to increase the utility of your iPad
Alan Zisman (c) 2010 First published in Business
June 29 - July 5, 2010 issue #1079;
reposted on Low End
High Tech Office column
A couple of weeks ago, I gave first impressions of my new Apple iPad.
In brief, while it’s not a full-fledged replacement for a laptop for
most business users, it’s surprisingly functional and fun to use.
Buying an iPad, though, is just the first step. The next step is to
trick it out with physical accessories and apps.
On release day, Apple had a set of accessories available. Among them
was the $45 iPad case, which gives your new iPad a protective cover. It
also lets you stand it up for either landscape or portrait-mode
viewing. Add the free Night Clock app and use it as a travel clock or
as a digital picture frame to display slideshows of your photos.
Like Ford’s Model T, it comes only in black. For more colours, consider
alternatives from Kingston, Belkin, Griffin and others.
A $35 dock also lets you stand your iPad, though only in portrait
orientation, but makes it easy to charge at the same time. An audio-out
jack can be connected to a sound system; I’m leaving one plugged into
my home stereo. (You can also use it with an iPhone or iPod.)
In my first-look iPad column (issue 1076; June 8-14), I mistakenly said
that you couldn’t show presentations from the iPad plugged into an
external monitor or projector. (Thanks to reader Stuart Bell for the
correction.) Apple’s $35 iPad Dock Connector to VGA adaptor lets you do
just that, as well as project photos, YouTube clips and other videos.
It doesn’t mirror what’s on the iPad screen, however, so you can’t use
it to demo use of the iPad itself or use it with most apps.
When in use, the iPad screen freezes. Video or presentation action
shows only through the projector. Useful, but a bit less than I would
have hoped. (Most video-out adaptors for the iPhone also seem to be
usable with the iPad – but with the same sorts of limitations.)
On the other hand, Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit (also $35) does
more than the name suggests. It consists of two small adaptors, each of
which plugs into the dock connector. One lets you pop in the SD memory
storage card used in most (but not all) digital cameras. When you do
that, you can view the photos and videos on the card and copy them into
the iPad’s photo library and later sync them with your main PC or Mac.
The second adaptor has a USB port on it that lets you connect your
camera with a USB cable – handy for cameras that don’t use SD memory
cards. In some respects, this provides the iPad with its missing USB
port, which can be used in several ways not officially supported by
Apple. You can, for instance, use it to connect many USB microphones
for use with an iPad recording app. Plug in an iPod or iPhone and
import photos and videos. It doesn’t work, however, with external hard
drives or USB memory sticks, so you can’t transfer documents on or off
the iPad that way.
Some iPod or iPhone accessories may be usable with the iPad as well.
iPhone headsets can be used with the iPad, and their built-in mics can
be used to make phone calls on the iPad using Skype, TruPhone or other
apps. (Even without a headset, you can make these sorts of calls on the
iPad if you don’t mind speaking to a large tablet.)
iPod/iPhone chargers, however, don’t provide enough power to do a good
job charging the larger iPad, and Apple’s older iPod camera connection
device won’t work with the iPad.
I was able to plug my iPad into a Belkin car FM transmitter and beam
music to the radio. Plugged into the lighter socket, the device
provides enough power to run the iPad, but not enough to recharge its
battery at the same time.