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.
The BookBook case for the 9.7″ iPad Pro is not only a very functional iPad case, but it’s also one of the best looking I have had the opportunity to review. If you’re unfamiliar with the BookBook brand, it is the brainchild of the great folks at Twelve South, and it is available for the iPhone, iPad and Mac. The BookBook is a hardback leader case that wears like an old book. I have always enjoyed the worn, weathered look that comes with regular usage of leather. The natural patina that develops on each BookBook gives it a unique character typically reserved for higher-end quality made products.
The HiRise 2 is a simple, elegant and sturdy lightning powered charging stand for the iPad and iPhone. It’s made by the excellent folks at Twelve South, so you know going in that it will be a quality product. From my experience, the list of iPad stands that are functional and also something that you would be proud to have on display at your workplace is short. So when I went looking for a stand that would work for my iPad and iPhone, I was encouraged to see that the HiRise 2 had just been released. Although I liked the original HiRise Deluxe, the improvements made to the HiRise 2 solidified it as my preferred stand, and here’s why.
iBeani 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.
The Logitech CREATE Keyboard Case for the 9.7″ iPad Pro is an exceptional accessory that compliments the already versatile and powerful addition to the iPad Pro lineup. The original iPad was introduced in 2010, and with every iteration and improvement it has shed the simple content consumption device label, and become a more powerful and effective tool. However, even with the newest variant, there are still neigh sayers out there on the fence about the the full capabilities of the iPad Pro, whether it be the 9.7 or 12.9 version. Despite this, the CREATE Keyboard Case makes an undeniable assertion that the iPad Pro will be a more than adequate solution for the majority of users–even the most demanding power users, and here’s why.
The $90 Pad & Quill Contega Thin is similar to the Contega Linen, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. It shares the same Moleskine-style elastic band for closing the cover, and the exterior is still wrapped in durable linen. It’s still a great case for adding scratch and drop protection, without sacrificing on class. Adding a Contega to your iPad Pro is like dressing it up in a sports jacket with cleverly hidden elbow pads beneath.
But the Contega Thin makes a different set of concessions in its design than the thicker Contega Linen. Instead of housing the iPad Pro in a gorgeous wooden frame, the Contega Thin uses a removable 3M adhesive to bind the iPad to the case. This makes the install a little tougher initially because you need to be more careful about how you line the iPad with the adhesive. Thankfully, the 3M sticker is both strong and forgiving — meaning that it can stand repeated installs. Once the iPad is set, you’ll completely forget your gigantic tablet is tethered to the case by a thin layer of adhesive. Your iPad Pro will not be falling out.
Pad & Quill have a pretty long history of making premium cases for iOS devices. Their signature style has been a wooden frame paired with leather that drips with sophistication. I admit I am sucker for wrapping new tech in tanned skins, but previous Pad & Quill iPad cases just didn’t appeal to me.
My approach to everything before the 12.9″ iPad Pro was that tablets should be as light as possible, because I was supposed to just be able to pick them up and read them like pieces of paper. As gorgeous as Pad & Quill cases are, the wooden frames inevitably added weight and girth to the device, which made the tablet too heavy to easily hold in one hand.
However, now that I’m an iPad Pro user, I almost always tend to lean or rest the tablet against something, so the increased size and weight from this case matter a lot less. In fact, I think this is the device size that these Pad & Quill designs have been waiting for. The Contega Linen feels right at home on my extra large tablet.
The last time I bought Apple’s SD Card Camera Reader, I ended up feeling disappointed and returning it within a day. However, I thought I’d revisit this particular accessory now that I’ve switched cameras. Instead of using a Sony A6000, I’m now using a Fuji X-Pro 2. The JPEG files on this new camera are larger, and the movies are actually transferable to iOS, so I now have a much better use case for this little adapter.
I shoot files large enough files (12-15 MB JPEGs) in a large enough capacity (around 50 shots on a given day) that Wi-Fi transfers aren’t really a great solution for me any more. I can still pull the camera out to transfer 5-10 shots with ease, but transferring 20 shots at 24 MP per shot takes upwards of four or five minutes to complete. That’s four minutes of my iPad Pro and camera being completely useless while the transfer happens. In contrast, the transfer of 19 shots via the SD Card Reader takes less than a minute, and still allows me to do other things while the transfer is happening.
GearCase reached out after my previous post about my storage option for the Apple Pencil, and I’m really glad that they did. As accessible as my co-opted Pencil clip was for usage at a desk, it did feel a little precarious for storage in a full bag. The Pencil usually stayed in place, but it could easily get caught on other objects in my bag during transit because it was only secured to the iPad at one point.
The Pencil Pocket from GearCase is secure and keeps the Pencil snug against the iPad Pro during transit. I don’t have any concerns about the stylus falling out or getting scratched by other items in my bag.
It’s been about six weeks since I wrote about the Smart Keyboard, so I thought it was about time to post an update on the medium-term experience. I won’t discuss the general typing details, but rather focus on the smaller stuff that you can only glean after an extended period with a device.
This was the thing I was most worried about when the Smart Keyboard came out. I saw Harry McCracken’s tweet about the paint on his keys wearing off and worried that the same would happen to mine. This wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal if this were a conventional keyboard with plastic key caps, but the Smart Keyboard isn’t repairable. Any damage done to the keys would require a complete replacement, and those were very hard to come by during the holiday season.
Fortunately, I really have nothing to report on this front, and no news is good news as far as durability is concerned. All of my keys are still in the same condition: none of them feel lose, and they still respond to contact evenly, regardless of where you hit the key (which is one of my favourite features of this keyboard). I am seeing a few more distinct oil stains, but I expect to see that on any keyboard, and it’s less evident on the fabric keys than it would be on plastic key caps.
I have to say: the Smart Keyboard really didn’t impress me when it was announced alongside the iPad Pro in September. I saw it and immediately thought of it as a Type Cover rip-off (which it still is). It pairs with the iPad via a hardware connection, it has a keyboard embedded in the cover, and it’s usable on the lap — just like the Surface Pro’s keyboard. None of that is really news in the iPad keyboard world. We’ve already seen really impressive offerings from Logitech and Belkin, and Apple’s own keyboard struck me as a very obvious and bland accessory. Its asking price also seemed well above what I would ever want to pay for an iPad keyboard — at $230 CAD, it’s more than any gaming keyboard I’ve ever purchased, and gaming peripherals are known for being far too expensive.
What ended up changing my mind was the feel of the keys. I really like these keys. I love the feel of the grippy fabric under my fingers as I type, and I’m a fan of the shallow dome switches. In contrast to the squishy sound they make, the actual keystrokes are short, sharp, and even. It doesn’t really matter if you hit a key on the corner or right in the middle because it will feel identical.
I’d be lying if I said the keyboard hasn’t been a bit of learning curve though. I love typing on the keys 90% of the time, but I also notice that they can stick a little bit, every once in a while. I think this has to do with a vacuum effect that occurs internally. There are vents along the top of the keyboard to let air in and out of the keyboard to prevent keys from getting stuck in the down position, and my theory is that dust or humidity can affect how well these vents perform. If my iPad is on my desk overnight, I don’t have any issues. However, I can occasionally have some sticky keys for the first 30 minutes after I take the Smart Keyboard out of my bag.