Since the iPad is a portable device one tends to take everywhere, a lot of vendors at the recent Macworld/iWorld convention in San Francisco focused on carrying cases, screen protectors, screen cleaners, and decorative elements like colorful skins. However, other peripherals like wireless keyboards got their fair share of attention, as well.
For example, the Sanho HyperShop was busy selling a dozen external batteries in varying capacities, plus back covers, USB flash drives, and thin HDMI cables. Adonit offered a light and attractive leather portfolio that holds its wireless keyboard and the iPad. Snaptotes was promoting its “photo handbags”; sleeves, skins, software cases, and even totes where they’ll put your favorite photos or graphics as decoration.
Many vendors showed mounts to attach your iPad to a window, headrest, or elsewhere. It’s a little harder with the bulkier and heavier iPad than the iPhone, but the makers are gamely trying.
The FlyGrip is a small plastic fold-out tab targeting the iPhone market (it comes with an iPhone case), but it might make even more sense for the iPad, since it helps steady one’s grip on the slippery tablet. Or you can take a look at The Grablet, which gives you a glove-like handle on your iPad. Or Otter, famous for its tough Otterbox iPhone cases, will show you their Defender series of iPad case with plastic screen protector, and add the Utility Series Latch which has a hand grip and a lanyard for hanging it around your neck.
Of course, there are vendors helping you protect and clean your screen — all that video real estate, not to mention the touch interface, attracts dust and fingerprints. Zagg will sell you its “virtually indestructible” Invisible Shield HD. Liquid-Armor counters with a bottle of a liquid that you apply to the screen, giving it “a remarkable nano-coating technology” that is twice as scratch resistant (they say) as the plastic films, and even repels dust. Then there is Lenspen, which sells a screen cleaner pad, the Sidekick: no liquids, no tissues, no cloths.
For institutional device customers, Parat Solutions and Anthro both offer systems that charge and synchronize multiple iPad or iPhone devices at once. These would be convenient for schools and universities, as well as museums and resorts. The Parat dock looks like a smallish slotted tray, holds 20 devices at a time, requires no manual handling of cables, and is managed from one connected Macintosh. The Anthro system operates similarly, but on a large wheeled cart.
Each of these charging stations costs a thousand dollars or more (for exact prices you have to ask for a quote). For simple charging of just a handful of devices, Kanex announced a charger it calls Sydnee, which charges up to four iPhones, iPads, or iPods at once, but only costs $150.
One impressive but tiny product, Soundjaw — developed by its inventor, Matt McLachlan, with funding from the crowdsourcing Kickstarter — is a plastic scoop that snaps onto the lower-right corner of your iPad — and cups the back-corner speaker, directing the sound around toward you, so you can hear it better. It works exactly as advertised — the iPad with Soundjaw was much easier to hear. It also compensates for the tendency to cover the speaker with your hand when you hold the iPad by that corner. The thing costs $13 — which is both the cheapest sound fix and the biggest markup for a product, both at the same time!
Apps for the iPad
The iPad is making big headway in the Apple Apps Store, with developers taking advantage of all that extra screen real estate compared to smart phones.
QuickOffice Pro HD is an office suite that gives you access to Microsoft Office files. Topaz offers a whole series of dazzling photo-editing utilities, which work much better and more easily on a touch screen than on a mouse-driven desktop. And for that purpose, you might want a Jot Mini stylus from Adonis for precise control.
Or perhaps you’re into music. There were a number of advanced music apps, such as Notion, a music notation program from NotionMusic.com, that will display a keyboard and music sheet. Among other things, you can also play your composition and see the score displayed on the sheet.
Meanwhile, at one of the tiny Mobile Center area booths, the amusing and eccentric inventor Ikko Fushiki of DigitarWorld.com was showing his Digitar — software for the iPad that displays the neck of a guitar, which you can play as if it were a guitar. He also demonstrated a harmonica app for the iPhone: when you put one side of the iPhone to your mouth and act like you’re playing a harmonica, the touch-sensitive screen detects your mouth movements and produces harmonica music as if you really were playing.
CoPilot Live puts a GPS navigation system on your iPad for $30 — and it has all the features of a $100+ car GPS system — except that the iPad’s screen is gigantic compared to that of a typical car GPS, of course. This lets CoPilot display a split-screen view of both the road you’re traveling, and the turn-by-turn text directions.
The showstopping Video Camera product from i4Software lets you perform nonlinear video editing on an iPad 2; and with its Wi-Fi feature, the iPad can also pull in video streams from up to eight nearby Video Camera-enabled iPads or iPhones, then edit them all together. The software, which has some of the capabilities of high-end video editing software, sells for $7.99 in the App Store.
Finally, Ambient Design Ltd showed off its art program, ArtRage, which lets you “paint” on the iPad almost exactly as if you were painting with oils, watercolor, or pastel, as four artists were demonstrating with impressive results. The iPad screen is so finely touch sensitive that you can use actual artist paintbrushes, rather than specialty equipment. Though Nomad was at the show, too, and would gladly sell you one of their iPad-specific brushes.
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