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Tablet Stands and Covers

From Mahogany Chicken and Asparagus Stir-Fry

How we tested

Bringing slim, portable tablets into the kitchen puts online recipes at your fingertips—but also places the pricey gadgets within range of splatters and sticky hands. Tablet stands promise to protect and prop up the flat computers for easy reference. There are also plastic covers and bags that act as protective sleeves. We fitted various tablets (including the iPad, iPad mini, and multiple Kindles) with five products—stands, covers, or a combo of both (priced from $10.16 to $67.99)—to see how well they stood up to the challenges of a busy kitchen. And because the covers resembled the plastic zipper-lock bags we already keep on hand, we added those to the mix, too. We pounded pork chops to see if the stands would rattle; stuffed the plastic covers with paper cut to tablet size, sealed them, and submerged them in water for 5 minutes, noting any leaks; and simply used the stands and covers as directed as we read recipes.

Problems were rife. One stand hogged counter space; some protective covers failed to fit every tablet; and worst of all was the plastic guard on the bottom-ranked stand that rendered the touch screen unresponsive. But there were some keepers, too, like one stand that included an ultraresponsive stylus. One quibble: While the screen was shielded, the power and volume buttons were not.

Best of all was the combination of one particular stand and a plain old zipper-lock bag. The stand featured well-placed grips that secured every device we tried, a small footprint, and a neat foldable design, and the bag shielded the screen at least as well as tablet-specific covers (we taped back excess plastic to create a snug fit and punched holes for charger wires).

Note: Because we did not evaluate every product under the same standards—for instance, plastic bags were not rated for stability—we indicated in the chart where rating categories did not apply with a dash.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*