If you’re the proud owner of a new iPad, here’s some good news. Because the third-generation version of Apple’s tablet is nearly identical to the iPad 2, the market is already flush with compatible accessories. But that also means there are so many options that you may not know where to start.
Not to worry. We’ve combed through the vast expanse of iPad accessories to come up with some recommendations for equipping your new tablet.
A good case can keep your iPad safe wherever you go, protecting it from accidental scrapes and drops during use. Some even include built-in stands to make it easier to watch videos or view photos hands-free. But beyond those basics, cases vary widely.
Case-keyboard options, such as this one from iLuv, are great for typing with protection
One thing to keep in mind is that the new iPad is the same height and width as, but slightly thicker than, its predecessor. This means that while most iPad 2 cases will fit the new model, those that are especially snug – so much so that the extra 0.6mm of thickness would make a difference – may not fit. So when buying such a case, make sure the manufacturer states that it fits the new iPad.
Apple’s Smart Cover (£35, www.apple.com/uk) remains a great choice if you don’t need full-body protection. It protects the screen, works with the tablet’s magnetic sleep/wake feature, and folds up to double as a typing or viewing stand.
Shells and skins generally cover the back and sides of your iPad, but not the screen. A sleeve is a padded pouch – sometimes with a rigid, screen-protecting insert – that protects your iPad inside another bag, such as a backpack, briefcase or messenger bag. Folio-style cases offer all-over, stylish protection for your iPad, but flip open for easy access to the screen. An iPad-specific bag or pack lets you carry your tablet along with your other gear, and you can use it to carry your daily stuff even when you aren’t taking your iPad with you. A carrying pack lets you carry more than just your iPad – such as a Bluetooth keyboard and some accessories – in a compact package.
Cases we recommend Be.ez LA robe Allure (£22.99, www.be-ez.com); Cygnett Lavish Earth (£39.95, uk.cygnett.com); Marware MicroShell Case (£23, www.marware.com); STM Skinny (£40, www.stmbags.com); Tom Bihn Ristretto ($125 – £76.80 – www.tombihn.com); WaterField Designs iPad Slip Case and iPad Smart Case ($29 and $59 – £17.90 and £36.30 – respectively, www.sfbags.com); WaterField Designs iPad Wallet ($79 – £48.40 – and up, www.sfbags.com).
The iPad’s screen is surprisingly scratch-resistant. But some people still worry enough to want some extra protection, while others prefer an antiglare coating. Screen films aim to address both concerns without affecting the sensitivity of the iPad’s multi-touch surface. Unfortunately, many films are difficult to apply, and some make glare or fingerprints worse.
We like the iVisor AG from Moshi for its antiglare finish and easy application process, while Power Support’s Crystal Film is among the toughest of the traditional films.
If you plan on using your iPad when you’re out and about, the Compass from Twelve South is a great portable stand
While we usually think of holding our iPads in our hands as we use them, there are plenty of times – while watching video or using an external keyboard, for example – when we’d prefer to prop up the tablet and view it hands-free. If your iPad’s case doesn’t include a stand, or if it doesn’t let you view the iPad in both portrait and landscape orientation, a dedicated stand is a convenient accessory to have on hand. The Compass and Xpo are great portable options; the @Rest, iRest and Stump Stand are ideal for a home or an office.
Stands we recommend Stump Stand (£19.95, www.stumpstore.com); Griffin Technology Xpo (£16.70, www.griffintechnology.com); Heckler Design @Rest ($49 – £30 – hecklerdesign.com); Rain Design iRest (£45, www.raindesigninc.com); Twelve South Compass (£40, twelvesouth.com).
If you use an iPad for serious work that includes text input, a real keyboard can make all the difference. The iPad supports almost any Bluetooth keyboard, but there are dozens made specifically for use with the device that include iPad-specific function keys and even integrated iPad cases.
Folio-case keyboards are the most common, integrating a keyboard into a folio-style case. They’re convenient, but most use small, cramped keyboards, and older offerings may not fit the new iPad perfectly. Clamshell keyboards place your tablet inside a hard plastic case that unfolds like a laptop. These tend to be bulky, with similarly cramped keyboards, and can make it hard to use your iPad as a tablet when you’re not typing text, but they offer lots of protection. Keyboard shells integrate a keyboard into a rigid shell that protects the front or back of the iPad while it’s in transit. When you’re ready to type, you pop the iPad out of the shell, prop it up, and start typing. The keys on these shells are usually small but decent.
Case-keyboard combos we recommend Adonit Writer Plus (£90, www.adonituk.com); Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover (£90, www.logitech.com/uk); iLuv iCK826UK Leather Case with Bluetooth Keyboard (£70, www.iluv.co.uk).
Standalone keyboards have to be carried separately, but most provide full-size keys in a standard layout. When you don’t need the keyboard, you can leave it behind.