ipad-accessories
Image by BlackberryUS via Flickr

I’ve been resisting buying every case, stand and accessory that has come out for the iPad, although the temptation has been great.  However, I thought I’d share a quick post about the things that I have picked up so far and my thoughts about them.  For the most part, they fall under two categories:  Displaying the iPad and displaying what’s ON the iPad.  Oh yeah, and one other miscellaneous accessory thrown in at the end.

Displaying the iPad

When you first unwrap your iPad, it’s so beautiful that you know you must protect it.  A single scratch is enough to bring tears to the eyes of devoted Fanboys/Fangirls everywhere….  Ok, ok, I exaggerate a bit.  But that said, you will definitely want to invest in some sort of protection.  I personally don’t go for screen protectors.  While it does attract fingertips BIG TIME, that glass feels so smooth I hate to put something that’s going to detract from the experience.  That’s my opinion, but I know many will argue vehemently that it needs some sort of screen protection.  That’s up to you.

However, you will definitely want some sort of case or sleeve.  At first, I really had no idea what I wanted.  But I knew I needed something.  I decided to go simple and picked up the Waterfield Designs Suede Jacket.  It’s $21 shipped, which is about as cheap as you can get.  Basic suede sleeve that feels great, has small loops making it easy to get the iPad in and out of it and can even be used to wipe the screen clean!  No padding, nothing fancy.  Protects the screen and back and not much more.  But it worked quite well as a temporary solution for a few months until I decided what case I wanted to actually invest in.

The other short term solution I invested in was a basic wire book stand from Fellows.  I think it was about 5 bucks shipped.  Once again, nothing fancy, but it let me prop up my iPad when not in use to serve as a digital picture frame.  Also came in handy when using it in the kitchen for recipes.  Not exactly elegant, but highly functional.

Both of those have been retired and replaced by the case that I’m currently using.  After months of deliberation (literally), I wound up settling on the I-Nique Tuff-Luv Multiview Case in Saddleback leather.  What I really like about this case is that it has a flip cover that snaps closed, a decent amount of padding and it leaves all ports and buttons wide open.  However, the best part about it is the stand feature.  Through a series of snaps and flaps, it can be propped open in 5 different positions and it actually locks in.  Unlike many cases which just prop up the iPad, this one is sturdy enough to withstand turbulence, bumps by a small child and minor earthquakes.  That was a must for me.  While you can stand it up in portrait position, it really isn’t meant to.  So far, I haven’t missed that.  However, if you DO need that, there’s a newer model of the same case that is called the Tuff-Luv Bi-Axes that has some sort of a split in the case that allows you to prop it up in portrait mode at an angle.  The case comes in a decent number of leather variations, including faux leather if you like.  Consequently, prices vary.  Personally, I knew that I was going to be carrying this around quite a bit.  I wanted it to feel good and I wanted it to look good.  So I sprung for the Saddleback leather, which unfortunately seems to be unavailable right now.  I can’t tell you how many people told me at ISTE that it was the nicest case they’ve seen yet.  Personally, I agree and recommend it wholeheartedly.

One last thing before I wrap this section up.  Decals 🙂  Before I put my iPad in it’s current case, I wanted some way to customize my iPad just a touch, to distinguish it from the others that were out there.  For that, I recommend browsing the decals available on Etsy.com.  There are some really amazing ones there and they’re pretty darn reasonable.  I liked the look of the Ace of Apples, so I picked that one up.  Here’s a few of my other favorites.  And don’t worry, they’re easy to remove when you get tired of them.

Displaying What’s on the iPad:

The two accessories that I’ve purchased for displaying what’s on the iPad screen are the official VGA Dock Connector from Apple and the Point 2 View document camera.

Regarding the VGA connector, it does exactly what you’d expect it to…. sorta.  It will project what’s on  your iPad screen through a projector.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t send just anything through the connector.  In fact, there’s only a few apps provided by Apple that work with it.  The Videos, Photos and YouTube apps will display media through the VGA connector, as well as the Keynote App (when in Slideshow mode).  Safari will only output video content through the VGA connector, which is a major disappointment.  However, where Apple dropped the ball, other developers are picking up the pieces.   If you do a search in iTunes for “VGA” you’ll find a decent number of them.  In particular, my favorite two so far are Expedition and GoodReader, both of which I wrote about previouslyKathy Schrock has created a Google Doc where people can see other apps she has found that work with the VGA connector, and contribute to it if you see that something is missing.

If you actually have to host a session on the iPad itself, you’ll probably want to project more than the VGA connector will allow you to.  If that’s the case, you have two options: 1) Jailbreak it or 2) Get a document camera.  I’m going to cover jailbreaking in an upcoming post, so we’ll come back to that.  As for a document camera, I picked up the Point 2 View based on the recommendation of several sites including handheld guru Tony Vincent.  So far, it seems to do a pretty decent job.  While it supports high resolution, I’ve had problems getting it to output consistently on anything higher than 640×480.  I’m not sure if that’s the fault of the camera or my computer though.  That said, it’s really intended to be used to take still photos of objects, but does a very nice job with the iPad.  It comes with a clip as well as a weighted stand and can bend into a variety of positions.  You can lock the focus on the iPad itself, so when your hand gets in the way it won’t try to refocus in on it.  It’s really small and perfect to travel with.  And of course, it works with both Mac and PC.  Price isn’t bad at all either, setting you back just $70.  There’s no light or fancy features, but it picks the screen up pretty darn well without it.  While I haven’t had it long, so far it has met my expectations.  Just be careful about that resolution.  Set it too high and it will freeze up.  And since it is just a document camera,  you can always use it for other classroom purposes as well!  Oh, by the way… it says that it’s sold out on their website, but it’s still shipping through Amazon.

Misc.

Didn’t know what to categorize this, so it gets it’s own category.  Since I got the iPad, I thought it would be great for hand written note taking.  However, I just haven’t been such a fan of writing with my finger.  Just didn’t feel right.  I figured I’ll pick up a stylus somewhere and make use of that.  Trouble is, due to the nature of the iPad screen you can’t just use a regular stylus.  You need one that is conductive, that mimics the human finger in some way that I don’t understand.  Pogo sells one for $15 that will work for all iDevices including the iPad.  I stopped by a video game store and found one for about half that price.  And it does work… but poorly.  The trouble is, it needs to be semi-spongy like the human finger.  It’s also rubbery.  So when you try to write with it, you have to drag it along and there’s a ton of resistance.  The only thing I can compare it to is like trying to write in wet sand.  You can do it, it just isn’t pleasant.  If you’re just tapping through the menus and such, the stylus works great.  Perfect for people that have muscle control issues and would prefer to grip something than use their finger.  But for writing or drawing?  I’d pass on it.

Wrapping up

So that’s it so far!  I haven’t tried out the Camera kit yet so I can’t vouch for that.  If you’ve used that, or have your own thoughts on iPad accessories, share them below.  What case are you using on your iPad and how you liking it?

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