While we were looking for BHSM 2014 app deals using an iPad Air, we suddenly wondered if our followers here at iSPeak App have questions regarding accessories for their iOS devices. Accessories can range from the downright affordable to the ridiculously expensive ones, and there are a LOT of them out there. Most accessories we can do without, and some of them are basic tech needs, such as a screen protector or an iPad case. There are times however when a travelling allied healthcare professional (or any travelling professional who totes an iPad) will absolutely need a wireless keyboard, an extra-protective iPad case, or even a powerbank just to make sure work is done on the road. When it comes to an item that can help one become more productive, any buyer is sure to justify a planned purchase.
We spend extra hours online reading up on what accessories are recommended, what the reviews say, and where to get a better deal. We here at iSPeak App have researched, purchased, and used several accessories… accessories that have so far gotten our return of investment. Read on and tell us if you recommend something equivalent or better:
For iPad stands, we recommend the Belkin Flipblade Stand.
We got this on sale around the time when the iPad 1 was on its way out. It folds into roughly the size of an iPhone 5. Press on the tab and it slowly folds out to accommodate any tablet or smartphone the width of an iPad 1 or thinner. Position your device in portrait or landscape. The newer version is the Belkin Flipblade Adjust.
- Pros: Sturdy, compact, pocketable.
- Cons: Holds devices at one fixed angle only.
For wireless keyboards, we recommend the Apple bluetooth keyboard.
We had initially wanted to go for Logitech or Belkin keyboards since we are not fond of clamshell / laptop case keyboards. After doing a lot of reading, we finally decided that getting one from Apple will 1) more or less guarantee seamless connectivity between two products that come from the same company, 2) backed by a reliable warranty service, and 3) will withstand serious report-writing sessions. So, we let go of $69.00 with a deep sigh. Pairing it via bluetooth to three different iPads of different generations–one at a time of course–was seamless. We used it to fire off iMessages via the iPhone 5. Use it with rechargeable batteries and you’re good to go.
- Pros: Thin, light, and the chiclet keys are a joy to type on.
- Cons: A bit expensive. Aluminium body is susceptible to dents and chipping if one is not too careful.
Since the Apple keyboard must have some sort of protection, for keyboard cases we recommend the Incase Origami Workstation.
We couldn’t find a shop that distributed this locally so we got one from Amazon. Its primary purpose is to house an Apple wireless keyboard, and it does its job pretty well in protecting it. Its secondary job is to serve as an iPad stand as well. Flip the case open, fasten the Velcro’d tabs together at the back to form a triangle, and it holds the iPad at angle comfortable enough to view while typing on the keyboard. It looks like you just transformed your iPad into a laptop, but the iPad does not have to be encased with the keyboard.
- Pros: Thin, light yet sturdy enough to protect your precious Apple keyboard and supports the iPad really well.
- Cons: Does not protect the keyboard’s sides, so be mindful as to where you pack this in your bag. Keep the keyboard away from liquids.
For powerbanks, we recommend the Anker Astro 3E Powerbank:
Powerbanks have got to be one of the most useful accessories to invest on, given how power-hungry our devices are. Brands are aplenty: Momax, iBatt, Belkin, YooBao, Lepow. Our local Macintosh users group, www.philmug.ph, has been giving Anker’s powerbanks several thumbs up for its reliable and efficient charge-recharge function and
they deliver the advertised
charge. The variant we have, the Astro 3E, packs 10,000 mAh–a pittance compared to what the market is putting out now like its 12,000 mAh cousin the Anker 2nd Gen Astro3. But we’ve used it with an iPhone 3GS,
iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, iPad 2, iPad Air, and iPad Mini. It has indicator lights and two USB ports thathave respective power outputs for iOS and Android devices. The Astro 3E can recharge a discharged iPhone 5 nearly 4x before it loses its own charge. Need to charge two devices at a time? No problem, if you don’t mind slower charging times. It comes with a set of adapters that allows one to charge other devices such as Nokia and Blackberry phones as well as Kindles. We use our iPad powerbrick to charge it up.
- Pros: Excellent price point per mAh, sturdy, delivers advertised power capacity, comes with several charging adapters.
- Cons: Slightly bigger than an iPhone 5 and is significantly heavier, powerbank itself takes up to 8 hours to charge up from zero to full.
Need to recharge your device but hate wrestling with wires? Get a looped micro USB charging cable and pair it with an Apple Lightning to Micro USB Adapter.
Apple’s lightning cables aren’t exactly famous for their durability, and we have resorted to
reinforcing it with ballpen springs and paper fastener sticks. Those cables are a bit painful on the pocket to lose, too, especially since not all third-party lightning cables will work on your iOS devices. Anyway, to prolong our cables’ lives, we took out our Anker Astro 3E powerbank’s coiled micro USB charging cable, fitted in the provided micro USB adapter, then got an Apple lightning to micro USB adapter. So while on the road, we just bring one charging (and stretchable) cable to charge four devices: an iPhone 5, an iPad Air, a powerbank, and a Kindle Paperwhite. The longer lightning cable can sit at home where it will be stretched and abused less.
- Pros: Simplifies life by reducing the cables we bring.
- Cons: A bit expensive for such a tiny adapter, can easily get lost so please don’t sneeze on it.
For gadget organizers, we recommend the Cocoon Grid-It.
If you’re an organizer-freak, then this one’s for you. Grid-It comes in various sizes, and some even come with a neoprene sleeve behind it to pack an iPad into. What we got was big enough to accommodate two charging cables, an iPhone, a powerbank, USB drives, pens, markers, an iPhone charger and an iPad powerbrick. A small notebook can be placed in the zippered compartment behind the Grid-It. Organize your stuff nice and tight and slip the entire thing into your bag.
- Pros: Puts small things nice and tidy where you can see them.
- Cons: You’ll need a few seconds to slip things under the stretchy bands as compared to the time needed to stuff them in a pouch but hey, one derives a certain joy in putting things in a tightly organized space.
For iPad sleeves, we recommend the ACME-Made Skinny Sleeve. We like folio-type iPad cases. But when our young clients use our iPads, the folio cover tends to get in the way. We have used the Apple iPad SmartCover before, and while its magnetised attachment makes it easy to practically tear the cover off the iPad prior to handing the device to a child, we’ll be honest: they cost. So, what we did was we got a cheap silicone back cover for our iPad Air, and looked for the thinnest iPad sleeve out there. Enter ACME-Made Skinny Sleeve because, really, what’s the point of getting an iPad when you protect it with a thick, bulky cover? Slip off the Skinny Sleeve’s band, get the iPad, put it on the Belkin Flipblade stand, and we’re ready to work.
- Pros: Thin yet protective.
- Cons: Not a snug fit for iPad Air. ACME recommends their Skinny Book for the iPad Air. But the Skinny Book’s a folio-type, not a sleeve.
For styli, we recommend the Adonit Jot Mini.
As far as we know, most styli out there are rubber-tipped. The broad-point rubberised tips of these styli can interfere with fine-point writing. Adonit’s line of Jot styli features a fine metal tip on which a tiny, thin clear disc is attached. The disc serves as a protective shield between the Jot’s sharp point and the iOS device’s screen but it also allows the user to see through the disc while writing. We have used the Jot Mini on the app Bamboo Paper, on the Noteshelf app and used its various pens and stroke types. It frankly was a joy to use… if only we didn’t worry so much about losing the tiny disc. We were curious about their newly-released fine point stylus, the Adonit Script, but we realized it was even more expensive than the Apple Keyboard.
- Pros: Brings the feeling of writing real notes using a pen.
Replacement discs can be bought separately.
- Cons: Not for use by small children since the tiny disc can easily snap off and vanish. Fragile tip.
There are many other accessories that we could have included here, but the ones we’ve mentioned are what we believe the most useful, durable, and compact. Do you have accessories that you’d recommend we try out and perhaps feature? Leave a comment below