FitRAIL review: Get an early start on that New Year’s resolution

I’m a bit of a lapsed gym-goer myself, and like many, the looming holiday feasting already has me thinking about heading back. The key for me is to be as distracted as possible while burning off the calories, and the new fitRAIL iPad accessory from Scosche seemed like a good way to make that happen.

The fitRAIL is billed as an “exercise mount” for both the original iPad (s AAPL) and the iPad 2. It’s a sturdy, collapsible aluminum and steel gadget that manages to be both portable and secure when holding your iPad, and it’s an elegant solution to a problem I’ve been trying to solve since getting my first iPad.

Your screen, your stuff

The fitRAIL is basically a harness for your iPad that folds out so as to clamp down perfectly on the display consoles of most upright cardio equipment — ellipticals, treadmills, climbers and the like. It folds down to a small size and comes with a pouch for convenient carrying, and features sticky (albeit easy to remove) pads to keep your iPad securely in place, along with a hook attached to a neoprene strap to make sure it won’t pitch forward. The stretchiness of the neoprene strap and double grooves in the base make the fitRAIL easily compatible with any generation iPad.

It hooks over the top of the machine’s console (and seems to work with every variety I could find), and then hangs there, buttressed by rubber bumpers in the back to keep it from bouncing around too harshly. That way, you can watch or read whatever you want as you work out (so long as you downloaded it before to your iPad or you have internet access at your gym) instead of being beholden to whatever your gym chooses to play on its televisions.

Not just a gym rat

The fitRAIL also works remarkably well outside of the confines of the gym, which is good news in case you’re not often the type to stick with your New Year’s resolutions. It can be configured to work as a display stand, or as an angled prop for typing, in which capacity it easily outperforms other devices with similar purposes, like Apple’s own Smart Cover. You can also hook it over a door for hands-free viewing in a pinch.

Smart design that avoids too tight a niche

My office is virtually a graveyard of iPad stands. Too many of these were single purpose devices that quickly outlived their usefulness when something that not only acted as a stand, but did something else, too came along (the PadPivot comes to mind). The fitRAIL is a stand, yes, but it also offers a very specific function that satisfies the demands of many like myself who’ve been looking for a simple, easy-to-install way to mount an iPad to cardio equipment. It’s smart design that avoids being too precious, and that’s why it’s got a permanent place in my gadget bag.