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VidaBox iPad Wall Mount

VidaBox iPad

Another iPad mount? Really? Well, one can hardly fault companies for cashing in on the iPad's market saturation. When it comes to Home Automation, the iPad's low price, high build quality, and ever-expanding App Store make it ideal for the industry. The problem, however, is how to turn what is a traditional tablet into a cost-effective, yet powerful, dedicated touchscreen controller; this is where the mount becomes essential. Recently VidaBox announced their own iPad wall mount, hoping to satistfy the needs of both Home Automation professionals and enthusiasts alike. Have they succeeded in this task? Check past the break for a full hands-on review.
Product Description
According to VidaBox's website, their iPad Wall Mount provides a "semi-permanent, secure on-wall mounting solution" in a slim design (19mm). Categorically, this kind of mount is known as an on-wall picture frame. For installation in the home this is the best mounting solution. It offers a clean, professional look while not being sterile and commercial. VidaBox claims their product has put an end to the days of needing expensive, proprietary screens – something all of us can rejoice over. Compared with other solutions on the market, they claim it has the best bang for the buck: the iPad 1 model costs $159.99, while the iPad 2 comes in at $99.99.
The price discrepancy comes from a more efficient, cost-effective manufacturing process, which Vidabox has been able to implement with the second generation iPad. 6 different color options are available: Black Metalline, Brushed German Silver, Florentine Black, Florentine Grey, Florentine Silver, Florentine Walnut, and Matte Black.
You can also order a convenient sample color swatch for $3.99.
They also offer the iPCX charging kit, which provides power to an iPad over a single cat5e up to 15’. Lengths longer than this begin to increase the charging time, though VidaBox claims that anything under 20’ should have no issues. The iPCX is sold separately for $30.
The review kit took only a few days to arrive from VidaBox. I received both the iPad 1 Wall Mount in the Florentine Walnut finish (Model #: IFRAME1-FWA) and the iPCX charging kit (Model #: iPCXv1).
The packaging was standard fare, which I found reassuring. While everything was of good enough quality to prevent the frame from damage during shipment, VidaBox has chosen to invest their funds in the product itself and not some fancy packaging that is quickly thrown away - unless you are like me and keep the boxes to every product you ever buy, you know, just in case.
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The wall mount package comes with a single sheet of instructions, the frame, and a bag of mounting hardware.  

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The iPCX also includes a set of instructions, a pair of cat5e-usb adapters, and a short usb male-male cable.

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No parts were missing and everything was in good condition.
Hardware and Design
The frame is made from an unspecified metal, available in either a matte or textured finish that is designed to resemble "high-quality aluminum." It is constructed from four separate frame pieces, all connected by four L-type brackets secured by removable screws.
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The material is very strong yet surprisingly lightweight, making it ideal for on-wall mounting. In fact, even with the iPad installed, the weight felt comparable to an equally-sized glass picture frame.
The Florentine Walnut finish provided for the review was very appealing to the eye, definitely living up to the high-quality finish claims; you wouldn't be able to guess it was anything other than machined aluminum. While the front had no visible flaws, the upper left corner had a manufacturing defect that left a small, white burn mark.  Since this was on the back, it made little difference and, to their credit, VidaBox offered to send a replacement.
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The only complaint I had with the frame itself was the precision of the mitering that left a small gap in each of the corners. See the picture above for an example. The largest gap was roughly 1/8".
However, with some muscle and pressure, I was able to force the corners together. Just loosen the screws and push hard. 

The inside of the frame has felt strips along all four sides, providing a scratch-free enclosure for the iPad and allowing for a more snug fit when secured down with the included spring clamps.
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If you are concerned about the glass getting scratched, set those fears aside: the felt works as it should. In fact, it is probably safer in the frame than in my oily paws.
(On a side note, since the design of the mount is a frame, it prevents access to the power, volume, and toggle-switch buttons. Since the primary function of the device is to be a dedicated controller, however, access to these functions is not necessary. Still, if for any reason you need to control the volume or toggle mute/rotation lock, iOS provides access to them in the multitask dock.)
The bottom-back of the frame has a half-circle cutout for the iPad's dock connector. 
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It's a tight fit to insert the dock connector, but there is just enough room to work properly.

Overall, the build quality and finish are top notch, especially for a frame at this price. However, the imprecise mitering and finish blemish prevent it from receiving the highest marks. Installation and
Disassembly of the frame could not have been easier. Once unscrewed, the top frame piece pulls out, allowing the iPad to easily slide into place.
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I was impressed by the precision of the inner frame dimensions. The iPad fit securely without being too tight and centered perfectly in the frame.
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In order to ensure a tight fit, the mount came with four spring clips. Once again, installation was simple and straightforward. You bend the clips and slide them into each back corner. There is a thin piece of felt on the bottom of the clips that is supposed to prevent the metal from coming into contact with the iPad's aluminum back, thus ensuring that none of your iPad's "magic" is diminished. However, when removing my iPad after completing the review, there were distinct scratches on the back. I believe this is due to the tacky feel of the protective cover I installed, which prevented the felt from sliding properly and thus forcing the metal against it. Therefore, be advised: if you have a back protector on your iPad, the clips WILL SCRATCH. You best bet is to remove any protector before installation.
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Mounting the frame itself is a little trickier, but anyone who has installed a flatscreen on the wall will be familiar with the basic procedure. The first step is choosing the mounting location. Since the iPad is so affordable, starting at just $499 for the 16gb wifi model and even less for generation 1 refurbs, it becomes conceivable to install multiple units throughout the house. In my opinion, the kitchen and family room provide the best locations for HA control and, coupled with the right apps and an Apple TV or other AirPlay compatible product, the iPad can function not only as a controller but as a full-on media streaming device. The versatility of the iPad finally makes it possible for there to be an inexpensive touchscreen that serves as both a remote and a media server. But enough about that....
Once you have chosen a place for the iPad, the next step is to insert the included pins into the retainers and snap the retainers in place along the inside back of the frame. The position of the retainers is not crucial. Next, you place the frame in position on the wall and lightly tap the four sides in order to dent the drywall at the location of each of the four pins. (Unfortunately, my review kit came with a faulty frame retainer, which caused some initial confusion in following the instructions. However, VidaBox's customer support quickly sent out a replacement piece and I was able to continue with the installation.) Once the dents are marked, you drill holes large enough to insert the anchors and screw the frame retainers in place. Finally, you line up the frame with the retainers and rotate them approximately 45 degrees to snap them into position. In total, it took about 10 minutes to get the iPad seated into the frame and mounted on the wall. It really is an ingenious design and incredibly simple.

However, one drawback of the VidaBox design is that it provides for no easy way to rotate the iPad between landscape and portrait views; it can only be installed in a fixed position. Granted, this is standard for all picture frame mounts, but it would be nice for them to engineer a method for rotating the frame on the wall.
Picture frame mounts like this one beg to be used as.......wait for it.............picture frames (ingenious, no?) Yet, when mounted in the portrait position, the pictures are scaled down too much to be of much use for this purpose. Therefore, if you would like to use the iPad as a digital frame when it is not in use, the landscape orientation is the only way to go.*
There is a trade-off though: some iPad apps do not work in landscape mode. So be sure to verify that your favorite ones work before choosing either portrait or landscape.

*As a side note, if a slight gap between the back of the frame and the wall is not important to you, one could conceivably use industrial strength Velcro to allow the frame to be removed easily and rotated between landscape and portrait mode. However, this is not supported by VidaBox and would certainly be a perform-at-your-own-risk procedure.
While the iPad's battery life exceeds 10 hours on a single charge, it simply isn't enough for use as a dedicated on-wall touchscreen controller. Since removing the iPad from the mount every time it needs to be charged is completely impractical, there are a few options:
  • Purchase a long usb cable and run it down the wall to the Apple power adapter in a nearby outlet.
  • Have an outlet installed at each iPad mounting location.
  • Go with one of the solutions from VidaBox.
VidaBox offers two solutions for providing dedicated power to your iPad. The first is the iPCX included in my review kit and the second is their more advanced iPower charging unit, which provides power to 4 separate iPads from a single power supply. Since I was not supplied with this, I cannot comment directly on it. However, since the iPCX only costs $30, the $399 price tag for the iPower makes it an unnecessary accessory.
For more information on the iPower station, however, please see the links below. If you go with the iPCX or iPower, the only requirement is that you have cat5e available at each iPad location, preferably inside of a junction box so that the cables can be tucked away. If you are a professional installer, ensure that you have at least one cat5e drop at each potential iPad location.
The installation of the iPCX was quick and easy. Simply use the charger and usb cable that came with the iPad and you are ready to go.
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Once connected, the iPad immediately recognized the presence of power and began charging. However, there is a caveat that may make this solution impractical for some: the total cat5e length must be less than 20’, otherwise the iPad will be limited to trickle recharging. The longer the cable run, the slower the charging time. If you intend on using the iPad for anything other than typical HA and music control, this may not be the best solution as the battery will drain quickly. A dedicated outlet then is your best bet - if you can manage it. If you don’t want to pay for an electrician, something like this electrical outlet relocation kit from Zip is the way to go.
Does VidaBox's product live up to its marketing hype? For the most part, yes. The build quality is solid and professional looking and the choice of six available color options make it easy to match any room's décor. The clear instructions and well-designed mounting hardware make installation simple and easy. However, I would like to see the ability to rotate the mount once in position in order to switch between portrait and landscape modes in a future revision. Lastly, the total price of $190 ($130 for the iPad 2 version) with the frame and iPCX makes the VidaBox iPad on-wall mount an excellent choice for professional installers and DIYers alike. If you've been looking for an iPad mount solution for your HA system, look no further than VidaBox; there really isn't anything else comparable at this price point. Summary Pros
  • Affordable
  • High quality materials
  • Perfect fit for the iPad
  • Lightweight and slim profile
  • Professional look
  • Easy installation
  • Clear instructions
  • Mitering Precision
  • Manufacturing Flaw (minor)
  • Potential for the spring-clips to scratch/mar the back
  • Maximum distance of 15' for full charging (iPCX)
  • No access to the volume, switch, and power buttons
  • No ability to rotate between landscape and portrait mode