Holiday 2012: iPad Accessories
Every time Apple announces a new iPhone, iPod or iPad, there are dozens of manufacturers who subsequently release a variety of accessories to go with the latest device. These accessories range from cases, folios and stands to speakers, mounts and charging devices. It would be impossible to write about them all, so here are a few standout accessories that are compatible with the iPad 2, iPad (3rd gen), iPad mini and iPad 4. Most of these products will work with the original iPad as well. If you have an iPad 4 or iPad mini, consider a Lightning to 30-pin adapter, which will give your iPad compatibility with many of the products in this article that work with the older 30-pin dock connectors.
Listening to music and watching movies or video content from YouTube has always been a major selling point for the iPad. So, it’s no surprise that companies like Bose and Aiptek have joined the likes of iHome and iSound in the quest to design useful multimedia accessories for your tablet or smart phone. Bose offers a few portable speaker options, and one of the most useful is the SoundLink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II, which offers mobility, innovative sound technology and Bluetooth wireless compatibility. It will work with all Bluetooth-enabled iPads and iPhones, as well as any Bluetooth-enabled iPod touch.
The speaker itself features proprietary technology that delivers robust sound with rich, low bass notes, thanks to the Bose passive radiators. It has a transmission range of up to 30 feet and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that supports up to eight straight hours of music playback. There’s an auxiliary audio input as well, which allows you to connect and enjoy music from any other audio device with a line output. In an effort to maximize the SoundLink II’s effectiveness, Bose has wrapped the speaker in a protective cover that can unfold into a convenient and useful speaker stand. This ensures that wherever you take the SoundLink II, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite music without needing to find a smooth, flat surface to stand the speaker upright. The stand/cover is also removable and Bose offers a line of covers with different colors and textures to ensure your SoundLink is as stylish as it is effective.
Another unique speaker that’s designed for use with the all Bluetooth-enabled iPads and iPhones, as well as any Bluetooth-enabled iPod touch and any other Bluetooth-enabled device is the iSound Twist Bluetooth Speaker. The Twist features a truly unique twist design that houses dual speakers and a built-in subwoofer. It also features A2DP Bluetooth 3.0 technology and a five-hour rechargeable lithium-ion battery. While the Twist surely has one of the coolest and most innovative portable speaker designs out there, it’s also highly functional. The speaker has a wireless range of up to 30 feet and it's equipped with a built-in mic for using the speaker as a wireless speakerphone or Skype voice chat microphone. Plus, there’s even an auxiliary line input for connecting non-Bluetooth audio devices with a line output jack.
If you want to record audio with your iPad and the integrated microphone isn’t satisfying your ear, then the Tascam iM2 Stereo Microphone might be the perfect accessory. The iM2 is a digital recording device with a pair of integrated condenser microphones that plugs directly into the 30-pin port of your iPad (won't work with lightning port). In fact, it’s compatible with the iPhone 4 and 4S, the iPad 2 and the iPod touch (4th generation) as well. The iM2 is powered straight through the iPad docking port and there’s even a USB port on the device which will charge your iPad straight through the iM2 while it’s connected. The iM2 has a maximum sound pressure level of 125 dB, which means that you can use it to record loud live music and rehearsals without worrying about distortion. You can also use it for songwriting, lectures and shooting video with the iPad camera. The iM2 will provide a better audio track than the iPad’s built-in mic. For flexibility, the recorder's stereo condenser microphones are adjustable 180°, front to back. There's a built-in analog to digital converter as well. A microphone preamp ensures low-noise recording and a switchable limiter attenuates high-level signals to prevent recording overload. The iM2 even features adjustable input level control and it works with most recording apps, including the built-in video camera on your iPad or iPhone.
For enjoying multimedia content on the new iPad, Scosche has recently released a couple of unique mounts. The Scosche holdUP Headrest Mount is compatible with the iPad (3rd gen), iPad 2 and original iPad. This mount attaches directly to the headrest in your car, truck or van. It keeps your iPad securely fixed to the rear of your vehicle’s headrest so that anyone in the back seat can enjoy movies, games and Web browsing while out on the road. The mount affords 360-degree rotation of your iPad for viewing in portrait or landscape orientation. There are quick-release snaps as well, so you can remove your iPad easily once you get to your destination. For enhanced performance, the mount features a rear support arm that dampens screen vibrations while the vehicle is moving. And the high-strength design affords total access to all ports and buttons while mounted.
Scosche’s other new mount, which is compatible with all generations of iPad, is the fitRAIL Exercise Mount. The fitRAIL allows you to safely secure your iPad (any generation) to the exercise equipment of your choice. It features patented stickGRIP material, an aluminum-and-steel frame, soft rubber feet, adjustable bars and a neoprene clip-on strap. The mount folds to fit into an included travel pouch, which can fit easily into a gym bag or backpack. This means you can use the mount to watch movies on your iPad, listen to music, read a book or even surf the Web—all while working out on most of your favorite exercise machines. Even if you’re at home, you can place the fitRAIL mount on a table or countertop and use it as a low-angle typing stand. Plus, the patented stickGRIP material and neoprene clip-on strap safely secure your iPad during even a strenuous workout.
If you’re more of a couch potato or worker bee, then the Twelve South Compass Mobile Stand may be the stand for you. It comes in a variety of colors and is compatible with the iPad (3rd gen) and the iPad 2. The stand features a folding easel design and is crafted from heavy-gauge steel for durability. It supports iPad viewing in portrait or landscape orientation. The stand can be angled upright for viewing video content, surfing the Web and reading, or it can be angled nearly flat for typing emails and notes. The Compass Mobile Stand offers hands-free enjoyment of any media and it also comes with a travel case for added portability.
Aspiring musicians will appreciate R.A.T. Stands Z3 iPad Stand and the Ion Piano Apprentice. The Z3 is a telescoping stand that can adjust between heights of 16 and 54 inches. It’s compatible with the iPad, iPad 2 and iPad (3rd gen). The Z3 has no knobs to tighten and it can fold flat in three easy steps. The stand can also be rotated 360°. Plus, it’s constructed of anodized aluminum, which makes it both durable and lightweight.
The Ion Piano Apprentice features an iPad stand with an integrated 25-key touch-sensitive keyboard. The stand is compatible with iPad, iPad 2, iPad (3rd gen), iPhone and iPod touch. You just connect your iOS device to the stand and you’re ready to begin learning the piano. The Piano Apprentice has illuminated keys that help you learn, as well as stereo speakers for playing along with music. It works with a free piano teaching app, as well as other Core MIDI apps available from the App store.
Once you have your iPad standing upright or at a convenient typing angle, the urge may hit to jot down an idea or write a note directly on the touch screen. If you think you might like to sketch right on the iPad screen, the iLuv ePen Stylus for the iPad allows you to take notes, scribble and draw directly on the capacitive touch screen. Using an ePen stylus will prevent fingerprints and smudges. Plus, they come in a variety of colors and even feature a pocket clip for storing in a shirt pocket when not in use.
If you’re looking to combine the convenience of a stand with the protection of a case or folio, you’ll have several choices depending on the features you desire most. For those looking for stylish protection and flexible stand options, the Moshi iGlaze + VersaCover for new iPad (3rd gen), the iLuv Great Jeans Portfolio Case or the Joy Factory Folio360 III Case are all good options. They offer basic protection, compatibility with the iPad (3rd gen), a stylish design and multiple stand configurations. The iGlaze + VersaCover from Moshi features a hardshell case that protects the back of your new iPad from scratches, while the VersaCover’s soft microfiber lining protects the display. The VersaCover’s built-in magnet assembly supports the iPad’s automatic wake/sleep functions and doubles as a multi-functional stand. The folding design of the case lets you use your iPad in both portrait or landscape orientation. Plus, the case still provides unhindered access to the iPad controls and camera.
The iLuv Great Jeans Portfolio Case is also compatible with the iPad (3rd gen) and it’s available in multiple colors. The denim-finish exterior is both stylish and functional. The case features precision stitching and a micro-suede inner lining, and it affords access to all ports and controls. The integrated stand supports portrait or landscape orientation, as well as multiple tilt angles for both viewing and typing. The Joy Factory Folio360 III Case is compatible with both the iPad (3rd gen) and the iPad 2. It features an integrated stand with adjustable viewing angles. The case is wrapped in synthetic leather with a polished chrome closure for added style. It affords viewing in portrait or landscape orientation and you can even rotate your iPad 360 degrees around while it’s in the case. There’s also a MagConnect magnetic mounting dock that is compatible with the Joy Factory Home, Office and Auto Mounts.
While all these cases protect the touch screen on your iPad from damage when they’re closed, when they’re open the displays are vulnerable. One solution for protecting your display at all times is to install a clear screen or privacy screen over the glass surface. For a clear screen, Moshi offers the iVisor XT Screen Protector for the iPad (3rd gen) and iPad 2. The iVisor XT comes with either a white or black border to match your iPad color. It affords 100% bubble-free installation, as well as high transparency and unparalleled clarity. The treatment can be easily cleaned and then reapplied. It provides enhanced scratch protection and smooth finger-swipes without leaving behind fingerprint smudges.
For more privacy, 3M offers a Privacy Screen Protector for the iPad (3rd gen). It’s available in either portrait or landscape orientations and features a clear finish that supports high image clarity. 3M’s screen protectors block others from viewing your iPad touch screen without compromising functionality or your own vision. They are also equipped with stay-clean edge technology, which keeps your edges free from dust and grime. Both include a microfiber cloth for quick cleaning as well.
Another unique iPad accessory is the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. It offers a convenient way to protect your iPad (3rd gen) or iPad 2 when you're on the go, while also providing a Bluetooth wireless keyboard. The keyboard features shortcut keys and an integrated battery that can last for up to six months. The cover attaches securely to your iPad using a magnetic clip that’s aligned with the magnets in the iPad frame. It also automatically wakes up your iPad when you open the cover and puts it to sleep when you close it.
Probably one of the most interesting and exciting iPad case/stand combinations is the solar KudoCase from Wireless-NRG, LLC. This particular device is compatible with the iPad (3rd gen) and the iPad 2. The case is solar powered and offers an eco-friendly design that features clean-energy technology and material. It uses solar ink technology, which can draw energy from both indoor and outdoor light. The average iPad owner, who uses the device approximately 90 to 120 minutes a day, will enjoy usage times of up to 10 days before requiring another charge with the provided cable. It’s also equipped with a high-capacity 10A battery, built right into the case, which is used to store excess energy created by an available light source. There’s a USB port as well, which can be used for charging other USB devices including smart phones, digital cameras, tablets, MP3 players, etc. The environmentally minded iPad owner will delight at the organic solar panels and KudoCase housing, 80% of which is made from biodegradable grains and recycled plastics.
Although the solar panel is enough to make this case an attractive option, the manufacturers went all out and added several other convenient and clever features. The KudoCase features a built-in HDMI port, so whenever your iPad is in the case, you’ll be able to connect it to an HDMI cable and watch your video content in Full HD on any compatible HDTV. The case has an integrated stand function as well, which supports an upright movie-viewing angle and a low, 15-degree typing angle position. There is also a smart cover built in to the protective magnetic cover and the KudoCase is ultra-thin as well—at only 7/8 of an inch thick. Plus, if you can’t find your iPad while it’s in the KudoCase, you can use the integrated Whistle Locator to find it. All you have to do is whistle and the KudoCase will begin beeping to let you know where it is.
If you’re looking for a more conventional portable power source (with no case) for your iPad, then the Just Mobile Gum Max may be the go-anywhere portable charger for you. It works with all generations of the iPad, as well as all generations of the iPod and the iPhone. It also works with any other USB-powered smart phones, tablets or mobile devices. The Gum Max has an integrated 10,400 mAh capacity battery, LED power indicators, stylish aluminum shell and 2.1A power output for quick iPad charging. The device is Apple-certified and recharges via USB. It comes with a travel pouch, USB cable and iPad/iPod/iPhone sync-charge cable. It’s durable, compact and can deliver a quick charge for your iPad whenever and wherever you need it.
Another option for portable power is the Mophie Juice Pack Boost Powerstation for Smartphones & Tablets. The Powerstation is a 4000 mAh backup battery that’s compatible with your iPad, iPhone or iPod. It can also power most USB-powered mobile devices including smart phones and tablets. It’s equipped with switchable 500 mAh, 1 amp or 2.1 amp charging, depending on which device you’re using. Plus, there’s a six-light LED indicator that provides accurate battery life and charge-status levels. The Powerstation is wrapped in a soft-touch finish exterior with an attractive metal band that will match the aesthetic of your iPad.
This next iPad accessory combines USB and SD/SDHC memory card connectivity with a 30-pin dock connector plug that attaches to your iPad (3rd gen), iPad 2 or original iPad. The Xtreme Cables 2-in-1 Camera Connection Kit features an SD/SDHC memory-card reader and a USB port for transferring data from your digital camera directly to your iPad. It supports digital JPEG and RAW image files, as well as both SD/HD video formats including MPEG-4 and H.264. Once the 2-in-1 kit is connected, your iPad will automatically open up its photos app. This allows immediate import and export of your photos or videos. It also lets you select which photos/videos you want to import. You can even organize those pics and clips into albums. Plus, for added convenience, the 2-in-1 Camera Connection Kit even features a switch for selecting either SD/SDHC mode or USB mode. It would be hard to find a more convenient way to download your camera’s photos and videos directly onto your iPad.
The list of accessories above focuses on protection, power, music, video, photography, ease of use and travel. It’s a general roundup that functions more as an introduction to iPad accessories, rather than as a comprehensive list. Anyone looking for an extensive selection of iPad accessories should check the B&H website for a full list of available products.