Computers / Hands-on Review

iPad Accessories


Stocking stuffers don’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re catering to someone who is iPad-smitten. Though this product roundup ranges from the practical to the entertaining, every accessory here expands the ways you can use an iPad or iPad 2. Some of these accessories are unusual, too.

Speaker Docks

Take sound docks: these tabletop speaker systems charge your tablet even as they pump out music with a level of robustness to which an iPad’s own stunted speaker can only aspire. The JBL OnBeat in black or white contains computer-optimized digital signal processor optimization (DSP), equalization settings (EQ) and power output of 2 x 7.5 watts. It docks an iPad or iPad 2 in addition to an iPhone or iPod, with the supplied adapter clip. In addition to the 30-pin Apple connector, there’s an auxiliary audio input, a USB port and a composite video output (cable not included) for use with an external display. The JBL OnBeat comes with an infrared remote, external power supply and adapter clips for an iPod/iPhone and an iPad.

Unlike the OnBeat, which restricts an iPad to an upright (portrait) in-dock position, the PadDock 10 for iPad 2 from Interlink Electronics By SMK-Link lets you rotate the screen 360 degrees for the best viewing position. From the stand you can charge and sync the iPad 2 with your computer. There’s a switch that lets you choose charging without synching. And the stand tilts up and down 30 degrees for the optimal angle. The PadDock 10 for iPad 2 stand embeds back-facing speakers that increase stereo separation and a passive radiator that extends bass frequency. A volume control wheel with a power-off setting affords tangible control over your otherwise all-touch-screen experience.

Altec Lansing’s MP450 Octiv Stage subtracts the video output but adds an auxiliary audio input to its speaker/stand/dock. Dual two inch full-range neodymium drivers supply dynamic sound. The stand rotates 90 degrees. A credit-card-size remote and AC adapter are included.

Portable Speakers

Speaker docks are a great convenience when you pull into home port, but what about supplementing your iPad’s audio prowess between destinations? The iLuv iSP210 MusicPac Portable Stereo Speaker Case for iPad is your answer. It embeds stereo speakers in a zippered case suitable for carrying an iPad, iPad 2 or other mobile device. The audio signal is fed from the device’s earphone jack, and the speakers are powered by 4 AA batteries (not included). An external volume and power switch lets you control the sound from the case’s exterior. The iLuv iSP210 MusicPac Portable Stereo Speaker Case for iPad is available in black, blue or pink.

The Logitech Table Speaker for iPad also uses the 3.5mm audio output from an iPad, iPad 2 and other tablets, but the stand-alone speaker has a built-in rechargeable battery. A 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm audio cable, USB to Mini USB charging cable and soft travel case are included. According to Logitech, the battery will supply power for up to eight hours. A rubberized clip securely attaches the speaker to the tablet.

Multi-Device Charging Dock

Having a designated station to charge your devices overnight may make all the difference in remembering to keep your portables at peak power. The Power View Pro for iPad, iPod and iPhone from iSound is a multi-slip dock that accommodates four devices at once. Two dock ports are recessed atop the station, one behind another, so you can charge two iPads or iPad 2s at the same time. Or you can charge such other iOS devices as an iPhone and iPod touch. (Interchangeable dock adapters are in the box.) Additionally, there are two USB ports on the back for charging a variety of devices, including another iPad. The stand enables vertical and horizontal orientation of an iPad in case you desire in-dock screening. As for charging, the station’s LEDs indicate device power status; the station is equipped with overcharge protection. For more about charging stations, see the InDepth article, Charge All Your Devices in One Place.

Stands and Mounts

As smart as an iPad is, it doesn’t stand on its own accord or know the most comfortable way to position itself based on the needs of its human operator. That’s why the right stand can be an invaluable assistant, something you’ll appreciate the more hours you use your iPad. You could buy a case that doubles as a stand, but for the greatest flexibility you’ll want a dedicated stand—or cushion-type platform.

Intrinsic flexibility is found in the extremely malleable legs of a Joby Gorillamobile Yogi for iPad and Gorillamobile Yogi for iPad 2. The Yogi is a semi-case with attachable legs that hugs the back edge of your tablet in landscape or portrait mode. It’s up to you how to adjust the legs: bend them to change the viewing angle; knot them to hang the screen. For instance, you could suspend your iPad from a barre for viewing Black Swan during ballet class, or anchor it to a knee while beguiled by an iBook. 

Where more rigid support is desired, Joby offers the Gorillamobile Ori for iPad and Gorillamobile Ori for iPad 2. The Ori is a 16-ounce aluminum stand that doubles, when shut, as a full case for carrying your iPad securely. The tablet can be positioned horizontally or vertically, tilted or raised up as needed. For more information, see Two New Stands for the iPad 2.

Sometimes, though, you want something cushier than metal between you and your iPad. That’s where Vantage Point’s Basic Beanpad Stand for iPad 2 in black, pink or white comes in. Though a polycarbonate holder attaches to your iPad 2, just underneath is a cushy beanbag base for buffering the tablet from your lap or furniture. The weighted beanbag is pliable, easily contouring to a variety of surfaces and shapes. The bag also dampens vibrations from a vehicle or the road. The soft cushion and rounded edges make the Basic Beanpad safe for young children, furniture and rugs. It’s compatible with an iPad 2’s Smart Cover.

The softness you might feel in the Basic Beanpad extends to another stand: the typillow Lap Cushion with Secure iPad 2 Holder, from Accessory Workshop. The typillow features a charcoal-colored suede exterior and a secure drop-in iPad 2 holder. Micro-bead filling adjusts to provide a fit contoured to its surroundings. The square (17 x 17-inch) typillow is especially friendly while using an iPad 2 in bed, on the sofa or laid back on a shag carpet. It also makes an excellent traveling companion.

Meanwhile, Belkin has targeted kitchen use for a trio of iPad mounts and stands. The company reasons that whether you want information or entertainment while cooking or eating, the small screen nature of an iPad and versatility of apps make for a natural fit. One model lets you mount an iPad under a cabinet, another attaches an iPad 2 to a refrigerator door or other vertical surface and a third lets you use your iPad 2 with a washable stylus on a countertop.

The Belkin Kitchen Cabinet Mount for iPad (or other 7- to 10-inch tablet) attaches beneath a cabinet or shelf so you can stream music or your favorite cooking program, research a recipe or do anything else you do with your iPad without devouring valuable counter space. You can even have a video chat while you're cooking—without having to cradle the telephone handset in the crook of your shoulder. The mount doesn’t require tools or permanent installation. Alternatively, the Belkin Fridge Mount for iPad 2 lets you attach your iPad 2 to any metal surface to which a magnet will stick. The included 3M CommandStrips fix the mount to any smooth, vertical surface that's not magnetic. No tools are needed, and no holes are made. An inner magnetic strip snaps to the iPad 2’s own magnet and holds it firmly in place.

Belkin Under Cabinet Mount Belkin Fridge Mount Belkin Chef Stand

But if your fridge is covered in souvenir magnets and photos, the Belkin Chef Stand + Stylus for iPad 2  instead lets you perch your iPad 2 on an adjustable stand with a non-slip rubber base. You do need a bit of counter or table space. The included stylus, which stands tall in a built-in dock, is easy to grip and has a magnetic tip that can wake up your iPad 2 when it's time to switch on. The stand and stylus are both washable, so they’re simpatico with the messy hands of iron chefs.

Stylus Pens

No matter where you use your tablet, keeping a dedicated stylus handy not only disabuses one or more fingers, but the pen’s pointy tip is more precise than the blunt end of fat-encased cartilage. Like earphones, stylus pens come in a variety of colors and materials. The pens work with any capacitive touch screen, whether it’s an Apple device, an Android tablet or something else.

The Just Mobile AluPen in silver, blue, black, gold, pink, green, red or titanium is a pencil-shaped stylus with an ultra-soft rubber nib. The AluPen enables smooth, precise control, making the tool especially useful in drawing and painting apps. A carrying case is included. Alternatively, the Macally PenPal is specially designed for use with an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. Two different-size pens are included: a full-size aluminum stylus pen with clip and a mini stylus with quick-release cord from a bag or purse. By carrying two pens (one clipped to your shirt pocket; the other dangling from a shoulder strap), you’ll always be touch-screen ready.

For a step-up in stylus style, consider the Targus 3-in-1 Stylus for Capacitive Devices. The black pen with silver clip combines a durable rubber tip, compatible with any touch screen, a real ballpoint pen that uses Parker Ballpoint ink cartridge refills and a laser pointer that lets you highlight content from a distance with a beam of light. (The pen takes an included LR41 button battery.) Despite so much functionality, the Targus 3-in-1 is just 5.27 inches long, the diameter 0.5 inches at its widest, and the weight is a mere 1.9 ounces.

Anti-Theft Device

When you want the assurance that your iPad 2 will stay put, an anti-portability accessory is just the thing. The Kensington SecureBack Security Case with ClickSafe Lock for iPad 2 is built to prevent unwanted hands from prying your hardware loose. A built-in security anchor and lock keeps an iPad 2 secure without interfering with the tablet’s 30-pin connector, buttons or cameras. It comes with a protective case. Sometimes peace of mind is worth an accessory’s every cent.

Retro Gaming Cabinet with Joystick

The Ion iCADE Arcade Cabinet for iPad lets you slip your iPad or iPad 2 into a tabletop version of a 1980s arcade parlor games machine. Once you assemble the cabinet, you pair the iCade’s physical controllers to the tablet through the iPad’s Bluetooth settings and download Atari’s Greatest Hits from the iTunes App Store. Among the games are Centipede, Asteroids, Battlezone, Tempest, Championship Soccer and Pong. (Though Missile Command is free, 4-packs of additional games are available for a minimal charge; the complete 99-game app is also available for a slightly higher charge.) Then, instead of fingering the screen, you grab hold of the joystick and spend countless hours immersed in another time—quarters-free.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this bounty of iPad accessories, please post them in the Comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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how about CF and SD card readers for photo viewing?

Currently, there is not a CF card reader available for the iPad. Apple does have a Camera Connection Kit available. This will read SD/SDHC/SDXC cards. For cameras that do not support the SD format, you can connect your camera via USB to the Camera Connection Kit. This will allow you to import your images, and supported video directly to the camera roll.

Photojojo has iPad SD &CF card readers, $40.

I have one of these CF readers for my iPad2 and it works great.