The Belkin Tablet Stage looks to take overhead projectors into the 21st Century. When used with its app and a projector, this device lets you project images from your iPad to a roomful of students or executives, and you can annotate the images on screen. Does this $169 accessory represent the next generation of presentation devices?
With a white base, aluminum post and arm, and green accents, the Belkin Tablet Stage has a clean, almost antiseptic look that will fit in any classroom environment.
Attached to the post is an arm, at the end of which is a tablet cradle. The cradle slides up and down the arm, so you can easily move closer or further from your subject. In addition to sliding up and down, the cradle also rotates horizontally and vertically.
Considering the cradle can fit tablets ranging in size from 7 to 11 inches, it's a shame that Belkin has only released an iOS app.
The Tablet Stage weighs 10.2 pounds; its base measures 15.4 x 13 inches, and with the post, the Stage is about 16.4 inches tall. The top of the base is covered in white plastic, but underneath is a large metal plate, which helps keep the Stage from moving around on your desk.
Some assembly is required. The Tablet Stage comes in three separate pieces: the base, the post and the tablet cradle. After inserting the post in the base, you must secure the two pieces together using the four included screws (you'll need to provide your own Philips head screwdriver). Then, secure the tablet cradle to the arm using one more screw.
The Stage also includes an optional LED light, which clips onto the Tablet Stage's arm. Three AAA batteries are also included for the light.
After downloading the free Belkin Stage app to our iPad, we placed the tablet in the cradle and snaked the Lightning cable down the post to a projector. In all, setup took about 10 minutes.
In order for audiences to see what you're drawing on screen, you will also need a projector, as well as a Lightning- or 30-pin VGA or HDMI adapter, which costs $39 to $49.
The Stage app is pretty minimalist. When you open it, the app activates the iPad's camera, which takes up the entire screen. In the upper right corner are two small icons to record a video of your presentation or take a snapshot.
On the left edge of the screen is a small carat that, when pressed, reveals a menu where you can select different brush sizes and colors, pick an eraser, choose a photo from your camera roll or decide between a black or white background.
On the right edge of the display is another small carat, which opens a menu with several tags: First, Second, Third, Take Note and Important are the defaults, but you can add your own. Press and hold on a tag, and you can drag it onto the main screen.
While bare bones, the Stage App was incredibly easy to use, crucial for anyone who's had to fumble around with tech prior to a presentation. In no time, we were drawing on the iPad to highlight and circle objects on screen. Considering the interactive nature of the iPad, though, we wish the app would let us annotate Web pages, too.
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The Tablet Stage itself was easy to adjust, though the arm connecting the cradle to the post was a little wobbly at times, especially when we pressed hard on our iPad. The LED light accessory was plenty bright and helped keep shadows from falling on whatever we placed on the Tablet Stage.
As more and more classrooms are adopting the iPad as an educational tool -- every public school student in Los Angeles is scheduled to get one this year -- accessories such as the Belkin Tablet Stage will prove studentsngly useful for teachers and students alike. At $169, this accessory is a bit expensive, given that it contains no actual electronics, but the Belkin Tablet Stage is useful for those looking to spice up their presentations.