Best iPad accessories

The iPad is a shiny shiny thing. More coveted than the Rosetta Stone for some and more precious than a newborn baby for others, keeping your new iPad shiny is a near-religious exercise.

So what wondrous items should you be adorning your brand new iPad with? A case to keep it safe? Perhaps a designer dock through which to blast out your music? Whatever it is, it needs to look good because the iPad is a thing of beauty that is not to be tarnished.

To save Apple fans from the sadness caused by that first ever scratch on your iPad screen, or the moment you realise the bundled headphones just aren’t that good, Pocket-lint has cooked up a list of the ultimate iPad accessories. Each one is designed to complement the overall iPad experience and ensure that you spend the best possible time with your new purchase.

iPad cases, carriers and protectors

Attempting to list all the possible cases you can wrap around an iPad is an exercise that would take longer than the Bible to write. So we have whittled it down to a few choice cuts from the Apple tree (nice) that would keep even Jonathan Ives himself happy. In theory.

Smart Cover (£35)

First up is the Apple classic itself, the smart cover. Designed to keep the screen of the iPad 2 nice and scratch free, it is simple as it is functional. The back might get completely scratched to hell, but that Retina display is going to stay day-one shiny.

The Smart Cover uses magnets built into the iPad to attach itself, making it easier to take off and put back on than any other cover available. It will also automatically lock and unlock the iPad’s screen and is available in a range of colours, including a rather nice pink which we have ourselves.

Pick up a Smart Cover here

Ally Capellino canvas iPad satchel (£111)

The majority of designer iPad carriers are truly horrendous. Usually with more branding slapped on them than a McDonalds advert, they just don’t do the minimal design of the tablet itself any justice whatsoever. A search through the great library of iPad accessories unearthed this little gem.

Designed specifically for the 11-inch MacBook Air or iPad, this Ally Capellino satchel is big enough to carry your tablet and a few other bits and pieces. It also fits like a messenger bag so is nice and comfy. The best bit however  - should you be Apple obsessed - is that it also has a custom-built iPhone pocket sewn inside.

Grab a Capellino canvas satchel here

Zagg Invisible Shield (£8)

One of the best things you can do to keep your iPad safe is wrap the entire thing in some sort of scratch resistant plastic. Problem is, most of the time it turns your tablet into a portable condom that is glossier than Elton John’s sofa. Zagg has fixed this common issue with its Invisible Shield.

Near impossible to scratch, the only real problem with the Invisible Shield is how difficult it is to fix to your tablet. We suggest ordering two as, believe us, the first is going to be air bubble city.

Zagg's shields can be bought here

Cables, charging and connectivity

Just because the iPad doesn’t have a dedicated USB slot doesn’t mean its devoid of connectivity options. As the tablet device dominating the market, manufacturers have churned out all sorts of clever devices for charging, connecting, swapping and controlling your iPad. These are the ones to pick up.

Apple Digital AV Adapter (£35)

The iPad is capable of sending its screen out to all sorts of different devices, including your TV. Using the digital AV adapter you can send a signal from your tablet via HDMI as well as audio. Apps and video will mirror themselves on whatever display the tablet is hooked up to.

What does this mean? Well first up you can give family slideshows using the likes of iPhoto, or show off your Fruit Ninja skills to friends on a big screen. On the business side of things, it means any presentations made in the keynote app, say, can be blown up on a HDMI-capable projector. Useful stuff. 

Buy it here

Apple TV (£99)

Why is this here? The iPad and Apple TV live in a relative state of symbiosis that is unlike most gadgetry. Thanks to AirPlay, you can push audio and video from the tablet straight to your Apple TV, which will then send it through your television set or speakers. 

Having an Apple TV also brings with it the added bonus of well, having an Apple TV. So you get all the iOS style loveliness, 1080p iTunes movie downloads - which, by the way, look great on the new iPad screen - and much much more. Worth it for £99.

Grab one here

Apple camera connector kit (£25)

Okay we admit the need to purchase this piece of kit is rather irritating. If you do own a camera, being able to connect it to your tablet, by either USB or SD card reader, is a bit of a necessity. If you own one of the larger iPads, then it is also entirely possible to use it as a portable camera backup. Just connect your snapper and offload shots as you are going, then use iPhoto and the beautiful Retina display to check up on shots.

Being an official Apple product, it is also well built and comes in the usual glossy white. Great if you are the sort of person who takes issue with cable interrupting the design ethos of your beloved tablet.

Buy it here

Duracell 5 hour USB charger (£29)

Oh so very boring on the outside, but so useful on the inside. This black Duracell-branded box can carry around 5 hours of extra power for you to blast into your iPad should its battery begin getting low.

The Duracell box obviously needs charging up first but once you have it juiced, can be carried around in your bag until you should need it. The device is also said to retain its charge quite well, so shouldn’t let you down if you have forgotten to re-charge it after a few months. Cheap and cheerful, it could save you a lot of hassle.

Grab it here

Keyboard docks

Not everyone likes a touch screen. The things can create nasty levels of confusion for those living in the age of the typewriter. Should you be one of these people, then perhaps a keyboard dock is a useful purchase to help with your Luddite ways.

Apple keyboard dock (£56)

Official usually means best with Apple. The standard iPad keyboard dock still features one of the best keyboards you can get and makes typing with the tablet rather nice. It also looks great and acts like a perfect kitchen or bedroom based charging station for your new tablet.

The audio output on the back of the dock is also quite useful should you want to use to connect with your hi-fi. It means you don’t have to keep unplugging things from the top of the iPad and into your sound system.

Grab the dock here

HiPPiH iEagle Foldable Wireless Keyboard (£74)

Plenty of people like the idea of carrying a keyboard with them. There is nothing wrong with avoiding the use of a touch screen should you need to type something at a decent rate of knots. But a big keyboard in your bag detracts slightly from that jet-setter image you are hoping to create with your swish new Apple product.

How to fix this? Well quite easily, using the folding iEagle keyboard, which syncs with your iPad via Bluetooth. It lets you type using a proper QWERTY layout and comes with a carrying case. Need we say more?

Grab the keyboard here 

Zagg Keys Flex keyboard (£54)

The Zagg setup combines keyboard and stand. Behaving like well, a keyboard, you can type messages, emails and all the usual things using a speedier writing interface. The Zagg also employs some clever design techniques, such as using the stand as a cover for the keyboard.

At £59 it sits in line with Apple’s offering but is much more portable. The design of the thing is also relatively decent as is build quality, so expect your iPad to stay looking just as sweet.

Pick up a Zagg here 

Docks and audio

The speakers on the iPad aren’t exactly powerful. They are great if you take the tablet out to the park on a summer’s day say, but they aren’t going to do much good if you plan on throwing a party. This is easily fixed with one of the many docks on the market. What isn’t easy is choosing one from the docks available. Here is our top three.

Bang and Olufsen BeoSound 8 (£895)

Having something B&O with the new iPad is a bit of a no brainer, should you be able to afford it. The design of the BeoSound 8 is rather special, its clean lines and simple speakers not really giving much indication to the kind of audio quality it's capable of.

The BeoSound has a clever room adaptation switch that will adjust bass speaker levels to clear up audio depending on the environment in which the BeoSound is playing. The speakers also work with iPhones and your computer, should you own other Apple devices.

Pick up a BeoSound 8 here

Bowers and Wilkins Zeppelin Air Speakers (£599)

The Zeppelin is a bit of an iPad accessory classic. It features AirPlay connectivity that will allow you to stream music wirelessly from your tablet to the speaker. It also looks and sounds great, a must for any accessory that costs close to £500.

The design of the Zeppelin makes for a complete room-filling sound, helped along partly by the high-tech tweeters taken from Bowers and Wilkin’s MM1 computer speakers. A worthy accessory for those after top-end audio output from their new iPad.

Grab a Zeppelin here 

Philips DC390 (£110)

Not everyone wants to dish out mega bucks for an iPad dock. Sometimes just the extra volume alone is enough. Enter the DC390, which will pump up those speakers as well as charge your tablet and wake you up in the morning.

Like an iPad-powered clock radio, it looks decent enough, but this thing is more about function over form. The real bonus of this piece of hardware is that it can dock two different devices at once, charging both an iPhone and iPad.

The Philips DC390 is available here

Headphones

The bundled Apple headphones you get with just about every iDevice aren’t great. They do the job sure, but if you are into audio in any way, then you will likely want to make an upgrade. It’s rather difficult to know where to begin with picking up a new set of headphones, because the choice is vast. What we advise is setting a budget and then aiming for the best in that category, which is what we have done here.

Digital Silence DS-321D (£60)

For an extra £60 on top of your iPad’s asking price you can pick up a set of these DS-321D noise-cancelling headphones. Normally the sort of tech reserved for only the most premium of headphones, you would expect not these to perform. Not so, they are in fact capable of decent sound quality, more so than some competitors costing twice as much.

The headphones are also rechargeable, which means no nasty expensive battery purchases. They work perfectly fine without the noise -cancelling tech running, so if you should run out of juice on, say, a long-haul flight, then they will still sound great.

Pick up a set of DS-321Ds here or read our review here 

Atomic Floyd Super Darts (£200)

Jumping up slightly in the price scale now is the Superdarts put together by Atomic Floyd. Balanced, clear and crisp, they are the best headphones in the company’s line-up and come with built in iPhone and iPad controls. The included controls are also extremely useful should you use the tablet as a music player in your bag, as it allows you to skip and pause tracks without getting the iPad out.

The headphones feature an integrated mic so you can dictate messages using the iPad’s new functionality. Build quality is stellar with the Atomic Floyds and the customer care is also a joy to deal with - good service all round then. Worth the investment if you have the cash.

Grab some Superdarts here, read our review here.

Sennheiser IE 80 (£240)

Right at the top end of the earphone spectrum, the IE 80s had Pocket-lint particularly impressed for their detailed sound and tunable bass response. Quite frankly they just sound brilliant, not a lot else we can say about the IE 80s. They are the headphones to add to your iPad package should budget not be a major issue.

The noise isolating capability of the IE 80s is also pretty much unparalleled, virtually negating the need for any powered noise-cancellation tech. This means no batteries and unlimited playtime. They also come in packaging almost as nice as the iPad’s.

IE 80s can be bought here, review is here.

Subscriptions

Apps are cheap. You are going to fill your iPad with all sorts of 59p gems. But sometimes it’s worth paying that little bit extra to grab an in app subscription. They can usually maximise the potential of your iPad and turn it into a tablet capable of all sorts of mind-boggling media experiences. 

Spotify Premium (£10 pcm)

This is such a no brainer that even if you really  had no brain, you would still subscribe to Spotify if you owned an iPad, despite being incapable of doing anything else. Spotify premium lets you stream unlimited music at 320kbps, as well as store it locally to your iDevices and listen ad-free on your computer. It costs £9.99 per month, about the price of a single CD.

Think of it like iTunes but with an unlimited number of downloads. We have loved Spotify since day one and now with its desktop apps incorporation, it keeps getting better. There might be the odd track missing and major chart hits aren’t always there, but ultimately the monthly fee is easily worth it.

Get Spotify Premium here.

Sky Go (Depends on subscription)

Turning the iPad into a portable TV is a lot easier than you think. Sky Go allows for virtually the entire Sky experience on your iPad. That means watching things like the newly launched F1 channel or catching up on Sky Movies should you have the necessary subscriptions.

The picture quality with Sky Go is also particularly good, even over 3G - which is mighty impressive. It’s not cheap, but if you already have a Sky subscription, then the service comes free with it.

Get Sky Go here

Netflix (£6)

If you are a movie buff then Netflix is what you want. Capable of streaming over 3G on the iPhone, iPad, Android, your TV and just about every other possible piece of hardware. At £6 per month its cheap enough to not add a major financial blip to your data bill, but do remember that streaming movies at this quality is going to chew up your allowance.

The cinematic selection on Netflix isn’t exactly box office stuff, but there is enough on offer to keep most happy and a few surprises which will make nice viewing fodder on your new iPad screen.

Check out our Netflix review here and subscribe here 

Before we go

There are some other bits and bobs you might want to consider picking up for your new iPad to truly complete the whole experience. So what are they? Well first up is a prime selection of apps, problem is there are just too many available to list here. To fix this, we have gone one better and put together a best app roundup for your new tablet. Read that here.

The other piece of hardware you might want to consider, should you have picked up an iPad as an alternative to a laptop, is a case and keyboard combo. Again there are hundreds to choose from, the majority of which look fairly horrible. The simple answer is that this Logitech Zagg keyboard case is the best looking and easiest to use. So we would go for that. 

One final piece of kit you might want to consider picking up for the new iPad is a Wacom Bamboo stylus for the iPad to use with drawing applications. Those who plan on using the tablet as a sketchpad will find it invaluable as it is of course a lot easier than using your fingers to draw with. 

Any other accessories you plan on picking up for your iPad? Let us know in the comments below...