It goes without saying that 2010 is the year of the iPad.
Despite the recession-y conditions in which it was unveiled, Apple’s new tablet device has been the most successful product launch in the company’s history – even bigger than the iPhone launch just a few years ago. Tech-industry analyst iSuppli expects nearly 13 million iPads to ship to consumers by the end of the year, an amazing 82 percent increase from predictions it made as recently as April.
In spite of skepticism about what the device can do, iPad buyers are finding all sorts of uses, from e-mail and watching first-run movies to reading newspapers, magazines and books.
Just like the iPhone, dozens of companies, including Apple itself, are rolling out accessories to jump on the iPad phenomenon. There are cases to protect the device from scratches and screen breakage, devices to prop it up for watching movies and typing, and some gadgets that do both. Here’s a survey of some of the most interesting accessories available for the iPad this holiday season:
Apple also offers a number of accessories that add more utility to the iPad. While it makes a great device for viewing photos, the fact that it lacks both an actual camera and a USB port make it difficult to import images directly to the iPad. Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit is the solution. It consists of two small adapters that each plug into the charging connector at the bottom. One has a USB port, and the other a slot for an SD card that lets you move your images quickly onto the iPad.
Price: $29, apple.com and Apple Retail Stores
If you do serious writing you’ll want Apple’s iPad Keyboard Dock. The on-screen keyboard is good for a paragraph or two, but it’s difficult to do cut and past and precisely move the cursor around. The aluminum keyboard has a built-in dock that holds the iPad erect and charges it at the same time. You can also use it to connect the iPad to a TV.
Price: $69, apple.com and Apple Retail Stores
The Waterfield Suede Jacket is a lightweight sleeve with a small pocket for headphones and small accessories. It’s the least intrusive way to carry your iPad, but protecting it against drops is not part of the jacket’s design. Waterfield, which manufactures all of its products in the USA, also has cases for Kindles, iPods and iPhones.
Price: $25, sfbags.com
Griffin Technology’s Elan Passport Folio is a durable folio that opens like a book to access the iPad. It’s made of leather-look textured vinyl with a suede lining and contains pockets for business cards and papers.
Price: $49.99, griffintechnology.com to purchase and find retailers
Brenthaven’s 5-in-1 iPad Case provides a hard shell for protection, a horizontal viewing stand for watching movies, a typing stand, and a handle to secure the iPad while reading.
Price: $59.95, brenthaven.com
Incase offers a Convertible Book Jacket that works much like Apple’s case, though it carries a little more bulk. It’s made of a heavy black, leather-like vinyl with a microsuede lining, and, like the Apple case, functions as a stand with adjustable viewing positions when its cover is flipped around the back.
Price: $59.95, incase.com
The iSkin Vu Case is a shell that combines soft rubber material with hard transparent plastic to envelope the edges and back of the iPad. It comes in variety of colors and has a door at the bottom that opens for charging.
Price: $64.99, iskin.com to purchase and find retailers
If you’re going to use the iPad for reading you’ll likely want a way to prop it up, since it’s quite a bit heavier than eReaders such as the nook and Kindle. (Said weight and the difficulty of reading in bright sunlight are two of the few criticisms of the iPad, and one reason why the sales of eBook readers like the Kindle continue to be robust.)
The Twelve South Compass offers an ultra-portable solution to prop up an iPad on a desk or, for the jet-setter, on an airplane tray. It’s a compact folding stand made out of aluminum that angles the iPad for viewing or typing. It’s beautifully constructed of aluminum, much like the iPad itself, and comes with its own carrying case. The best part? It folds down to the size of a 6-inch ruler.
Price: $39.99, twelvesouth.com to find retailers
Levenger’s Thai Pad is a lightweight wedge-shaped silk cushioned pillow especially designed to prop up your iPad … or Kindle, nook or other e-Reader. It sits on your lap and positions the device at the perfect angle. Works great while sitting in a chair or in your bed.
Price: $39, levenger.com to purchase or find retailers
Other iPad accessories
Popular new consumer electronics don’t just help the economy by getting people spending, they also put new businesses on the map –Modulr being one of them. The Louisville, Ky.-based company sprung up and into the iPad accessories market with its ModulrCase line of products that includes a plastic iPad with a removable front cover, a desk stand and a wall-mount (think following along recipes while you cook). Available individually or as a package, the cases allow you to use the iPad on the go, at a desk, or even mounted on the wall.
Price: $19 to $59 individually/$99 package, modulrcase.com
The Cradle iPad Lap Desk is an attractive accessory used while sitting in a chair. It’s constructed of sustainable bamboo plywood and has a turntable built into the top for rotating your iPad between landscape and portrait modes. A soft cushion on its bottom rests on your lap.
Price: $58, quirky.com
To keep it all together, grab the Incase Travel Kit Plus. It’s designed to carry an iPad, keyboard, cables and other accessories in one organized case with pockets and holders for everything.
Price: $59.95, incase.com for retailers