iGo, by Rain Design
Posted: 24-Apr-2004

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Rain Design, Inc Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE



Overview
For those of you who have attended past MacWorld Expos, you've probably seen these at the show, and they surely caught your attention. It's not a computer, a peripheral, or even software. I'm speaking of those wild and very unique computer stands that showcase Apple's new iMac. I was able to get my hands on an iGo, and let me state right up front, the iGo stand will catch the attention of and impress even your most Apple-skeptical visitors. Referred to as "your iMac's other half" by Rain Design Inc, the iGo comes in two forms: The sitting model with castor wheels, and the standing Kiosk model with a solid base.

This review is for the sitting model (picture to the left, and further down in the review).

Price
The list price of the sitting model is $399, and the Kiosk model is $539.

Features

  • Strong and durable polyproylene dome holds iMac in place
  • Halo style lamp for showcasing iMac or typing in dark
  • Molded Apple speaker holders integrated into keyboard panel
  • Interchangeable left or right hand keyboard panel
  • Custom molded castor wheels matching iMac design (raceways designed for easy movement on carpet)
  • Cable compartment organizes and hides wires
  • Keyboard panel with adjustable heights and depths
  • Gel-filled wrist rest and mouse pad
  • Polycarbonate panel shelf for iPod, camera, external drives, etc.
  • Translucent white wrapping band holds iMac and iGo cables together for clean look


Setup
I'll get this out of the way first: The iGo does not come pre-assembled, and putting this stand together is nothing less than a daunting task. I normally like to build things, but I did not enjoy assembling this stand.

It didn't seem like it would be that difficult at first, because the legs already have their wheels on, so all I had to do was attach the legs to the base, attach the shelf panel to the legs, and then attach the keyboard tray. Attaching the legs, however, turned out to be a lot more frustrating than I imagined. Installing the four legs to the dome base throws two hurdles at you at once. You not only need to balance the legs and the base (they are not light), but getting the screws to line up through the base into the leg was horrendous. You are holding the base in one hand, using various body parts to hold the leg against the base, and using your free hand to thread the screw; and most of the time the screw just did not want to cooperate. I had to continually manoeuvre both the leg and the base until I "got lucky" and the screw went in. This process is much easier with another body helping you, but even then, getting the screws to line up is still a challenge. Attaching the shelf was simple in comparison, and the keyboard panel was a breeze. The cord wrap is a nice touch, because it allows you to combine the iMac power cord with the iGo power cord into what appears as a single cord - much neater than both cords flopping around. Putting the cord wrap on, however, was painfully tedious. Finally, it was time to push some USB wiring through the base (for my keyboard and Apple speakers), place the lid on the base, and then the iMac on the base.

In Use
Assembling frustrations aside, the iGo unit is gorgeous. It really suits the iMac well, and shows it off better than any other computer desk I've seen. With the translucent plastic leg brace (that also acts as a shelf), the shiny steel legs, and the white dome mirroring the base of the iMac, it's themed perfectly. At night, with the dome halo light on, it is truly a picture of technological beauty. A picture is worth a thousand words, so pictured below is the actual iGo unit being reviewed. On the left is the iGo in standard light, and on the right is the iGo in the dark with the dome light on.


iGo in light (left) and in dark with dome light on (right)

Most of the wiring can be hidden in the iGo's base. As pictured above, the keyboard and speaker wires enter the front of the base, they drape around the inside of the base with some wire holding clips, and then exit out the back right next to where the USB plugs are. Note that it looks like just one power cord coming down the back, but that is actually the iMac power cord and the iGo power cord inside the iGo cord wrap. On the shelf is my wireless mouse transmitter for my Microsoft Wireless Intellimouse. The other cable shown going from the back of the iMac to my stereo is a Griffin audio cable that pipes my iMac's audio into my surround sound stereo system (great for listening to iTunes or playing Halo). This is a very sleak setup.

NOTE: For further enhancing the "clean" look, you'll definitely want to get an Airport card installed in your iMac and use a wireless router for your internet connection so that you can avoid an ethernet cable draped down the side.

Ergonomically, the stands holds it's own. The keyboard tray is fully adjustable, allowing you to lower or raise it as well as pull it out or push it in, supporting various chair heights and body sizes. The tray and stand are very sturdy, and it was comfortable to sit at and work on. The unit rolled with ease on both a hardware floor and on carpet. I was worried that the stand may roll unwantingly on the hardware floor, but after weeks of use, I did not notice any problems of the unit straying. The stand remains stationery while working on it, yet is easily mobile when I need it to be.

This stand comes with somewhat of a big price tag considering that it offers you no desk space; only the small shelf beneath the dome. However, this is one of those aesthetically pleasing pieces of furniture that once you see it, and picture a good place for it, you'll feel that you just have to have one. It may even inspire you to purchase an iMac just so you can use the stand. For those of you who want to hook your iMac up to your stereo - giving you full access to your entire CD collection by way of iTunes - but do not want some plain looking messy desk clashing with your living room furniture, the iGo is the solution you have been looking for. My setup provides me complete access to my entire CD library, making my 5-CD changer obsolete. With the nice design of the iGo stand, I have not sacrificed the look of my living room - if anything, the area looks better. Every guest who has stepped into my home has been wowed by this combination. The stand is so well themed with the iMac that many have made the assumption that both the iMac and the iGo are manufactured by Apple. Kudos to Rain Design's engineers.

Of course, the stand is not for everyone. If you need your desktop space, you probably want to stick with a traditional desk. If you tend to swap out your peripherals, keep in mind that the iGo unit is designed specifically for the iMac and its stock peripherals. You could use the iGo with any mouse, but if you swap out your Apple keyboard for something larger or shaped differently, the keyboard tray on the iGo may not hold it securely. Likewise, if you swap out your Apple eyeball speakers for the much preferred iSticks, you'll have to find somewhere else to place those, because the speaker holders built into the iGo are specifically designed for the eyeball speakers (they would not hold my iSticks).

Summary
Rain Design's iGo stand for the iMac is the premiere computer stand to showcase your iMac and make your PC friends envious. With its streamlined design, the iGo provides a sturdy iMac base, takes up as little space as possible, conceals extraneous cables, and gives your iMac great mobility. It is custom fit to the iMac, which may be a disadvantage if you have a non-standard keyboard or speakers. Be warned that besides the high purchase price, the iGo requires a high level of patience during assembly. As a programmer and web designer, I wouldn't be able to use this stand as my primary work space simply because I require a lot of desk space, and when I work, things get messy. However, for a secondary computer, or for those who mainly use your Mac for the internet and your digital lifestyle, the iGo is "the" stand to get. The iGo will certainly enhance your iMac experience, and at night, with the halo light eluminating the stand, it will give your iMac that magic glow that you always new it should have. My unit even inspired a neighbor of mine to get an iGo for his iMac, and now with his Airport card, he's talking of rolling it out to his backyard to surf the web from his hot tub. Nice.

Pros

  • Beautiful design, themed perfectly for iMac
  • iGo base and cord wrap do wonders for hiding wire mess
  • Smooth wheels for iMac mobility
  • Awesome halo night light

Cons

  • Assembly can be frustrating
  • May not suit your 3rd party peripherals
  • Expensive


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice