Like many TidBITS writers, I have long advocated multiple displays as a productivity tool, but as a mobile MacBook user, it has always been difficult to practice what I preach. I'm not taking the iMacs to Starbucks, but it was a time when I used my old 17-inch PowerBook as another monitor for a newer MacBook. It had the added "benefit" to doing with the backpack in a solid workout (see "Build Your Own 23-inch MacBook", February 5, 2007).
More recently, I switched to an iPad as a secondary display, which is much easier on my shoulders. I trust and recommend Duet Display, while my colleague Julio Ojeda-Zapata recommends the corresponding hardware-based Luna Display (see "Luna Display Switching iPad to a Responsive Mac Screen", December 7, 201
This approach caused what seemed like a small problem: I could only set up side-by-side screens when I had enough desk space to do so. When I worked on a narrow table in a crowded coffee shop or in a comfortable chair, I had nowhere to put the iPad. So when I bought Ten One Designs Mountie, a clip that attached an iPad (or smaller device) to the side of a MacBook display, I thought it was just for convenience.
Instead, Mountie has proven transformative: how much time I spend on a multi-screen display has gone from about 20% to 80%, and it has completely changed how I do my work. Mountie requires airspace, not table space – while setting up an iPad in a stand by a coffee counter, it feels like an intruder on the person next to you, matching a hovering iPad usually in the personal space people naturally give you. And Mountie works great when I have my MacBook Pro in my lap so I get reclining work on my feet up. It's not likely to make your neighbor happy on a coaching plane, though.
Ten One Design designed Mountie for 9.7 inch iPads and smaller units. (You can also cut in an iPhone, and while it doesn't work like another screen, you can use it to play a video or watch Messages without recording Mac screen space.) For larger iPad pros, it's Mountie + , which does the same with two clips instead of one.
The Mountie has poor documentation, and frustratingly, Ten One Design does not provide any written material on its site. Speaking like someone who could burn a house while constructing an IKEA table, it took me an hour to settle. In the picture below, the colored clips attach to back on the iPad and MacBook screens. My first time, I put them in front and thought I'd set up covering up the corner of my screen. The narrower side, the actual front by Mountie, covers the pelvis but not the screen. Someone with better mechanical skills will find it faster – even some with better observation skills, when I was first informed that there is a demonstration video on the site I could have seen.
Mountie comes with six rubber inserts of varying thickness sliding over a plastic shelf inside the clip, and a piece of paper the size of a Post-it note (the only instruction) tells you which effort to use with your special hardware combination. One of the bets is designed for an iPad in one case, but the Moshi VersaCover case I use is too thick to fit, so I have to stick the iPad out to mount it. Two extra thin rubber flaps with adhesive backing are included, but I had no idea what to do with them before technical support told me to fine-tune the width of the clamps.
Once mounted, each side of the front of the clip is mounted firmly – slightly scarily so – to the MacBook display and iPad. The amount of pressure is just enough where I'm a little worried about breaking the screen, so I always close the clips slowly and gingerly – but I'm pretty sure I'm paranoid. The clamps hold the iPad firmly in place, though I wouldn't use it on a bus or plane because of vibration and turbulence. I've dropped my iPad once (fortunately on a blanket) when I had the MacBook in my lap and got up too fast. The weight of the iPad swung the MacBook lid down and caused the iPad to fall out of the clip. I criticize it for user errors, since you stand up more cautiously and use both hands to support both devices have worked well. Be careful.
The other concern is whether the weight of the iPad can damage the MacBook. The MacBook hinges do not have an exemplary track record, so it is reasonable to be concerned about risking an expensive repair. Peter Skinner of Ten One Design says that the company has tested for this and designed Mountie to emphasize the strongest part of the assembly. He also suggested that instead of cutting iPad to the top of the screen, you can attach it so that the iPad's bottom edge rests on the table – which is a particularly good idea with heavier tablets attached to lighter MacBooks so that the center of gravity remains stable.
When you have the clip, the angle of the iPad slightly turns towards you and is not adjustable. The plastic base protrudes against the side of the MacBook display and provides both stabilization and fixed angle. It wobbles a little when touching the iPad, so a milder touch is required than when the iPad is in a socket. It is just a small give and it seems like a hard push can knock it out of the clamp or cause damage. Again, be careful.
My other major problem with the design involves how it interacts with multiple display tools. With Duet Display, I need a cable connection from MacBook to iPad. I found Duet's wireless option useless, which means the iPad's Lightning port must face the side since the MacBook is flush with the screen. My cable is just long enough to create a dangling loop from the Lightning port to the USB-C port, which beats me as well as possible to send both devices to the floor. I intend to MacGyver a loop on Mountie to step through the cable and I have suggested it to Ten One Design as a feature. If you are using a Luna Display or Duet Display Air or Pro service, you will be wireless and will not have this problem.
Mountie costs $ 24.95 and comes in two colors, green and blue, but the time I have checked, a color was sold out. Mountie + costs $ 34.95 and you can get it in any color you want as long as it's black.