Category Archives: iPad Accessories

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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Phorm iPad Case: Tactile Typing with the On-Screen Keyboard

The upcoming Phorm iPad case is touting the ability to add tactile typing to the iPad on-screen keyboard experience – as shown in the video above. It’s said to take typing on the on-screen keyboard to another level, and it does look quite impressive.

It’s got a few notable limitations though – it will only fit the iPad mini initially, and it’s only designed to support the built-in Apple keyboard (not the new 3rd party keyboards allowed in iOS 8).

The company behind Phorm is Tactus. They’re set to release the product this summer and pre-orders are available now at

Via: 9to5Mac

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I Removed My ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass From My iPad


Remember that ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass protector I wrote about in December? Well, I finally decided to take it off my iPad Air 2 yesterday. I initially bought the shield for the extra scratch protection it could provide — the idea being that ZAGG’s tempered glass might be harder than the glass that Apple uses. This certainly seemed true for scratches, because after a month of abuse, the face of the shield still seemed flawless. However, the same couldn’t be said of the side, which looked like it had been chipped a bit; that part surprised me because I have never dropped this Air 2.

But it wasn’t this minor cosmetic damage that sealed the deal for me. It was the way the shield seemed to work against the design of the Air 2. The extra glass definitely increased the amount of glare, which took away from the crisp right-at-the-surface effect of the iPad’s laminated display. Then there was the negative effect the thicker glass had on TouchID. My theory is that the slight increase in distance between my thumb and the TouchID sensor decreased reading accuracy, so I was getting a lot more failures with the ZAGG shield on than I did without it. Taking it off has been a breath of fresh air, and the sensor is now back to being extremely reliable (much more so than on my iPhone 5S). I had a few commenters back in my December post that called me out on this issue, but after a month of use, I know that this protector did affect TouchID experience.

I plan to keep the Glass around in a drawer in case I send it in for replacement, but I likely won’t install it again; I now know definitively that I prefer the naked iPad screen.

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Nice Move: Apple Retail Stores Showcasing Laptop Style iPad Keyboards

Laptop Style iPad Keyboards

Apple Store in San Francisco, via Harry McCracken.

This is a very nice move by Apple Retail – showcasing laptop style keyboards for the iPad. As Apple Insider reports, tech journalist Harry McCracken spotted this display at a San Francisco Apple store recently, and I think it looks great. And it’s an excellent idea to show off what’s available for the iPad in this area.

Also, it’s particularly good to see this now, while we’re bombarded with TV ads for the Microsoft Surface Pro line of ‘tablets that can replace your laptop’. I’m so, so sick of those ads – and their way overblown claims about the Surface and the bashing of either the iPad or MacBooks in most of them.

Those ads pitch the Surface’s keyboard as some sort of miraculous new innovation for tablets, when the fact is there’s been a huge range of high quality 3rd party keyboard options for the iPad for years now – including some stellar ones that attach as a case. Nearly all of them costs less than the $130 Surface keyboard, which does not come free with the $1,000+ Surface devices.

It’s also good to see this in Apple stores just to raise general user awareness of these keyboard options for the iPad. I need to go take a look at my local Apple store and see which manufacturers’ keyboards are being featured. I hope and expect to see Logitech and ZAGG among them.

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