There have been endless posts about iPad accessories like cases or Bluetooth keyboards on all sorts of websites, but most people already have a case or a keyboard. With Christmas just around the corner, finding a unique gift for an iPad owner — or even an interesting new toy for yourself — can often prove more difficult than it should. In an effort to help you find an accessory that fills in a need you didn’t know you had, we’ve decided to compile a roundup of our favourite iPad and iPad mini accessories that go beyond Bluetooth keyboards and Smart Covers.
Jawbone’s Jambox series of speakers are making big waves for their sound quality and their elegant designs. They’re a little pricey, but they’re among the best in their class. Apart from sounding great and looking good, they are extremely portable and play music via Bluetooth connections, so that all your devices (iPad or otherwise) can wirelessly connect. They’re great for kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms or anywhere else you may want to listen to music. Bluetooth offers a better connection, in my experiences, than Apple’s AirPlay solution does, and it doesn’t require a Wi-Fi connection to work properly.
The Apple TV has been around for over half a decade now (it was first introduced in 2006), but its latest refinement makes a great entry point for the media centre. It finally features 1080P HD, and takes full advantage of every pixel of your HDTV. It’s a tremendous bang for your buck. Not only does it operate as an Apple-centric media centre, it also plays really well with your iPad. Any iOS device on the same Wi-Fi network can stream music, video or mirror the display entirely onto a television to share whatever content is on your iPad with friends and family.
Requires: Wi-Fi, HDTV
The Smarter Stand Kickstarter project is the first product I ever backed on the famous website. If you own a Smart Cover (or a Smart Case) and aren’t happy with their limited positions, then this product is for you. Basically, it employs two custom designed plastic clips specially designed to avoid damaging your iPad screen. They sit on either side of the Smart Cover and slide along the edge, sitting over the folds in the polyurethane (or leather) to avoid letting them roll over as they normally would. It’s simple and brilliant.
In my time with the Smarter Stand, I haven’t experienced any scratches or anything like that on the iPad display. The only issue I have with them is that the product can occasionally feel cumbersome (particularly the Clips) when holding the iPad. The Smarter Stand also comes with a sticky grip that sits on the aluminum bottom of iPads. The sticky pad doesn’t leave any residue if you want to take it off, but the additional grip that it provides is actually a huge perk when you use the iPad for reading. Easily worth the $15.
Requires: Smart Cover/Case, iPad or iPad Mini
Manufacturer: Smarter Stand
I am a big fan of TwelveSouth’s BookBook Case lineup. The cases are expensive, but feature premium designs and premium build quality. The cases are all leather hardbacks and sophisticatedly hide your expensive tablet in what looks like an old, well-loved book. The beauty of the design is in its details. The binding, the lettering – all these things are top-notch and remind me more than a little of an old Bible.
There’s a handle for one-handed reading and the book-case also doubles as a multi-angle stand for the iPad itself. In public, the case disguises your iPad from would-be thieves, but it also becomes a work tool. That kind of multipurpose use in a single package is exactly the sort of thing that separates top-tier products from the rest.
Price: $69.99 (iPad Mini) and $79.99 (iPad)
Requires: iPad 2 or newer; iPad Mini
I am a big fan of TwelveSouth’s products, so don’t be surprised to see a couple more from them on here. Their Compass stand for iPad might be the king of all basic-utility stands. It’s made out of high-grade steel, so it can easily support your tablet without any risk of it falling over. It allows you to display your iPad vertically or horizontally, and it also lowers itself (like the Smart Cover) to become the perfect height for typing.
This is the sort of case for people who want something a little sturdier and more professional than the Smart Cover without breaking the bank on a case. As far as stands go, you’re not likely to find anything with sturdier construction than the Compass. (Also, it comes with a travel bag — nice touch!)
Requires: any iPad or iPad Mini
The HoverBar is brilliant. Also from TwelveSouth, the accessory allows you to clip your iPad to desktop monitors, dining room tables, office desks or kitchen counters. The iPad sits in the HoverBar and quite literally appears to hover while you work.
There are two real huge draws here, at least to me: the first is for use in the kitchen. Watching videos or reading off an iPad cookbook app without worrying about splatter from the tomatoes is a nice perk (of course, I could just use a real cookbook, but the iPad just seems too cool to not use it). The other obvious situation is to pair it with an iMac or similarly-built all-in-one computer or monitor and use the iPad as a second display of sorts. The iPad obviously makes a great second display for any PC, and this accessory just made that seem a lot more sensible.
Requires: iPad 2 or newer
The Mophie Powerstand is essentially a stand and workstation that doubles as a power station for your iPad. Anybody who has used Mophie Products before knows that they are well-built, sturdy devices. The PowerStand is versatile — it allows the iPad to sit at just about any angle for reading, working or media consumption — and is an incredibly well-built product.
The big bummer to the PowerStand is that it only works with 30-pin devices, so the newest iPad won’t work. Of course, it isn’t available yet for the iPad mini, either. That being said, if what you’re looking for is a beautiful stand that also charges your third-generation iPad (or older), you owe it to yourself to check the Mophie PowerStand out.
Requires: iPads with 30-pin dock connector
Apple used to sell this as a kit (which is still available and highly recommended if you have an iPad with a 30-pin dock connector), but if you have the newest iPad or the iPad Mini, the Lightning connector will likely require a new sort of camera attachment. I love popping the SD card out of my camera and checking out my pictures on my iPad, particularly because of the Retina display. It makes it really easy to decide what kind of pictures to keep and what ones to delete. Also, the pictures will sync right back up with your computer next time you plug in your device.
Any photographer would love something like this for sheer portability. Any opportunity to dump a laptop and take something a little more compact is, in my opinion, always welcome.
Requires: iPad Mini or 4th-generation iPad
When I went looking for a relatively inexpensive stylus, I settled after about a week on the Bamboo Stylus Solo. There’s a ton of styluses out there, so this may be met with some derision, but this is the one that I recommend. I think styluses have a lot to improve, particularly in the thickness and sensitivity of their tips (the Stylus Solo is as thick as any other stylus), but I’ve never havd any problems with the sensitivity level of the Stylus Solo. Beyond that, the tips are replaceable. If you use your stylus a lot, you’re likely to eventually lose their tips, and to my knowledge, the Bamboo Stylus Solo is the only one with inexpensive replaceable tips. That gives it a huge plus in my book.
The WINGStand is another Kickstarter project that really fits a niche need. Like many people, my iMac came with the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard. As a result, it’s always been the keyboard I use with my iPad when I need to write something seriously on the go. I’ve always needed another case or stand for the iPad, though. The WINGStand solves that problem. It connects to the iPad and to the Bluetooth keyboard and allows you to instantly set up a highly portable and stylish workstation without any clutter. The design appears obvious, which means that if (of course) probably wasn’t. It also acts as a stand if you don’t have a keyboard ready or don’t need one, and it can be a stand for iPhones as well.
The WINGStand isn’t just limited to iPhones or iPads as well. If you or anybody in your family (heaven forbid!) have Android products, this is compatible with a few of those too. Check out the website for a full list.
Requires: Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and any iPad or iPhone
What Did We Miss?
Are there any accessories you’ve got to have? Anything that you love? Let us know in the comments below!