What Accessories Should You Buy With Your iPad?

A list of "must-have" accessories

The iPad now comes in three different sizes including the 7.9-inch Mini, the 9.7-inch Air, and the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro. This can make picking out your iPad model difficult enough, but the decisions don't stop there. After you've settled on an iPad, you'll need to figure out which accessories to get with it.

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A Case

The one accessory most iPad owners will want is some type of protection for their new investment. Even if the iPad never leaves the home, one drop could lead to a cracked screen. But what type of case should you get for the iPad?

The particular case will depend on how the iPad is going to be used. The best minimum protection case is the Smart Case sold by Apple. It will protect the iPad from drops and help save battery life by putting the iPad in sleep mode when the cover is closed. This is a good case if the iPad will rarely leave home or is generally used in an office, airplane or hotel when traveling. The big exception here is young children. If a toddler is going to use the device on a regular basis, it may be better to opt with more protection.

The best maximum protection cases include the Otterbox Defender and the Griffin Survivor. These cases are best if ​you plan to use the iPad combined with camping, biking or other outdoor activities.

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A Keyboard

Even if you aren't buying an iPad Pro, which supports the new Smart Keyboard, there are plenty of different keyboards available that works great with the iPad. You can even get a keyboard case, which combines the keyboard and the case to create a very laptop look for your iPad.

But unless you have owned an iPad or you have a job that requires heavy writing and you plan on using your iPad to do it, the best advice is to wait a few weeks before investing in a keyboard. Many people are quite surprised at just how much they can get accomplished with the on-screen keyboard, and while it is not heavily advertised, the iPad does a very good job with voice dictation.

And if you are buying that great big iPad Pro, you will definitely want to wait on the keyboard. The on-screen keyboard on the iPad Pro has keys the same size as on a full-sized keyboard. It also includes a row with the number keys, so you don't need to flip back and forth between the alphabetical layout and the numerical layout.  

Many people will eventually want a physical keyboard to go along with their iPad, but there shouldn't be a rush to buy one alongside your iPad if you think you might be able to get by without it. 

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One accessory that you might miss when you buy your iPad is a good pair of headphones. The iPad has nice sound -- for a tablet. Very few tablets (or smartphones for that matter) have really good sound despite all the bragging they may do on commercials. The big exception here is the iPad Pro, which actually does have very good sound right out of the box. 

If you think you may be watching a  lot of movies or using the iPad as a portable radio, which it does great considering all of the streaming music options for it, you may want to invest in some headphones. 

The iPad is best paired with wireless headphones. It's not a phone that fits easily in your pocket. And if you plan on listening to music or watching movies while working out, going wireless is a definite must.  The wireless version of Beats Solo is top of the line when it comes to headphones, but there are plenty of other options if you don't want to spend almost as much for your headphones as you did for your tablet.

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A Dock

Apple produced several accessories for the original iPad, including both a dock and a dock with an attached keyboard. The idea of a dock with your iPad seems to have fallen out of favor with Apple, but there are plenty of options if you want a dock for your iPad. 

Do you need a dock with your iPad? If you are going to use the iPad for work much like a desktop or a laptop, a dock may be a good accessory. Many cases can also double as a stand for the iPad, but they don't always work out quite as pictured.

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A Game Controller

The iPad has always been great for games and after some game publishers came out with proprietary controllers that only worked with their games, Apple stepped in to create the "MFI" (Made for iOS) standard. The MFI game controller will work with a number of games. 

Of course, all games work fine with the touchscreen, so a game controller isn't a 'must-have' accessory. But if you or someone in the family is going to play a lot of games, especially games like first-person shooters that don't work as well with touch controls.

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Apple TV

As they make a push for control of our living rooms, Apple may not like the idea of Apple TV being an accessory for the iPad, but the two certainly complement each other in ways.

Not only can you use Apple TV to watch the same movies and listen to the same music you purchased on your iPad, but you can also throw your iPad's screen to your HDTV by using AirPlay to allow Apple TV to show what is on your iPad. That means you can play iPad games on your big screen. 

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A Stylus

The new Apple Pencil may only work with the iPad Pro, but it's not the only stylus available for the iPad. And unless you are a professional artist, you probably won't be investing in an $800+ laptop for drawing. 

If you are buying the iPad as a gift, a stylus is an excellent accessory for artists that love to paint or draw. There are a number of great apps that can take advantage of a stylus.  

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