Category Archives: iPad Accessories

Review: iFrogz Impulse Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Impulse

In my opinion, one of the best features of any mobile accessory is versatility. I spend a lot of time on the go during the day, and do a fair amount of travelling for work, so earning a place in my gear bag is a badge of honor, and it usually requires a certain measure of versatility. The more bases a device or accessory can cover, the better the chance that it holds a spot there.

In the past, versatility was a given with headphones and earbuds. You plugged them into a jack and they just worked. With Bluetooth headphones, there came more freedom of movement, but with the conditions of only being compatible with certain devices and limited battery life. Now, iOS users are faced with even more complications with the removal of the iPhone’s headphone jack going forward, with several other smartphone manufacturers now making the same move right behind them. If you own both an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus and an iPad, complications with earbuds or headphones will ensue.

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Review: 360 Gripstand by Lynktec


Like so many smartphone and tablet accessory categories, stands have become exceedingly commoditized. If you don’t know what I mean, I dare you to search for “iPad Stand” on eBay or Amazon and see how long you can stand browsing the never ending list. Half of what you will find there probably comes out of no more than 5 factories in East Asia.

For all the difficulty in finding a good device stand that is versatile and stands out from the crowd, it’s an accessory we all find ourselves in need of at one time or another. I’ve had several over the years, but they all had flaws. They didn’t last. They would only work for certain devices, or in certain use conditions. Frankly, I had never owned one that I was really all that happy with. That changed when I got Lynktec’s 360 Gripstand.

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Reflecting On The Past Year of Apple Pencil Ownership

When I first bought the Apple Pencil in late 2015, I thought I’d bring it everywhere. It was one of the coolest iPad accessories I’d ever seen, and the low latency and high accuracy for drawing and handwriting was just unbelievable. I’d used a lot of third party stylii — including the Pencil by Fifty Three — before the Apple Pencil’s release, but none of the competitors even came close to Apple’s product.

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ibeani

Most Versatile Tablet & iPad Stand – iBeani

PRODUCT REVIEW

ibeaniecatsiBeani Tablet and iPad Stands are very good products with very practical functionality. We’re a big fan of iBeani iPad stands. iBeani Tablet and iPad Stands are hand made in UK and sold online. My initial thought when I first saw it, “It doesn’t look all that impressive, it looks kind of simple”. However, I’ve discovered its simplicity is, among others, it’s strength.

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Quick Look: Mountie Monitor Extender

MBP-iPad-Mountie

Tell me if this sounds familiar to you–you’re working on your laptop and you wish you had just a little more real-estate on your screen.  Having another window open can go a long way unmaking you more productive.  Maybe it’s your email–maybe you are a heavy Twitter user, and you like to keep the app open and active, or perhaps you want the extra screen for a  FaceTime or Skype call.  Whatever the reason, there aren’t too many functional and affordable options out there to choose from.

While searching for options, I came accross the Mountie from the folks at Ten 1 design.  Not only was it pretty much exactly what I was looking for, but the minimalistic design and affordable price tag were icing on the cake.  Available in both green and blue, the Mountie offers a convenient and easy way to add an additional monitor to your MacBook or PC without adding unwanted bulk to your set-up.

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Can No One Topple the Smart Keyboard?


It’s struck me recently that I haven’t really heard of any other iPad Pro keyboards that might the dominance of the Smart Keyboard. I’m still pretty happy with my Smart Keyboard, but it would also be nice to have a viable third party alternative by this point in time.

Logitech’s Create Pro is still around and offers a more stable platform for lap typing, but at 2.5 lbs. for the keyboard alone, it’s just too darn heavy to be an everyday carry option for me. The same goes for the newly announced Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case, which promises tactile and clicky keys and a hinge to prop the iPad up at different angles. Typing with a mechanical keyboard would be loud, but it also sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the Razer is also out of the question for my daily carry becuase it brings the total weight to 4 lbs.

The only other iPad Pro keyboard I know of is the ZAGG Slim Book, which mimics a MacBook’s clamshell design. Unfortunately it still doubles the weight of the device to a total of 3 lbs.

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Yes, You Do Need Apple’s USB-C to Lightning Cable to Fast Charge an iPad Pro


It was my birthday recently and I asked for one of the most exciting presents that an iPad geek could request: a $49 29-Watt charger. Riveting, I know! When I work with the iPad Pro at my desk for extended sessions, the 12W charger can barely keep up with the iPad as I use it, which means that when I’m low on battery, I just stay low on battery. Laptop and smartphone chargers usually outpace me and provide energy faster than I can use it up, but that hasn’t been the case with the iPad Pro.

This $49 charger was actually designed for the 12-inch MacBook, but Apple also released a USB-C to Lightning cable earlier this year, which allows the 29W charger to work its magic on the larger iPad Pro. Based on Federico Viticci’s intensive fast-charge testing of the iPad Pro, this combo of 29W charger and USB-C to Lightning cable are supposed to cut charging times in half.

However, in an attempt to save a bit of money, I first tried using Apple’s USB-C to USB adapter, which is meant for making the USB-C port on the MacBook available to standard USB accessories. I was hoping that this charger would be smart enough to let an attached Lightning cable send more electricity to my iPad Pro, while still allowing me the flexibility of using my existing set of Lightning cables.

I took two days to test the USB-C to USB adapter and found that it made no difference to charging speed, despite being used with the 29W charger. The staff at the Apple Store weren’t sure about this, but now I am. There might be an inhibitor in the adapter itself that keeps too much electricity from flowing through, or there might be something special about the actual USB-C to Lightning cable that Apple released earlier this year. Either way, in order to take full advantage of fast charging, you really will need to buy the 29W charger and Apple’s 1 m USB-C to Lightning cable, or the more expensive 2 metre version.

I opted for the 2 m version just because I’ll want this able for scenarios where I’m using the iPad Pro just like I would a laptop. I’m sitting and working for a long period of time, and I want the battery to be at 100% when I’m done.

In my tests thus far, it’s taken me about 2 hours to go from 14% to 93%; and that’s while writing on this iPad, uploading 400 pics to Lightroom in Split View, and watching a video in PiP mode for about 20 minutes. I would barely have charged at all if this were the standard 12W charger, and that’s pretty sad.

So on the one hand, I’m pretty happy to have finally bitten the bullet and gotten this 29W + cable combo for fast charging. However, I’ll also admit that Apple has once again suckered me into paying *far* too much for such a basic accessory. Luckily, I’ve been having a really good time working, reading, and surfing on the iPad Pro over the past few months, and so this does feel like a worthwhile investment for my own enjoyment.

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Using a Coiled Horizontal Pen Clip for Storing the Apple Pencil

  
I was examining different ways to hold my Apple Pencil on the Smart Keyboard of my iPad Pro. It’s a difficult thing to pull off because the keyboard folds up in a lot of different ways, and finding the right spot to mount the Pencil has been challenging.

I was originally thinking of purchasing one of Moxiware’s magnet stickers for the Pencil, but was a little concerned with some of the videos and reviews I saw on Reddit. The Pencil Magnet is strong enough for temporary storage on the iPad itself, but it’s not strong enough to help with storage during transit (the Pencil will still just fall off). I may still get one down the line, but my first priority was to find something to keep the Pencil tethered to the iPad Pro while it’s in my bag.

During my recent trip to Japan I stumbled upon a metal pen clip in one of the many (many!) stationery stores. I was very careful to choose the orientation of the clip. Many are vertical-style clips like this one from Muji, but I ended up choosing one that mounts vertically on the Smart Keyboard (kind of like this one from Rakuten), but holds the Pencil horizontally along the top of the tablet. I inserted the clip on the middle panel of the Smart Keyboard, since that’s the one that rests away from the iPad, and also prevents the metal clip from ever touching my iPad’s screen (because the keyboard is folded under it during storage).

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Trying Apple’s New USB 3 Camera Adapter for XAVC-S Video

   
One of the things I was keen to try upon my return to Canada was Apple’s newly announced USB 3.0 Camera Adapter, which has support for Lightning charging. Jason Snell has already discussed the merits of this adapter for podcasting, but I was really curious to see if it could help me finally import XAVC-S videos from my Sony A6000

The main reason I can’t transfer videos from my camera to the iPad is because that iOS complains that the camera is taking up too much energy during the transfer, and it shuts the whole process down. With this new cable, I should be able to transfer videos over by using a Frankenstein combo of wires:

  • a Camera Adapter connected to the iPad Pro
  • a micro USB adapter connecting my camera to the Camera Adapter (to transfer the video)
  • a Lightning cable connecting a mobile battery or power adapter to the Camera Adapter (to provide power to the iPad)

It’s definitely a tangle of wires and far from simple, but it would be worth it in order to make the iPad Pro a bigger part of my multimedia workflow. So one of the first things I did after my return was to head to the Apple Store and pay $49 CAD + tax for the USB 3 Camera Adapter.

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Keeping The Apple Pencil Handy

 

Apple Pencil handyI haven’t been using the Pencil as much recently. Part of that has to do with some of the newness dying down, but I still really believe in the Pencil’s utility. I love using it every time I pick it up. I attribute some of this decrease in usage to keeping the Pencil in my bag too often, and simply forgetting I have it with me. My Smart Keyboard is always attached to the iPad Pro, so it’s easier to whip the keyboard out and use it whenever I want to sit and type. If I could get the Pencil to that level of ready availability, I think I’d end up using it more often.

I’ve done a bit of research into different Pencil carrying options, and here are a few of my favourites:

Pencil Clips

One cheap solution is to add a pen clip to the Pencil so that I could attach it to the dedicated pen loops in my bags. This would help keep the Pencil more visible at all times. It’s an intriguing simple solution, but I’m a little worried about how that might scratch the Pencil up over time.

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Deciding on a Keyboard for your iPad Pro?

iPad Pro Keyboards

It’s the early days of the iPad Pro, so there are currently only two choices for a Smart Connector accessory: Apple’s own Smart Keyboard and Logitech’s Create Pro. Since there are likely to be a lot of keyboards purchased (and subsequently returned) this season, I thought I’d add my two cents as someone who tends to work quite a lot on the iPad.

A lot of reviewers have put the two keyboards up against one another and listed off specs like key travel, backlighting, and iPad-specific shortcut keys. These are all valid points to examine as part of the purchasing decision, but I think there’s really only one thing that needs to be considered in this regard: weight.

Carrying Weight

Other reviewers have mentioned this before, but I think this factor is so important that it should be the driving force behind which keyboard you should pick.

The Logitech Create Pro weighs 1.5 lbs., which is just a little more than the iPad Pro itself at 1.6 lbs. Together, the pairing weigh 3.1 lbs., which is just a little more than a 13-inch MacBook Air. The Smart Keyboard, on the other hand, weighs just 0.72 lbs., or under half the weight of the iPad Pro.

That may not seem like much, but it does make a difference to the feel of your everyday carry. I acknowledge that the iPad Pro is a different class of tablet that’s better used on or against a solid surface, instead of carried in the hand. However, you will feel the difference between a 2.3 lbs. iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard combo and a 3.1 lbs. iPad Pro + Create Pro combo. I think that choosing to carry and iPad Pro around should be a more liberating solution weight-wise, and the Create Pro is akin to carrying a MacBook Air around. That’s exactly the kind of weight class I’m trying to leave behind.

Lock-in

I also love the Smart Keyboard because it embraces the tablet’s flexibility by making it very easy to detach at a moment’s notice, whereas the Create Pro forces the form factor of a laptop onto the iPad. I think that the strength of the tablet form factor lies in the different ways you can use and hold it: You can lie it flat on a desk, prop it up on a knee, or hold it in two hands while you walk around.

The Create Pro’s design limits that flexibility because of the way you lock the entire iPad into place. It’s not impossible to remove — but it’s a more involved process because you have to click the corners out of the case before you can remove the iPad, and I’d rather not have that friction.

The Create Pro looks gorgeous in product shots and Logitech does create some fantastic keyboards, but given the two choices right now, I would highly recommend Apple’s own Smart Keyboard. The iPad Pro’s lightness is one of the reasons it’s such a compelling machine to me, and doubling its weight by adding a keyboard just doesn’t strike me as a good option.

[The Smart Keyboard is unfortunately still very hard to get through the Apple Store, but you might want to check your local Best Buy if you’re in the US or Canada.]

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