iPad accessories gift ideas [2010 Cool Yule Tools]

Already own an iPad? Then ask for some of these items that can enhance the device.

If the iPad is the best holiday gift idea this season, then iPad accessories comes in at a close second. There’s so much new stuff out there for the iPad, we decided to give it its own category in the Cool Yule Tools guide this year. From cases to sleeves to keyboards and stands, there’s a bunch of extra stuff that every iPad owner will want in addition to their device.

Products reviewed in this category:

  • Macally ViewStand
  • iHome iA100 iPad speakers/alarm clock/speakerphone
  • M-EDGE FlexStand for iPad
  • Otterbox Defender Series for iPad
  • Tribeca iPad Sleeve
  • Case-Mate Venture
  • Speck CandyShell
  • Targus iPad stylus
  • Kensington PowerBack
  • Macally 2-in-1 Bluetooth keyboard & iPad stand

ViewStand, by MacallyMacally ViewStandIt’s hard to describe this viewing stand for the iPad than saying basically what it is – it’s a 4-way aluminum viewing stand for the iPad. The L-shaped device is made from aluminum, and features an indentation that lets you snap in an ipad (rubber grips keep the iPad in place). When the stand is placed vertically, it’s in the “viewing” mode, and you can use it mainly to view iPad videos and do other apps.

If you turn the stand around – by basically rotating 180 degrees and making the short part of the L the vertical support instead of the base – it goes into “typing” mode. The iPad is flatter, making it look more like a notebook, and allowing the user to type on the screen easier.

But wait, that’s only two “ways”! Well, in each mode you can also rotate the iPad, so in viewing mode you can have the iPad be in either portrait or landscape, and ditto with the typing mode. So yeah, there is four different ways to use it. I think more people will just use it in viewing mode – if you used it in typing mode, I would likely add another keyboard instead of typing on the display anyway. Typing mode is also good for placing on a kitchen counter and viewing recipe apps, for example (since you’d be standing and looking down on the device).

Having an iPad stand of any kind, of course, allows multiple people to view content, and my kids loved it when I put the iPad in the stand, as it meant they didn’t have to hold it as much. Built into the design were spaces for the charging cord, headphone jack, on/off switch and speakers, so you can recharge and adjust settings for the iPad while it’s still in the stand. With the iPad in the stand, it also made for a very nice digital photo frame effect. Very nice.

My only complaint is that the aluminum material isn’t fun to hold, and it could scratch your table or desk surface (there aren’t any rubber pads for it) if you’re not careful.

Cool Yule rating: 4.5 stars

Price: $60

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

iA100 (iHome Studio Series), by iHomeiHome iA100 iHome Studio SeriesWhen iPad accessories first started appearing after the device was launched, I saw a lot of cases, stands, keyboards and other combinations, but no speakers. I was intrigued, since the iPod and iPhone speaker markets are huge. Why wouldn’t someone want a speaker system to enhance the movies and songs from their iPad as well? Sure, the speakers are good, but if you’re going to watch movies on the device, let’s be sure that the sound is good, too.

I didn’t see anything good until I got the iA100 from iHome. It’s not just a speaker system for the iPad, it also works with iPods and iPhones, but it is the first set of speakers that I’ve seen that will support the iPad.

It also looks more like an alarm clock, so it’s a good thing that alarm clock functionality is built in. Users need to download the iHome + sleep application in order to use the device, which then adds functions like weather reports, alarm settings, clock settings, etc. For iPhone users, you can also purchase the iHome + Radio app to receive access to hundreds of Internet radio stations if you want to wake up to Swedish radio (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!).

iPhone and other Bluetooth phones can also use the built-in speakerphone to answer and make calls from the device.

In terms of an iPad speaker system, though, it was awesome. The iA100 includes four front and side firing speakers (including Bongiovi Acoustics) for great audio performance, and a line-in jack supports CD, MP3 players and other audio devices. The device also has a nice handle on top for moving it around to different rooms of the house if you want.

Finally some great sound for my movies and TV shows that I’m watching on my iPad. Huzzah!

Cool Yule rating: 5 stars

Price: $200

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

FlexStand for iPad, by M-EDGEM-EDGE FlexStand for iPadThis handy gadget gives you a lightweight and flexible way to prop up the iPad in a portrait or landscape position if you are looking to share the screen with others, or if you just get tired of holding it in your hands or your lap. The six arms include four with flexible rubber feet that attach to the corners of the iPad, and the other two legs can be adjusted to create the back part of the stand. While it takes some practice to get the stand to stay up correctly, the light weight of the device makes it appealing for mobile workers.Cool Yule Rating: 3 stars

Price: About $30

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Otterbox Defender Series, by OtterboxOtterbox Defender Series for iPadDo you have children who love the iPad? You could follow them around like a hawk, hoping and praying that they won't drop the iPad, or you could protect the device with something that’s more solid than a sleeve or even other case.

Enter Otterbox, which makes excellent rugged cases for devices. Its Defender Series case for the iPad offers a bunch of different protection options, including a soft rubber outer cover, and then a harder protective case that goes over that. The design still allows for the use of all the buttons on the iPad, such as volume, power, etc. Parts of the case can also be separated and then used as a stand for the device, and the system comes with a third protection layer, a thin plastic screen protector that can be affixed to the iPad screen. The package also includes a cloth wipe that can remove fingerprints. A good investment all around.

Cool Yule rating: 5 stars 

Price: $90

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Targus Stylus for Apple iPad, by TargusTargus Stylus for Apple iPadThe iPad's large screen is geared for your finger, of course, but eventually you get sick of cleaning off fingerprints (especially if your kids enjoy the iPad as well). This stylus has a soft rubber tip that doesn't leave fingerprints, and should remind mobile users of the stylus from the early days of the Palm Pilot. If you don't have an iPad, the stylus can work with any "capacitive touch surface", which covers pretty much any touch-screen device out there.

The biggest problem is figuring out where to store it when not in use - it's easy to lose this like a pen. In fact, since testing this, we can’t remember where we last put it.

Cool Yule Rating: 4 starsReviewed by Keith Shaw

Price: About $15

Company Web siteCandyShell, by SpeckCandyShell for iPad by SpeckHard on the outside, soft in the middle can be used to describe an M&M, but it also can describe the CandyShell iPad case by Speck. The white shell offers drop protection for the iPad (as long as the iPad drops glass up), and a soft rubber interior protects it from scratches and keeps it safe too. When the iPad is inserted correctly, the CandyShell offers holes for the iPad button controls and speaker areas, so you can still do everything with the iPad when it’s in the shell.

A flap on the bottom can flip back and be connected to a sold-separately dock if you want to use a keyboard, but that's only useful if you have one – flipping it open doesn’t give you enough support to create a makeshift stand.

The best part – the CandyShell comes in a variety of colors – we tried the GoGo White, but more colorful purple, blue and pink shells are available too.

Cool Yule rating: 3.5 stars 

Price: $49.95

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Venture iPad case, by case-mateCase-mate Venture Ipad case and standIf you’re not planning on throwing or dropping your iPad too much, you probably don’t need a really hard protection case. On the other hand, you might want something that still offers some form of protection, and something that’s more professional-looking than a Hello Kitty iPad sleeve. The Venture is a side opening iPad case in a business-like black leather/cardboard combination to offer up limited protection for the iPad case. Enough spaces surround the cover to allow for button access while the iPad is inside the case, and the cover can snap shut with a button snap.The case also doubles as a stand for the iPad – it folds back under itself to create an angled viewing stand.

The Venture is also pretty light, not adding too much bulk to your iPad, and there’s a pocket inside that can also store business cards.

One downside – at $90 this seems a lot more expensive for the features and functionality you get – the case seems more like faux leather rather than real leather – if you’re going to spend that much on something, make sure the leather or case is more solid than this. If you can get this case for $40 to $50, then it would be worth it.

Cool Yule rating: 3.5 stars 

Price: $90

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

2-in-1 Bluetooth Keyboard and Stand, by MacallyMacally 2-in-1 Bluetooth Keyboard and StandI have mixed feelings about this. I love combination gadgets, so the combination of a Bluetooth keyboard and iPad stand is a nice touch. The keyboard's dust cover, in fact, becomes the stand for the iPad, and it's very sturdy - it can also be used with an iPhone. Powered by two (included!) AAA batteries, the keyboard's Bluetooth connection is very responsive, as well, I didn't notice any lag when typing on it.

The problem, however, is the size of the keys. The small keys make it very difficult to touch type, and regularly used keys, like the delete and shift keys, are even smaller than the letter keys. At this price, a larger keyboard would definitely make this a winner. Otherwise, you have to be content with hunting and pecking when you type with this.

Cool Yule rating: 2 stars  

Price: About $100

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

PowerBack Battery Case with Kickstand and Dock, by KensingtonKensington PowerBack Battery CaseThis case combines an iPad hard case to provide protection from drops, with a battery that helps recharge the iPad with up to five extra hours of power. The device also includes a handy kickstand (three different positions) to prop up the iPad in either typing, portrait or landscape modes.

There’s a Micro USB cable and port that lets you charge and synchronize your iPad without having to remove the case from the device. That may be nice, but there’s no power adapter either, which means you have to recharge the PowerBack and the iPad via your computer instead of a power outlet. That wasn’t very handy.

Cool Yule rating: 3 stars

Price: $130

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

Tribeca Gear iPad Sleeve (NFL logos), by GameTimeGeeksTribeca Gear iPad Sleeve by GameTimeGeeksThere are other iPad sleeves that might offer more protection, but if you’re in the market for a neoprene iPad sleeve, and you have an NFL fan on your list, you can’t go wrong with this iPad sleeve that covers all of the teams of the NFL. The sleeve includes a soft faux-fur internal lining, and the neoprene sleeve closes in on itself for easy insertion and removal (no zipper).

All the teams are covered at the GameTimeGeeks Web site, so you can even get some sleeves for Cleveland Browns fans.

Cool Yule rating: 4 stars (more if your iPad fan is also an NFL fan)

Price: $40

Company Web site

Reviewed by Keith Shaw

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