I have to admit that before receiving the Octa Vaccuum Dock and Whale Tail I was not at all in the market for a tablet stand. One reason is that I don’t have a tablet (I’m a Vagabond traveler – I don’t have the money for both an iPad and a smartphone). Instead, I tested the accoutrements on my older-than-Orpheus first-generation Kindle, because a smooth solid surface is a smooth solid surface no matter what side of Silicon Valley you’re on.
The included Octa manual does caution that the device does not work on fabric cases, which, its power emanating from the magic of suction, should be obvious. Nevertheless, I naturally had to indulge myself in sticking the thing to every sunctionable object in my room to see how much it could grasp. Since the dock only adheres to even, flat surfaces, a bowling ball was unfortunately out of the question, but I did manage to lift a 10-pound jewelry case with it. So for any of you out there thinking your tablet, e-reader, or other flat-backed device is too antiquated and bulky for Moby Dick, fear not: this sucker will stick like a leech in swamp water.
The dock adheres so well – note, after at least five “pumps,” or presses, of the moon-shaped button – that a knot formed in my stomach upon initial removal as it really will not budge until after a few tries. The instruction manual advises the user to “lift the tabs on both sides of the suction pad,” but it takes a bit more fanangling beyond this to get it released. The dock left no noticeable marks on my Kindle, but I am wary that the constant presence of my nails near the dock during removal could cause some damage over long-term use.
Since my olde, rickety Kindle has probably seen a war’s worth of beatings, I freely experimented with the dock’s hold, turning my Kindle upside down, wiggling it, walking away for 10 minutes and coming back to wiggle it again, and the hold remained strong. The manual instructs to “pump the button regularly,” but unless you have particularly staunch retinas that permit you to stare emptily at your screen for days at a time, you probably won’t need to pump it any more than the initial five.
The downside to such heroic adhesiveness and resilience is that the dock alone weighs at least as much as your tablet itself, and even more when attached to the whale tail. As a traveler who would rather NOT tow around excess baggage when venturing overseas, the added mass for what is truthfully an unnecessary device is unwelcome. However, for a business traveler who will be dropping most of his/her wares at a hotel upon arrival, it might be worth the extra haul. In regards to viewing usability, for smooth flights it will hold its ground. However, due to its narrow design, should you be the type to fall asleep in the middle of your media consumption, expect it to be on the floor once turbulence hits.
As for the overall value for the money, the $50 price tag is probably hard to swallow for Vagabond travelers, especially with the abundance of lighter, cheaper stand options available on the market now. While the dock is indeed made of soft but durable, high-quality materials and seems like it could survive some whiplash on the journey through airport security, for that price I would much prefer it withstand a nuclear bomb test as well. However, I suppose the true value of a dock lies in just how much you’re going to use it, and for that guy on the plane who you can’t stand because he refuses to turn off his devices during lift-off…well, it might be of great value indeed.
Surprisingly, what I was most pleased with was the Octa instruction manual. It is not often I come across such straightforward explanations and diagrams for how to use a device (and trust me, I needed them for this one) that was also accompanied by original artwork and witty, though utterly useless, advisories (see image).
Overall, the Octa Vaccuum Dock and Whale Tail are not a bad investment if you’ve formalized your divorce from hard-copy books and other obsolete forms of media, thus spending long hours staring fixated at a 9.7-inch screen. Of course, if you fear you might not get your $50 worth out of it, it can always be lassoed and used to filch metal items from unsuspecting tourists.