Everything You Need To Know About Buying Accessories For Your New iPad [Buyer's Guide]

The new iPad is almost identical to the old iPad, in terms of its physical dimensions at least. This means that many of your old accessories will fit it, and some will not. Styluses, of course, will be just fine, but cases and docks will either just squeeze on, or not fit at all.

So what should you look out for when considering an upgrade for your accessories as well as your iPad?

Cases

The new iPad is a hair thicker than the iPad 2, and the edges of the case taper slightly faster than those on the old, ugly, now-useless iPad. This, I figure, is to make the new iPad look slim. But it will also serve to make the new iPad fit into many docks and stands you may already have.

Case Recommendation

Logtch 3 island

Zagg Keyboard Case for the New iPad

The Zagg/Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2 holds the iPad at a tilt by its edge. The edge drops into a shallow slot, and a lip stops it from popping out as it leans back. Checking the one I have here, it seems that there is room for a millimeter more of iPad in there, but with the edge of the iPad itself being similarly shaped, you should be good to go. And as the new iPad is the same length and width as the old one, you should be fine using it as a case as well as a keyboard.

If you don’t already have one, though, Logitech is making a version specifically for the new iPad, for the same $99 as the old one, and with specs so similar they may have been copied and pasted from the iPad 2 version.

Connectors

Lots of things can connect to the iPad’s 30-pin connector, from blood-pressure gauges through external digital-analog converters for audiophiles to plain old chargers. Anything with a cable should work fine, as Apple hasn’t changed this connector since it switched the original iPod away from FireWire.

Anything that has a more intimate connection, though, might be troublesome. If you bought BWW with an iPad dock and expected to be able to use it for more than a year, for example, you might be out of luck.

Connector Recommendation

Photo Håkan Dahlström (CC By 2.0)

Everything You Need To Know About Buying Accessories For Your New iPad [Buyer's Guide]

Not all iPad 2 accessories will work with the new iPad.

Apple’s Camera Connection Kit

One of the best accessories for your new iPad is one of the oldest: Apple’s camera connection kit. It will also let you hook up various USB accessories to the iPad, but its real purpose — to get video and photos from your camera to your iPad.

Like anything that connects to the 30-pin connector, the kit will work perfectly with the new iPad. And this $29 pair of dongles is going to be even more useful with the third-gen iPad: That retina display is better than any of your Mac displays in terms of resolution, so while you might not be processing your RAW images on the iPad, you will certainly want to be reviewing them and making galleries in iPhoto.

I bought a camera connection kit for my iPad 1 and it has proved to be one of the best iPad accessories I have.

The Apple camera connection kit

Styluses

Of course, any stylus you already own will work just fine with the new iPad. All they do is act as a proxy for your meaty finger, telling the capacitive touch-screen that it is being touched, But there is one truly outstanding stylus that you should consider, and one experimental new stylus that will be strictly iPad third-gen only.

Stylus Recommendations

Wacom bamboo stylus for ipad 3

Wacom Bamboo Stylus

If you’re going to buy regular stylus, take a look at the Wacom Bamboo stylus. I bought one for myself a couple weeks ago and it really is the best I have used.

Wacom knows about the feel of stylus-on-tablet, and also — from its Cintiq line of graphics tablet/screen hybrids — stylus-on-glass. The Bamboo features a hollow rubber tip, just like any other stylus (other than the awful foam-tipped ones), but the rubber glides over the iPad’s screen like no other. More importantly, it keeps gliding, even on a dirty screen, Even otherwise great styluses as the Alupen, get gummed up and stick to the screen after a while.

The Bamboo is also heavy enough and well balanced. But what I like most is that you can let it skitter lightly on the screen and it does nothing, Somehow, thanks to a gap between the outer rubber tip and the inner rubber tip, you need to press ever-so-slightly to register a touch. This is really great for painting apps.

The Wacom Bamboo stylus comes in a rainbow of colors and can be found for as little as $20. Do yourself a favor and buy this one.

Wacom Bamboo stylus for the new iPad

Pd bluetiger preview demo

Ten One Pressure Sensitive Bluetooth 4 Stylus

One big new feature of the new iPad is Bluetooth 4, also found in the iPhone 4S. Bluetooth 4’s main advantages are super-low battery consumption, and easier, automatic pairing. On the iPhone, these are great for fitness peripherals. On the iPad, they’re going to be good for input devices.

Ten One’s pressure-sensitive iPad stylus is one such device. Codenamed Blue Tiger, the pen runs of coin-cell batteries and yet still manages to know how hard you are pressing and send that info to the iPad. Apps need to be compatible, but freely available APIs mean developers can add support easily.

Take that, Samsung Galaxy Note!

Screen Protectors

You’re going to want to keep that gorgeous retina display scratch free. One way to do this is keep your iPad swaddled in a case, but even Apple’s own Smart Cover doesn’t stop the odd key or coin from sliding inside (if you don’t believe me, take a look at my iPad’s screen). The other way is to use a screen protector.

Screen Protectors Recommendation

404792

Defense Pro

You’re going to want to keep that gorgeous retina display scratch free. One way to do this is keep your iPad swaddled in a case, but even Apple’s own Smart Cover doesn’t stop the odd key or coin from sliding inside (if you don’t believe me, take a look at my iPad’s screen). The other way is to use a screen protector.

The new iPad’s screen is the same size as the old one, so you can re-use any cover you already have (as long as it is reusable, of course). And the Defense Pro from X-Doria looks as good as any. It comes overlaid with its own extra grid-patterned layer to make it easier to get on straight, and is made from a self-healing material which swallows scratches as they happen. Think of it as the Wolverine of screen protectors, only less surly.

The Defense Pro costs $30

[Thanks, Andrew!]

Docks

Docks hug your iPad like a child hugs its filthy comfort blanket, and as such are the most likely things to become obsolete when the new iPad launches. But fear not: those helpful accessory makers have your best interests at heart, and will be updating their most popular lines to work with the new iPad. Better still, they’ll even let you give them some more money in exchange.

Dock Recommendation

Everything You Need To Know About Buying Accessories For Your New iPad [Buyer's Guide]

Ten One Magnus

Even the folks at Ten One design are waiting to see whether the magnetic Magnus Dock will fit the new iPad: “We’ll know on the 16th of March,” says the FAQ entry. But if you already have a Magnus, don’t worry too much: your dock mightn’t fit perfectly, but it should still work.

The Magnus is a minimal dock that clamps onto the back of the iPad using magnets, grabbing in the same way as your Smart Cover. Thus secured, the iPad appears to float above the desk when viewed from the front.

Because the Magnus will work even through a protective skin, and because the curve on the new iPad isn’t so different for the iPad 2, the dock should still stick. Bottom line: Don’t order one now, but wait until you you have the iPad in hand.

The Magnus costs $50

Speakers

The best kind of speaker is the one which connects by a jack cable or Bluetooth. Not only is it guaranteed to still be compatible with your iPad for more than one year, it will — dollar for dollar — be better, as the manufacturer doesn’t have to pay license fees to Apple.

So, forget about the gimmicky dock/speaker combos and go for something more grown up.

Speaker Recommendation

Everything You Need To Know About Buying Accessories For Your New iPad [Buyer's Guide]

Photo Charlie Sorrel (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

JawBone JamBox

The JamBox is a little rechargeable Bluetooth speaker with a big sound. It’s not going to replace your home stereo, but it doesn’t have to. With the bass of a much bigger box, a whole host of cute (and customizable) alert sounds and a fantastic Live Audio mode which makes movies and music appear as if they are coming from all around you, the JamBox does a ton of stuff even a high-end stereo cannot. You can even use its built in mic to make and receive calls.

Actually, when I said it wouldn’t replace a home stereo, I was wrong. I never plug my big speakers in any more. It’s just way more convenient to use the JamBox. Podcasts in the shower, anyone?

The JamBox costs $200. Yes, $200, but it’s worth it.

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  • Gregintosh

    I haven’t used a screen protector with my iPad 2 at all and I have only a few tiny scratches around the top bezel area but none on the screen. They came about through using a dirty cloth to clean it, a mistake I haven’t repeated since and don’t plan to.

    I don’t think a screen protector is really all that necessary for use. For travel, if you put it in a sleeve for safekeeping that should keep away any scratchy material away anyway.

    The biggest drawback of screen protectors is you lose the nice glass feel and replace it with a less than ideal rubbery or plastic-y feel. I don’t think the benefit is worth the drawback, especially given gorilla glass which is not really that prone to scratches.

    (If anything, the iPhone which goes in and out of pockets all the time is a better candidate, and even that doesn’t scratch too easily if you don’t mix it with coins or keys).

    The second drawback of screen protectors is you will get dust and debris trapped along the edges, around the home button, etc. Its inevitable. And as you try to remove it, it gets deeper and deeper in there. Ultimately, you have to change them after a while. 

    For the record, I used a screen protector 100% of the time with my original iPad for the entire year, so I have had equal experience with iPads with or without a screen protector. What made me originally take mine off (and not opt to put one on the iPad was me going to an Apple store and playing with an iPad on display realizing it felt better than the one I had at home.

    I highly recommend against screen protectors for anyone but the most accident prone or folks who are reckless with the way they handle electronics. There’s a reason why Apple stopped carrying them in the stores and that is they are mostly unnecessary.

  • Towelie

    i completly agree
    i dont like screen protectors on my ipad
    it doesnt feel as good as the glass and the screen gets dirter and doesnt look as clean and sharp

  • BrainGameMayhem

    Ghost Armor, all the way.

  • Jeff1741

    What are people’s thoughts on the Smart Cover?

  • Jeff1741

    What are people’s thoughts on the Smart Cover?

  • Jordan Clay

     I like them because of the finger print reduction capabilities. 
    I, like you, don’t really need them for protection.  I have had my iPhone 4 in my pocket for well over a year and I only have a few tiny scratches on the back. 

  • Jordan Clay

     I would prefer them to cover the back.   Also, the leather is super cheap and pretty pricey.   If you are going to spend that much look on Etsy and get a real wood and leather one.  It will look 1,000x better and be unique.

  • Jeff1741

    I was thinking about a polyurethane Smart Cover, combined with something like the Belkin Snap Shield (a case that covers just the back). That way, the back is protected, and you can still use the Smart Cover.

  • Blake Beavers

    I highly recommend the smart cover. I almost never take mine off. It makes a perfect desk stand, keyboard stand, and will protect the screen when you put it in a bag. I don’t really mind no back protection, because I never take it off, I just flip it to the back when I set the iPad on a desk. The bright colors do tend to get a little dirty, but a wet rag cleans them nicely.

  • Trey Cranson

    The cable comment, I had an issue with. I’ve tried charging a friend’s iPad 2 using the old iPod charging cable (back when they were larger and had built-in locking) and it didn’t charge.

  • Laura LJ Painton

    I charged my iPad 2 with old charging cables all the time.  The iPad would say “not charging” at the top where the battery life is usually shown, but I quickly found that it really was charging, so the words “not charging” are just a glitch.

  • Dilbert A

    Agreed, stop using my Smart Cover because a lack of rear protection. 

    If that doesn’t concern you, then it a good buy.

    The red looks dope, but go with the poly for easier cleaning and wear.

  • Dilbert A

    That’s the best combo out there. I’m ordering a new Etsy sleeve, myself.

  • Dilbert A

    I quick wipe on a t-shirt clears finger prints easily with the iPad’s oleophobic coating.

  • MWinNYC

    Does anyone have any experience with the X-doria products- Defense Pro Screen protector, or the Engage rear cover?  I can’t find any on-line reviews of these products.  They are a little pricey and I don’t want to waste my money.

About the author

Charlie Sorrel Charlie Sorrel is the Reviews Editor here on Cult of Mac. Follow Charlie  on Twitter at @mistercharlie.

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