Laptops

Accessories That Enhance the IPad

Apple may think that its iPad is magical and revolutionary, but it's far from perfect, requiring additional accessories and products to enhance its features and functions. Here's a bunch of the latest iPad accessories that have come across the desk recently:

Targus Stylus for Apple iPad ($15): The iPad's large screen is geared for your finger, of course, but eventually you get sick of cleaning off fingerprints (especially if your kids enjoy the iPad as well). This stylus has a soft rubber tip that doesn't leave fingerprints, and should remind mobile users of the stylus from the early days of the Palm Pilot. If you don't have an iPad, the stylus can work with any "capacitive touch surface", which covers pretty much any touchscreen device out there. The biggest problem is figuring out where to store it when not in use -- it's easy to lose this, just like a pen.

Otterbox Defender Series ($90): Another issue you may face if you have children around is the possibility of them dropping the iPad, so protecting the device needs to be more than just a sleeve or other case. Enter Otterbox, which makes excellent rugged cases for devices. Its Defender Series case for the iPad offers a bunch of different protection options, including a soft rubber outer cover, and then a harder protective case that goes over that. The design still allows for the use of all the buttons on the iPad, such as volume, power and so forth. Parts of the case can also be separated and then used as a stand for the device, and the system comes with a third protection layer, a thin plastic screen protector that can be affixed to the iPad screen. The package also includes a cloth wipe that can remove fingerprints. A good investment all around.

M-EDGE FlexStand for iPad ($30): Speaking of stands, this handy gadget gives you a lightweight and flexible way to prop up the iPad in a portrait or landscape position if you are looking to share the screen with others, or if you just get tired of holding it in your hands or your lap. The six arms include four with flexible rubber feet that attach to the corners of the iPad, and the other two legs can be adjusted to create the back part of the stand. While it takes some practice to get the stand to stay up correctly, the light weight of the device makes it appealing for mobile workers.

Macally 2-in-1 Bluetooth Keyboard and Stand ($100): I have mixed feelings about this. I love combination gadgets, so the combination of a Bluetooth keyboard and iPad stand is a nice touch. The keyboard's dust cover becomes the stand for the iPad, and it's very sturdy -- it can also be used with an iPhone. Powered by two (included!) AAA batteries, the keyboard's Bluetooth connection is very responsive as well -- I didn't notice any lag when typing on it. The problem, though, is the size of the keys. The small keys make it very difficult to touch type, and regularly used keys, like the delete and shift keys, are even smaller than the letter keys. At this price, a larger keyboard would definitely make this a winner.

Comments? kshaw@nww.com, Twitter: @shawkeith, or Facebook: http://bit.ly/cgVPsQ

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