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April 6,2010- iPad accessories you already have...

Whenever a new Apple gadget shows up on the market, what follows is an inevitable deluge of gadget-specific accessories. The iPad will be no different. It will spawn an entire ecosystem of iPad-specifc screen protectors, carrying cases, docks, extended battery packs, and attachments. However, well-gadgetized geeks may already have many of those accessories in-house. Yesterday we showed how a mouse pad could double nicely as an iPad stand. Today, we took a quick look around the RainyDayMagazine office and came up with half a dozen things which could be repurposed for the iPad. Some gear was relatively new, and some were surprisingly old and no longer actively used.

The mouse pad with a wrist rest worked as a stand because the friction of the pad kept the iPad from sliding. However, as the back of the iPad is curved, pretty much any soft wrist rest would work just as well as long as it has a little "grab" to its surface. We can see ones made of silicone being especially good for this purpose.

We reviewed the BookArc from TwelveSouth last September. The BookArc is a well-crafted stand designed specifically for the MacBook. We found that it also works quite well for the iPad. Yes, the Home button is not accessible from the top if used in the vertical, but we found the horizontal orientation to be more functional anyway. The "grippy" insert held the iPad securely without marring the glass or the back. The larger gap allowed for a slight range in different view angles. It is also a nice place to park the iPad while charging. If you are looking for a stylish stand, the BookArc is pretty hard to beat.

Back in 2006, we got the AnyCom Stowaway keyboard to use with our Blackberry. We did not use it much because typing anything more than a few words on the Blackberry is just silly. The keyboard was forgotten and sat in the back of the equipment drawer. When we ordered the iPad, we thought about getting the Apple Bluetooth keyboard as well. One of the interns remembered that we had the Stowaway and suggested we hold off on the Apple one.

The cool thing about the Stowaway was, of course, it folds up to the size of a small paperback. Since it is Bluetooth enabled, there is no cable. The Stowaway also has a removable stand. It works when the iPad is in landscape position, but it was not sturdy enough to hold the iPad in the portrait orientation.

Since we had not used the Stowaway for a few years, we had forgotten how to turn the thing on. Once we managed to dig up the directions on how to activate (Cntr-LFn-RFn) Bluetooth communications, we were able to get the iPad and the keyboard to talk to each other. It was a pleasant surprise to have the Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard working with the iPad. Looking back, we realize that we should not have been so surprised as Bluetooth IS a standard :-)

With any portable device, one of the quandries is how best to carry it around. Should it be in its own protected enclosure? How do you keep it from getting scratched? What if we want to take along the cables and accessories?

The great thing about the iPad is that it can fit just about anywhere a pad of paper will fit. So any folio, 3-ring binder, or small notebook carriers (BUILT, Tom Bihn) will work just fine. If there is a need to bring along accessories, a slightly larger folio (we got this free at a tradeshow) or any of our current laptop cases will have plenty of room. There is really no need spend money on iPad-specific cases. Some case vendors may disagree, but they may have a different motivation. Of course, we love a good case as much as the next gadget freak. So we are always happy to be proven wrong! If you think there is a "must-have" iPad case out there, let us know. We'll be happy to check it out.

We were glad we took a look around. We realized that until our own iPhone/iPad apps start cranking out the cash, it wouldn't kill us to be a little frugal with our cash flow. So before you plunk down your credit card for those new iPad-specific accessories, take a look at some of the gear you have in storage. Like us, you too may find a second life for that folio from a few years ago or the forgotten Bluetooth keyboard from the Blackberry days. [Permalink] -iPad Accessories Your Already Have


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