So many times I see executives carrying their iPads to meetings and on the road without an accessory to be found. The iPad is an amazingly useful tool alone, but it can change your life with the right gear.
In this article I’ll summarize what I’ve found to be the key accessories that have made me more productive with my iPad, either in the office, on the couch or on the road.
My list is not all inclusive as there are many, many accessories that can make your tablet experience more productive and I would look forward to hearing about your own ideas in the comments.
Keyboard / Case
The first accessory that I cannot live without is my integrated Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio. I do a lot of typing on my iPad as I have found this the fastest way for me to capture information while in meetings.
As I wrote here on a prior post on TabTimes, simply going through the process of learning to type on the iPad is an important step in eliminating paper. However, if you want to do real typing on an iPad a real keyboard is essential.
Other than loving the feel of the chicklet keys with their perfect feedback and size, I appreciate the protection that this case provides without adding bulk.
Coupling the Logitech with the new svelte iPad Air makes for a very small and portable package. This is not meant as a review of the Logitech as there are many excellent keyboard/case options out there, but these integrated setups are great ways to gain the productivity of a keyboard while getting some much needed protection for your tablet.
There are also other accessories of this type that look interesting, such as the nimblstand, reviewed earlier in TabTimes.
I would argue that the next iPad accessory that is overlooked is a tool to project the iPad screen to a TV or projector. There is nothing more cool than giving a presentation from an iPad. Laptops have always been a pain to connect to projectors and after doing it for over 15 years I can honestly say that it is still a pain.
Projecting from an iPad is just more elegant, simple and impressive for those in the room. Maybe I am biased, but I have found that projecting from my old iPad via a simple VGA adapter always just worked.
There are also some wonderful presentation apps out there that make the process of actually presenting more fun with features like finger-based laser pointing to tele-prompting to remote slide control using an iPhone.
Apps like Prezi, Haiku and Keynote all have some or all of these capabilities and work using a simple adapter between your iPad and the projector.
An even cooler and more elegant option is to carry around an AppleTV with your iPad. I do not do this myself, but I have read many posts from those that do. Just connect the AppleTV to the projector or a TV and then you connect your iPad to the AppleTV over the wireless network.
This means that you are now projecting wirelessly and are free to walk around the room unencumbered. If you are curious how easy this is go over to an Apple Store and try to connect your iPhone to one of the display AppleTV's.
The reason to have a stylus may surprise you
For something a little more low-tech, the stylus is a classic accessory that every iPad owner should keep close at hand. Why you ask?
Sure you can draw with it, but what I’ve found most valuable is the simple process of being able to sign documents electronically.
Once you have mastered apps like PDFProvider and GoodReader you can electronically process any document requiring your signature without having to print and scan anything.
The other reason to get a stylus is that they are so cheap and easy to find these days. Lots of companies are buying integrated stylus-pens as marketing give-aways so its pretty easy to find a simple stylus for free.
These cheaper options are certainly fine for those who only utilize a stylus infrequently. For those of you more comfortable writing on your iPad, one of the more expensive options may be more appealing.
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Scanning - a virtual accessory
The final accessory I find essential is a good scanning app. Paper will always be around and therefor there will always be a reason to deal with paper in all its organizational messiness.
For this I rely on the convenience of Readdle's Scanner Pro. When a piece of paper appears on my desk it is quickly scanned with Scanner Pro and forwarded on to OneNote and Evernote for filing.
Scanner Pro is not the only app for scanning; I have also used PDFpen Scan+ as well as Evernote's own scanning function both of which produce similar results as Scanner Pro. Whichever scanning app you choose, the process of scanning paper as soon as it appears on your desk will go a long way towards eliminating clutter in your life.
Those are my top 4! Each of the above accessories are critical to my day to day workflow with my iPad and each has saved me many hours and headaches.
Do you have an accessory or two that I have not mentioned that you find essential to your own workflow? What am I missing? Feel free to add your suggestions in the Comments section below
(TabTimes contributor Chris Lee is a healthcare administrator and also writes the blog Tablet Productive)