Now that you can choose between using FaceTime or Zoom on an Apple TV — and that really isn’t as much of a lesser of two evils scenario as it sounds — it’s time to consider one more accessory to stash inside your living room closet for those special occasions: a proper tripod for your phone.
It’s not quite as silly as you might think (OK, it’s a little silly, but stay with me here). We should all be calling our friends and family a lot more than we do. And being able to use your TV as a giant display (or at least way bigger than your phone screen) really does change the entire look and feel of the operation. And it’s a thousand times better than trying to cram three or four people (or more) around a laptop with a disappointing 1080p webcam.
So assuming you have an Apple TV — which is still our pick for the best streaming device you can buy — and assuming you’ve got an iPhone, it’s time to snag a tripod to really tie the room together.
Here are a few picks, at various budgets:
Expensive: Peak Design Travel Tripod
Let’s get this out of the way: Theis a very expensive tripod that you should not buy if you only intend on using it with your phone in your living room. You can get it in any color you want, so long as it’s black. But it does come in either aluminum or carbon fiber. The former costs $380, and the latter a whopping $600. So unless weight is of the utmost concern, aluminum may well be the way to go. (But carbon fiber is so very cool.)
Who should buy this thing, then, given its price? Someone who does more than Zoom calls from the living room, of course. It’s a very good travel tripod for someone who takes pictures with a proper camera on the regular. It’s got a smooth ball head and is compatible with all Peak Design plates, as well as most Arca-style plates. And it keeps the phone mount tucked away inside until you need it.
And the whole thing folds down into something about the size of a water bottle.
Expensive? Yeah. But also excellent.
Perfectly sane: Joby GorillaPod
If you’re not looking to spend several hundred dollars on a tripod (and I don’t blame you), theremains an excellent option.
The octopus-style legs (that’s what I call them in my head, anyway) let you attach this tripod to just about anything. A handrail. A lamp. A ceiling fan. Seriously, go nuts. Just remember that you have a phone that’s worth a few hundred dollars attached to the end of it.
It’s really the flexibility — no pun intended — that makes the GorillaPod a fan favorite after all these years. It’s relatively inexpensive. It’s extensible — with accessories that make it better and allow it to do even more. And it’s great for phones or mirrorless cameras. Basically it’ll handle whatever you want to throw at it. And if your holiday call gets heated, it should survive should you choose to throw it instead.
Just make sure you get an attachment for your phone, and not just something with a quarter-inch mount for phones.
Part selfie stick: Sensyne
Some days you want a tripod. Some days you want a selfie stick. The Sensyne 60-inch tripod selfie stick … thing (selfiepod?) does both.
I haven’t used it. Can’t speak to it. But you know what? It looks cool. And like Alton Brown, I love a good multitasker. It also kind of looks like a lightsaber, which is always a good thing.
Amazon says it’s made with a high-quality aluminum alloy, and a “premium piano baking paint process.” I’ve never known a piano that could bake, but maybe I just haven’t known enough pianos. It also comes with a removable Bluetooth remote so you can take pics and shoot video without having to run back and forth to your phone, which is definitely a good thing.
And perhaps most important? The price is right.