Mobile device cameras have come a long way, and many people (me included) have given up their compact cameras in favor of that little opening on the back of their telephone. Now we’re even seeing cameras with stabilization built in, which should further help the image quality. The least techy form of image stabilization is still the most effective, however: stick the camera on a tripod. unfortunately, few people keep tripods with them. That is what the tiltpod is trying to change.

    What is it?

    The tiltpod is a two part system consisting of a key fob-sized base and a pivot for attaching to your equipment. There are currently three different pivots, a stick-on version, a tripod screw version, and an iPhone 4/4S version. The idea is that you keep the base on your key chain or attached to the camera’s lanyard hole, and then you either keep the pivot attached to the camera, or the key chain as well (in the case of the iPhone version). The pivot part attaches to the base magnetically, allowing you to position it to get your shot.

    The company’s promo video below does a pretty decent job of explaining what the tiltpod can be used for, so have a look at that:

     What’s in the box

    There’s are two different sales packages of the tiltpod. The camera package contains the stick-on pivot and the tripod screw pivot, the base, a lanyard, and is designed for actual cameras. The iPhone package contains the iPhone version of the pivot, a key chain, and the base. Both sell for $14.95.

    What I’m missing here is the ability to buy the pivots individually. If you want both a tripod screw pivot for your camera, and an iPhone pivot for your iPhone, you basically have to pay for two bases. Having the pivots available separately for $5 would make it easier to expand the system without ending up with a dozen costly base pieces.

    Design

    The base is a drop-shaped plastic/rubber piece with an angled loop at the end for attaching a lanyard or key ring. The top holds the magnet, whereas as the bottom has wavy rubber to give it a better grip. The size is a compromise between portability and stability, and it’s about as big as it can be before it becomes a pain to carry around. The uneven drop shape also allows you to position the base so that it counter balances the camera if it’s pivoted to an angle.

    The pivots are partial metal spheres that fit into the magnet on the base. The iPhone pivot has a rubber piece on top that is designed to fit around the side of a naked iPhone 4 or 4S. Cases won’t work, and there’s no iPhone version at this moment – however one is in the works, and will hopefully be sold separately.

    In use

    The tiltpod works surprisingly well in practice. The compromise between stability and portability seems to be about as perfect as can be, providing a surprising amount of  stability. The wavy rubber on the bottom both helps with the grip and helps make sure that it can stand on a somewhat uneven surface (like a rock) without too much trouble. In fact, I dare say there are situations where the tilpod is superior to a traditional tripod, as the tilpod only needs a tiny surface to sit on. As a geocahcer, the tilpod is perfect for me as I can set it up on the nearest rock.

    As for compatibility, I actually use my Galaxy S II DIY tripod adapter with the tripod screw version of the pivot, since I don’t have an iPhone. Despite that setup being more off-center than what is intended, it holds my phone just fine. The amount it can pivot is surprising considering they’ve had to minimize the size of the pivot to keep it compact, and while it is’t comparable to a real tripod, it should be enough for your standard photos.

    For mobile devices, there’s also a secondary use for this: as a stand. The ability to pivot the device on the base means you have a decent set of angles to choose from, and I dare say this is more stable than a lot of tiny stands. Of course it’s a problem that only the iPhone 4/4s has a first party adapter for the tiltpod, meaning that if you have a different device, you need something like my tripod adapter. Not only is that something you have to make yourself for a lot of devices (but not all), it also means you need to carry a second piece with you.

    Conclusion

    The tiltpod is a great accessory for people who like to take pictures on the go. The lack of pivots for other devices is a major problem, and also effectively makes this an iPhone accessory – even if I use it with a Galaxy S II. Had there been more pivots – ones you could buy separately – this would have appealed to a lot more people. As it stands now, it’s a great accessory for iPhone 4/4S users, and of course those that still use compact cameras.

    The tiltpod can be bought directly from the company’s website for $15 per set.