Category Archives: iPad Accessories

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.


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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Argh: New USB 3.0 Lightning to SD Card Reader Still Doesn’t Support XAVC-S


Apple released their new USB 3.0 Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader last week alongside the release of iOS 9.2, so I wanted to post some follow-up on my previous post on importing XAVC-S videos to the iPad.

This new adapter transfers media from the SD card to your iOS device at USB 3.0 speeds (theoretically up to 10x faster than USB 2). The caveat is that this extra speed is only available on the iPad Pro, since it’s the only iOS device with USB 3.0 hardware built into the Lightning port. That speed is helpful for transferring large numbers of RAW files from a day of shooting, so it’s something that professional photographers can take advantage of immediately.

Unfortunately for my Sony A6000 and the XAVC-S format, this newest USB 3.0 Lightning-to-SD adapter still isn’t of any use to me.

That USB 3.0 speed would be incredibly handy for sending HD video from a camera straight to your iPad Pro. I took some XAVC-S video at a birthday party recently, and the resulting 30–40 mins of footage was 8 GB on the SD card. The difference between USB 2 and USB 3 speeds in file transfers that large is a marked difference.

Before testing the new reader, I made sure my iPad was updated iOS 9.2. My hope was that, between the new hardware of the USB 3.0 reader and the updates in iOS 9.2, something may have changed since my previous post on XAVC-S. However, when I connected the SD card to the iPad, I was presented with an all-too-familiar sight: all of my pictures showed up in the Import tab of Photos, but I still couldn’t see any of my videos.

Apple’s own staff are also quite under-trained in this area; I visited two different Apple Stores asking about this, but it seemed too niche a question for the retail locations. I don’t expect everyone to be an expert on codecs (I’m still learning about them myself), but I find it absurd that a specialized Apple accessory like this SD card reader can’t recognize the XAVC-S .mp4 files from my A6000 (which means Sony A7 users are out of luck, as well).

From what I can tell, Apple’s own support documents say that iOS 9 and the Reader support the video I’m recording. Here’s the document for supported iOS video formats and the description of the SD Card reader says “…supports standard photo formats, including JPEG and RAW, along with SD and HD video formats, including H.264 and MPEG–4”.

iOS 9 can definitely recognize and edit XAVC-S files, though. I’ve done just that by AirDropping the videos over from my Mac, but that still requires the Mac to act as a middleman. The hardware support for fast video transfer is present in this newest Camera Card Reader, but the software support is still lacking as of iOS 9.2.

This article only reflects the view of a Sony camera user trying to get XAVC-S video to an iPad Pro. I can’t speak for how the SD card adapter plays with video from other camera manufacturers (e.g., Olympus, Panasonic, Nikon, Canon), so if your camera is working nicely with this adapter, let us know the details in the comments.

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3-Speed Portable Turntable & Music Player from 1byone on sale at 25% off

Stereo Portable TurntableLooking for a Christmas gift for that special person in your life who has everything?  We’ve got a unique product to share with you that is sure to stir up some nostalgia for a generation of music lovers who can still remember what a record player is.  Although, you don’t have to have old LP’s lying around the house to love this classic retro-style, fully functional, Belt-Drive 3 Speed Stereo Portable Turntable  from our friends at 1byone.  Here are some of the features that make it such a charming throwback, and worth your consideration this holiday season…

  • Selectable 33/45/78 RPM speeds settings.
  • Dynamic, balanced tone arm with soft damping control.
  • Front-facing built-in speakers provide great sound.
  • With RCA and headphone jack outputs/ line in port mounted on the side, easy to operation and support multiple music playback modes.
  • Wooden cabinet with PU leather wrapping, the briefcase-styled turntable is lightweight, easy to store and transport.
Starting today, and running until Friday, 12/11/15 at midnight, you can get this combo record/music player that also let’s you listen to all your favorite digital music from your iPad/iPhone/iPod, at a steep discount.  Simply enter the Coupon Code T4FZXUOH when checking out at Amazon, and save an additional $20 off the retail price.  That means you can purchase your very own black, turquoise, or denim colored portable turntable for only $56.99 with free shipping included!
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Apple’s Magic Keyboard As An iPad Keyboard 

Apple’s new $99 Magic Keyboard comes with iMacs, but I think it also makes a great accessory for iPad owners. I went to the Apple Store yesterday to test one out and came away very pleased with the results.

The travel on the keys is much better than the previous generation wireless keyboards, which required a little too much force to register a key press. This new Magic Keyboard feels a lot more like the 12–inch MacBook keyboard, which I also really like. My hands just fly along the keys, and I was able to type at my standard 80–100 wpm (words per minute) within just a few minutes of testing. The slight tilt in the keyboard also makes long form typing a little more comfortable on my wrists.

It also no longer matters that the Magic Keyboard lacks a dedicated home button, thanks to the new keyboard shortcuts in iOS 9. Command + Tab switches between apps, Command + H goes to the home screen, and Command + Space triggers Spotlight search. These shortcuts work on any keyboard attached to an iPad, and so they work perfectly on the Magic Keyboard.

Finally, the Magic Keyboard also makes a great tablet companion because it’s lithium ion battery charges with a Lightning cable. This is a big improvement over the previous 2x AA batteries required to power the previous wireless keyboard, and it also means you’ll only require one cable (Lightning!) to charge your iPad writing setup. The latter could be a deciding factor for a lot of people, since most every other Bluetooth keyboard on the market requires micro USB to charge. If you’re the type of person who wants to reduce bag clutter, the Magic Keyboard could be a great addition to your gear kit.

The only caveat is that you’ll need another accessory to stand your iPad up. I’d recommend the Twelve South Compass if you’re looking for a flexible stand that will be useful anywhere in the house; I vastly prefer it to the Smart Cover for use in writing situations.

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Apple introduces the new Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro


Apple’s Special Media event last week was chalked full of new product announcements and improvements to their current hardware and software lineups.  There was so much to talk about that it was easy to miss the importance of any one announcement over another.  For those of us especially interested in the iPad Pro, there were some really awesome accessories that were also announced.  We already talked about the Apple Pencil, and what we think having a dedicated drawing tool for a professional device like the iPad Pro could accomplish in the hands of talented iOS  developers.  Now its time to shift gears and put the spotlight on the Smart Keyboard–a new keyboard Apple specially designed to  integrate seamlessly with the iPad Pro.

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Taking A Chance On Dual USB Port 12W ChargeTech Charger

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 8.24.42 PM

I’ve been using the charger that came with my iPad Air 2, but it has only one USB port, whereas I carry four devices on me on a daily basis: my  iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and Sony camera. I charge most of my gadgets on a daily basis, and although I have enough power at home, it becomes a bit of a hassle when I’m outside.

I was reading a Wirecutter article on multi-USB Port chargers the other day when I stumbled upon the $20 ChargeTech charger. It’s worth mentioning the ChargeTech was not their top pick (due to price), but they had nothing but good things to say about it otherwise.

It’s just a little bigger than the tiny cube charger that comes with iPhones, but its prongs can fold in. But that alone wouldn’t  be enough reason to buy another charger.

The real draw of the ChargeTech is its dual USB port, both of which feature 2.4A of power. That means this little charger is able to provide enough power for two iPads, simultaneously. That feature, combined with the amazingly small size, has me absolutely sold on this product.

I’m picking up two right now: one for me and another for my dad. Expect a review in the coming weeks, once I’ve had a little time to test.

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Quick Look: Nimblstand–providing unique functionality for your iPad + Apple Wireless Keyboard.

Nimblstand-Gravity Nesting

When it comes to keyboards that are compatible to use with my iPad–I have always had a soft spot for the Apple Wireless Keyboard. It’s a great combination of a full size keybaord that’s not too large, but still feels sturdy and comfortable to type on. One drawback, though, is that with the Apple Wireless Keyboard, you have no practical solution to use it with your iPad when a flat working surface is unavailable . If you want to work on your iPad in a car or any other circumstance where your lap is the closest you are going to get to a table, I have found that your best options are keyboard cases that provide all-in-one solutions.

While there is absoulutely nothing wrong with this use case, I wanted more options, and I wanted at least one of them to include the Apple Wireless Keyboard.  When I discovered the Nimblstand I was intrigued by the possibility of finally being able to type on my lap without compromises.  The Nimblstand is very lightweight (less than 0.5 lbs) becasue it is made out of recycled materials–so carryong it around isn’t a burden.

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