kickstand leg for the sketch mode. This, too, is made from solid metal and has a silicone shoe.
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Joining all three legs is a pivot hinge, with a standard fold-out hinge for the kickstand. Both are strong and showed no sign of flexing or breaking, even with the use of force.
Finally, for support, the two support legs each have a fold-out ledge to support the iPad. Twelve South has either the soft silicone or plastic between your iPad and the metal frame of the Compass Pro at every touchpoint.
Twelve South Compass Pro Specifications
|186 x 32 x 12mm
|In the Box
|Compass Pro Stand
Twelve South Stickers
Where to Buy?
The Compass Pro 3-in-1 Stand for iPad is $59 direct from Twelve South.