Review: Understands, a beautifully neat way to raise an iMac or Apple monitor, with one issue
If you want to raise your iMac or Apple Thunderbolt Display to eye-level, there’s no shortage of ways to do it – at every price level.
Search for iMac stand on Amazon and you’ll find everything from ugly plastic ones for around 20 bucks through some nice-looking aluminum ones around the $70 mark to a clever Twelve South version for $130 (review of an earlier incarnation) …
Readers who know my fondness for wood won’t be surprised that I’m far more drawn to the likes of this walnut one from Woodcessories.
But what Understands has done with some of its wooden stands is something very simple but very neat. Instead of the iMac or monitor foot sitting on top of the shelf, it slides into a slot in the rear of it.
The result is that the foot itself disappears from view, and you get an unobscured view of the wood itself – plus a handy shelf.
The company offers a wide range of models. Different woods, different designs, with or without a drawer, widths ranging from narrow to double-monitor size.
Where the wood is concerned, you can choose from light ash, dark ash, two-tone ash, cherry and walnut. You can have straight cut edges and various kinds of unique curved edges, from relatively subtle ones – like the one I tested – to some really funky driftwood-like designs.
I must say that I love the look of that one, but it does take up a lot more room on a desk, and is much more visually dominant.
The stands are polished, but you still get the feel of the wood: running my fingers over the knot in the centre of mine is a pleasing experience to those with a mild wood fetish.
Pricing for the slot-design stands starts at $99, ranges through $149 for the model I tested (the Evo Walnut Nice One of a Kind) to $169 for the Stellar One of a Kind shown above. Beyond that, you can go all the way up to $399 for much more involved units with multiple drawers, but I’m all about the simplicity of the more basic ones.
From a practicality perspective, you do get a neat place to put your keyboard and mouse when not in use.
The width of the shelf is just right for a Magic Keyboard and Magic trackpad, but here’s where the first issue arises. It would be neater to store them under the shelf rather than on it, but the leg design prevents that: the keyboard fits underneath, but not the trackpad also.
With the standard models, you don’t know exactly what you’re getting until it arrives. Natural wood will vary in its grain and coloring, and a hand-cut piece will also vary in its shape, so you are taking a bit of a chance in terms of exactly what you get.
But with the One Of A Kind models, what you get is exactly what you see on the website: when that piece is sold, it’s removed from the site and a new one takes its place.
Price and conclusions
Are these stands worth what you pay for them? The answer to that is always going to be personal. For some people, almost any money for a stand is too much, and they’ll happily stick it on top of a few hardback books. Others will pay a two-figure sum for something attractive, but will consider three figures too much. Yet others will happily pay several hundred dollars to get something they love.
My personal view is that Understands would feel overpriced without the slot. Without that, they are aesthetically pleasing but rather simple designs, and my handyman could make one for a lot less. But the slot is the USP of these shelves. The iMac/monitor foot gets tucked out of sight, and you get to look at the wood for which you paid.