The iPad Accessories Guide

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Both Useful and Cool iPad Accessories

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If you are using your pet as an iPad stand, it might be time to accessorize. Photo © Veronica Belmont and licensed under creative commons.

Want something cool for your iPad? Need a gift idea for an iPad addict? We won't waste much time with iPad cases or wireless keyboards here. You probably bought a case when you bought your iPad (or soon thereafter), and if you really needed a keyboard, you probably already bought it, right? So what else can an iPad do for you? Plenty.

We'll start off with some accessories that make great gifts for birthdays, holidays, or whatever excuse you want to make up for buying yourself a present. These are fun accessories, with a bit of everything included in the list.

  • Anki Drive. Playing race cars as a kid used to mean pushing tiny cars around imaginary tracks. And then electric race tracks allowed us to sit back and watch the action. Nowadays, we can just have our iPad control everything. The Anki Drive system takes race cars to the next level, allowing cars to not only pass rivals, but even shoot at them.
  • Apple Pencil.  If you are the proud owner of an iPad Pro, you may want to invest in the Pencil.  It is the stylus-that-isn't-a-stylus.  It uses specialized communication between the Pencil and the screen to act like a stylus but offer great precision and new capabilities. 
  • Perfect Drink. Another great gift for an iPad owner is the Perfect Drink system, which lets your iPad and a smart scale combine to help you make drinks you thought only a bartender could make. You can even have it form a list of great drinks based on the alcohol and ingredients you have available.
  • Atari Arcade for iPad. Want to give the gift of some good, old-fashioned fun? You can cheaply and easily turn an iPad into an arcade with the Atari Arcade. It's a special dock that includes a joystick for playing some of the classics.
  • WLTOYS S215 Micro Helicopter with Spy Camera. A remote controlled helicopter with a built in camera using your iPad as a remote? Sign me up. There are a number of really cool remote-controlled helicopters on the market, so you have a little to choose from here, but the idea of a nice video camera attached to review your flying sounds awesome. 
  • Satechi BT MediaRemote. Let's go from using the iPad as a remote control to using a remote on the iPad. The Satechi BT MediaRemote will let you control music, including skipping tracks and adjust volume. You can also control the playback of streaming movies, even if they are being streamed from Netflix or Amazon Prime. You can also activate Siri if you have any questions that need answering. This is great if you want to hook your iPad up to your TV or to your speaker system but still want to control it from the couch. You can also use the Satechi remote to take pictures with your iPad.
  • More Fun Gift Ideas. If this list has you itching but hasn't quite scratched it yet, you'll want to check out the full gift guide for iPad owners. Otherwise, keep reading for some great speakers, headphones an other fun accessories.

Next: The Most Popular Accessories for the iPad

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A Look at Popular iPad Accessories

Let's face it, if you haven't yet bought a case for your iPad, you need to do so.  It's rather expensive and rather easy to drop.  I love Apple's Smart Cases for their ability to keep the iPad protected while keeping it thin and light, but when I went to buy a case for my daughter's iPad, I went with an OtterBox Defender.  There are other popular accessories like keyboards, keyboard cases and styluses for writing and/or drawing on the iPad.  We'll take a look at some popular choices.

How to Childproof Your iPad

The Most Popular iPad Accessories

  • Apple Smart Case. Apple introduced the Smart Cover with the iPad 2. The Smart Cover could wake up your iPad when opened, but it didn't exactly protect your iPad. The Smart Case has the same cool feature of the Smart Cover but with the added protection of a form-fitting case.
  • OtterBox Defender. A nice combination of protection and functionality, the OtterBox Defender series with both provide you with piece of mind and double as an iPad stand.
  • Apple's Wireless Keyboard. The de facto standard in iPad keyboards comes from Apple. The wireless keyboard designed for Macs works great as an iPad keyboard, and is perfect for those who also have a Mac Mini or iMac where it can do double duty.
  • Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover.  The iPad Air 2 is the thinnest iPad yet, and so what better way to augment it than with a thin keyboard cover?  You may want the functionality of a keyboard, but you don't want the bulk of a laptop, which is what you get from some keyboard cases.  Logitech's solution isn't just one of the lightest and thinnest, it is also relatively cheap.  
  • Cosmonaut Stylus.  You know those Microsoft Surface and Samsung Galaxy Note commercials where they brag about the stylus?  This is nothing new for iPad owners.  The iPad may not come with one, but it can sure use them.  The Cosmonaut is popular because it is a nice combination of easy to use and cheap.  

Next: iPad Accessories Sold By Apple

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iPad Accessories Sold By Apple

If you are buying your iPad online from Apple.com or going to one of the many Apple stores around the world, here are some accessories you may want to come home with in addition to your new tablet.  The most important accessory is a case, but even if you opt for a case made by another manufacturer, there are plenty of cool accessories you can pick up for your iPad.  

  • Apple Smart Cover.  The Smart Cover allows you to protect the iPad's display and wake it up by flipping the cover back.  It can also be used as a keyboard stand, but unfortunately, doesn't afford much protection to the rest of your iPad.  
  • Apple Smart Case.  The Smart Case is a Smart Cover that extends its protection to the rest of your iPad.  While a bit more expensive, it is well worth the extra price.  
  • Apple TV. Believe it or not, Apple TV may be one of the best accessories you can buy for your iPad.  You can use AirPlay to transfer your screen to your TV, which allows you to play games, view apps or stream movies to your iPad and watch them on your HDTV.  Buy an Apple TV from Best Buy.
  • Camera Connection Kit.  While described as a way to transfer photos from your camera to the iPad, the Camera Connection Kit essentially turns that strange port at the bottom of your iPad into a USB port.   You can't use it for just anything, but it works if you want to connect your iPad to a MIDI device.  You can even plug in a wired keyboard using the camera connection kit.  
  • Digital AV Adapter.  The Digital AV Adapter is essentially an HDMI cable for your iPad, allowing you to hook it up to your TV.  The cable also has an extra Lightning or 30-pin adapter connected so you can still connect your iPad to a charging device to keep it from running out of power while it is hooked up to the TV.

Next: The Best Speakers for an iPad

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The Best iPad Speakers

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The Soundfreaq Sound Platform 2. © Soundfreaq

The built-in iPad speakers are adequate, but they aren't going to blow you away with their sound. If you are going to be watching movies, playing music or just turning on Pandora radio on a regular basis, you might want to check out some of the best speakers available for the iPad.

The Best iPad Speakers

  • Beats Pill.  Beats by Dre have quickly become synonemous with Bose when it comes to outputting great sound in a quality package.  The Pill is a moderately priced portatable speaker system,  You can even buy two and link them together for left-right stereo sound.  The Pill costs around $200. 
  • Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III.  If you are in the market for a great speaker for your home but still want a good deal on price, the Bose SoundLink III may be the way to go.  It's more costly than some of the other speakers on this list, but will it will give you a bold enough sound that you can enjoy your music in your house without sacrifice.  The SoundLink III costs around $300.
  • Bose SoundLink Color.  If you want the Bose sound in its most cheapest and portable package, look no further than the SoundLink Color.  This small speaker comes in multiple colors and is one of the better sounding portable speakers in its price range.  The Color weighs in at about $130.  
  • Soundfreaq Sound Platform 2. A great wireless speaker system that comes with a flip down device tray and a remote control app for adjusting the sound. Like the Beats Pill, the Sound Platform 2 has the ability to connect two devices together and play left and right audio on the separate speakers.   This speaker costs around $147.  
  • Logitech Speaker Stand. If you are looking for a speaker system, a stand and a way to save some money, the Logitech Speaker Stand is a great value. The stand will let you adjust the angle and switch between portrait view and landscape view, while the speaker system accepts a 3.mm input, so you can use it for other devices.  The Logitech Speaker Stand will set you back about $122.
  • Divoom Bluetune Solo. If portability is what you are after, the Divoom Bluetune Solo packs big sound into a small package. Small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, this Bluetooth speaker is a great way to bring music into any room of the house, to the patio or to a picnic.  The Solo goes for around $40. 

Did you know you didn't have to load all of your music and movies onto your iPad to enjoy them? Check out the Guide to Home Sharing to learn how to share your music from your PC to your iPad.

Next: The Best iPad Headphones

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The Best iPad Headphones

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Bose QuietComfort 25. © Bose

Easily one of the best accessories to pair with an iPad, a good set of headphones lets you listen to your music or watch movies without disturbing the person next to you. And with the ability to use Bluetooth to transfer the sound to your ears, you don't have to deal with a pesky wire getting in your way.

The Best iPad Headphones

  • Beats Studio.  By now, it goes without saying that Beats by Dr. Dre gives you some of the best sound available.  This top end model skips gives you a 20-hour rechargable battery life and a visual battery gauge, so you'll know how much music you have left.  Beats Studio goes for around $300. 
  • Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats.  Designed for a workout, these in-ear headphones are great for the treadmill or stationary bike.  The ear clip ensures they won't slip off and the remote control cord lets you pick out music without fumbling with your iPad.  Powerbeats go for around $200.
  • Bose QuietComfort 25. The only negative with the Bose QuietComfort noise cancelling headphones is that they are not wireless. But if you are serious about your music and are willing to spend the money, they provide some of the best sound available in headphones. The QuietComfort 25 headphones are over-the-ear.  If you prefer the in-ear fit, check out the QuietComfort 20.  Either set will run you around $300.  
  • AKG K451.  If you don't need a top-level headphone, but you don't want to get one from the bottom of the barrel, AKG's K451 provide great bang for the buck, allowing you to save a little money without sacrificing too much sound quality.   They also include a remote and an inline microphone and will set you back around $150.  
  • Gogroove BlueVibe AirBand. If you dislike earbuds and don't want to break the bank buying a set of headphones, the BlueVibe AirBand is a good choice.  These wireless headphones deliver good sound at a nice price.  They'll run you around $35.  
  • Panasonic RP-HJE120D Earbuds.  If you don't mind in-ear headphones without an ear clip, and you are mainly just interested in a decent replacement for the earbuds that came with your iPad, Panasonic makes a great set of earbuds.  They'll set you back around $10.

Next: Find Even More Accessories

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More Accessories...

iCade for iPad
If you are nuts for retro Arcade games, the iCade is the accessory for you. (Image © ION).

Still not find anything that catches your eye?  There are all kinds of great accessories.  Here are a few more lists you can check out:

The Best FM Transmitters.  An FM transmitter lets you hook your iPad up to your car even if your car doesn't support an auxiliary input.  This is accomplished by transmitting the iPad's sounds via FM radio.  

The Best MIDI Accessories.  Musicians will love all the ways they can hook MIDI devices up to the iPad.  These accessories can transform the iPad into a mobile studio or provide sounds via a MIDI keyboard.

iPad Accessories for Guitarists.  If you play guitar, you can use the iPad as a multi-effects stomp box.  Just remember not to actually stomp on it!  

The Best Gifts for iPad Owners.  If you are looking for some neat gifts, check out the full gift guide.  

 

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