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Cool Yule Tools 2011

Tablet Accessories Tech Treasures [2011 Cool Yule Tools]

Sure, the tablet is fun. Now you need to accessorize!

By Network World Staff, Network World
November 21, 2011 12:09 AM ET

Network World - While last year may have been the year of the tablet (with the introduction/invasion of the iPad), this year certainly qualifies as the year of the tablet accessory. Whether it’s a case, a pillow, stand or speaker system, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite devices to go along with our favorite tablets:

Watch a slideshow version of some of these products.

Products reviewed in this category
Kraken II series iPad 2 case, by Trident Case
Hammerhead iPad 2 hard shell case
Spiderpodium tablet, by Breffo
iGuy, by Speck Products
Targus Lap Lounge for iPad 2, by Targus
Versavu Keyboard and Case for iPad 2, by Targus
Joystick-IT tablet arcade stick, by ThinkGeek
SlateShield All-in-1 for iPad, by Addo Accessories
Magnetic Cabinet Mount and Viewing Stand, by Macally
Toddy iPad cleaner cloth, by Toddy Gear
Crayola ColorStudio HD and iMarker stylus, by Griffin Technology

The reviews

Kraken II series iPad 2 case, by Trident Case
If you are concerned about protecting your iPad 2 more than a generic case, the Kraken II series offers two levels of protection. First, there’s a silicone layer that hugs the iPad tightly, offering protection from drops and covering up vital ports with dust and debris protection (unfortunately, it’s not waterproofed). The second layer consists of two different polycarbonate hard shells (front and back) that snap over the first layer and iPad to provide more protection. The front part of the hard shell offers a screen protector as well, allowing users to still use the touchscreen on the iPad but keeping smudges and scratches away from the glass. Two clamps on the top also snap the pieces into place, and the silicone layer fits nicely with the polycarbonate hard shell. Taking everything apart is a bit difficult, but that also means it’s not flimsy.

All of this does add some bulk to the device, so I’d only recommend using this if you absolutely need the drop, dust and debris protection offered by the Kraken II. The series also comes in a range of colors to choose from as well, giving you some style to the iPad 2.

Cool Yule rating: 4 stars
Price: $49.95
Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Hammerhead iPad 2 hard shell case
If you get a new iPad 2, you can separately purchase one of Apple’s new Smart Covers, which let you turn on and off the iPad when you open the case. The problem with those, however, is that the case only protects the front and side of the iPad 2, the back is still exposed. 

The Hammerhead case adds a back shell to the case as well, protecting it from impacts and scratches. The lightweight polymer shell doesn’t add too much bulk to the iPad, and offers the same automatic wake/sleep for the device when opened and closed. 

The lid also can fold to provide different angles for the iPad, including typing and viewing in portrait or landscape modes. At $40 it’s a bit pricey, but Hammerhead also makes other less expensive cases or sleeves. Like many iPad cases these days, you have a choice of several colors.

Cool Yule rating: 4 stars
Price: $39.99
Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Spiderpodium tablet, by Breffo
This flexible tablet stand is designed to fit tablets like the iPad or Android tablets – it has eight flexible legs that can be bent into numerous positions to create the position or angle you desire. The “toes” of the device wrap around tightly to the edges of the tablet, and the legs are strong enough to support the weight of the device. Don’t throw out the back of the box, because it shows you a number of different options on ways to bend the spiderpodium in order to get the desired angle/position. It also showed how you can use this to mount an iPad on the back of a car seat, making it a handy frame for letting the kids watch stuff on your tablet during long car trips. It can also be used at the front of the device, if you want to use your iPad for GPS functionality, just mount it to the dashboard. Figuring out which legs to use can take a bit of practice, but after you get used to it you’ll be amazed at how many different uses you can get out of it.

Cool Yule rating: 4 stars
Price: $35
Reviewed by Keith Shaw

iGuy, by Speck Products
If your children get as much entertainment (or more) from your iPad or iPad 2 as you do, why not dress it up with a fun and colorful case like the iGuy from Speck Products? This foam case can stand on its own two legs, and has two “arms” as well that kids can hold onto for extra support when they’re using the iPad or iPad 2. The foam provides a layer of protection in case the kids drop the tablet on the ground, and it comes in three color options – green (makes it look like Gumby), blue or orange. A couple of concerns – first, for apps that require a vertical orientation, the iGuy doesn’t stand up on his own, it becomes a bit awkward compared to horizontal apps. Second, connecting a charging cable while the iPad is in the iGuy can be a bit tricky, might take some jiggling/jostling of the cable.

Cool Yule rating: 4 stars
Price: $39.95
Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Targus Lap Lounge for iPad 2, by Targus
If you find yourself doing a lot of things with your iPad, including reading books, watching movies (either purchased or via Netflix / Hulu Plus), after a while you’ll start to get tired of holding the device. A device like the iPad (and iPad 2) is meant to be enjoyed on your lap, but sometimes your lap isn’t the right angle for doing such things. That’s where the Targus Lap Lounge comes in handy – it provides a sturdy case to hold the iPad 2 in place (we tested the iPad 2 version, Targus also makes a Lap Lounge for Tablets to cover the iPad and Galaxy Tab, etc.), and then a soft bean bag-filled cushion for resting on your lap. The stand can be set in multiple viewing angles, and a zippered pocket can be used to store accessories. The design of the stand also provides some sound amplification for the iPad, by redirecting sound towards the user, but in practice we didn’t really notice much of a difference, and in reality I preferred using my headphones anyway.

I wouldn’t travel with this accessory, but would use it when I was sitting on my couch or in bed either reading or watching movies. If there’s a power iPad user on your holiday list, free up their hands or lap by giving them a comfortable place to rest their device.

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