Three iPad accessories to streamline your mobile life

Background.

With the expected launch of the iPad 3 coming soon, I have started to think about how my relationship with iPad has moved from “why?” to “how” in the space of 14 months. Even though I’ve had an iPod for many many years, my first being the iPod mini and replaced the model several times, when the iPad launched I was underwhelmed and switched off to it’s purpose. As regular visitors to my blog will know, my school purchased iPads for classrooms about 12 months ago. Each classroom was given an iPad 1, and so I started to look at what I can use the resource for. As I started using the iPad as an educational tool, I very quickly fell in love with it. This meant that I started using it for other purposes too; surfing the web, research, Keynote presentations, word processing, emailing… and my laptop spent more and more time tucked away in it’s beautiful Paul Smith ‘Mini on Location’ laptop sleeve (which I am yet to find for my iPad!) As soon as iPad 2 arrived, just a few months after school purchased iPad 1, I forked out the cash and invested in the new model.

… I’ve just scrolled up and realised how much I’ve talked, I think it’s time to get to the point…

So I’ve been using my iPad 2 for a year now and it comes everywhere with me. To conferences, to staff meetings, to presentations. But it hasn’t been an easy ride, I’ve had to find ways to overcome some of my problems. Problem 1: Importing photographs/videos from PC Wow syncing photographs and videos can be tricky on iTunes, and working with staff at school to help them can be even trickier.

First purchase: iPad Camera Connection Kit.

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This allows me to plug a digital camera or an SD memory card in to my iPad and transfer photographs and videos straight on to my iPad, then import them into Keynote and all my other apps. (Problem: I did copy photographs from my PC on to my SD card in an attempt to put them on to my iPad and bypass iTunes. This didn’t work, photograph and videos files need to be 8 characters long so that the iPad recognises them.)

Even though I have the official Apple Camera Connection Kit, there are more available for cheaper prices with other inputs, so search on Amazon.

VGA Adapter.

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This is a vital piece of kit for me as I use iPad to present at TeachMeet and other conferences or meetings. The VGA adapter allows me to mirror my iPad screen on a TV or through a projector using the same lead you would connect your laptop and projector. When mirroring Keynote on a TV or projector I can view my presenter notes and timings whilst the audience views only my slides. To enhance my presentation further, I also use Keynote remote on my iPod Touch so that I can navigate through slides.

Wireless Keyboard.

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Apparently a USB keyboard can be plugged in to the iPad using the Camera Connection Kit USB port, but I haven’t tried this myself. Instead, I have bought a bluetooth keyboard. Setting it up is very easy, switch on bluetooth on the iPad and switch on the keyboard. The iPad searches for the keyboard and connects itself.

Why do you need a keyboard when there is an onscreen keyboard though? I asked myself this question for a few months before purchasing.

When using the onscreen keyboard, half of the screen is used to display your app:

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When I am typing using my keyboard, I get full screen all the time which is useful for scrolling up and down the page, website or app:

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I tend to only use the keyboard when typing long emails, working in Pages or on Keynote. It does speed up the process even though the bluetooth takes up extra battery life. Even though I was getting quicker at typing on the onscreen keyboard, this doesn’t compare to the tactile feedback you get from a physical keyboard. A wireless keyboard means I can touch type on my iPad and speeds up my word processing.

There are a wide range of keyboards available, so my advice is not to worry too much about the price, mine was £14. What you should consider is your country though, as my keyboard has a dollar sign rather than a pound sign, so I need to use my onscreen keyboard for that. The keyboar
d does feature other controls for the iPad such as the function keys to navigate to the home screen, photos, search, switch on the onscreen keyboard. The keyboard also controls volume, mute, play skip and pause, and screen brightness.

So there you have it, 3 accessories for my iPad which have enabled me to move awa from my laptop and in to a more wireless and mobile method of working.

 

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