(This turned out to be a popular blog post, but I neglected to mention a favorite product, so I’ve revised the article. See below.)
A collection of products that I’ve been meaning to write about…
First–and this one is free–is the 150-plus page iPad Buyer’s Guide from iLounge. If any one publication is the definitive iPad guide, this must be it. It begins with a very complete guide to every iPad model on the planet–very useful for those who are considering a purchase, a skip-over for those who already own one–then digs into articles about iPad innovators, including Inkling (which makes the interactive travel guides I wrote about last week). Just about every aspect of the iPad culture is explored, including some decidedly weird comments from the doubters (I thought we were past this negative stuff, but obviously, they do not). There are pages and pages about useful accessories, top apps, lots more. What’s more, everything is presented in a punchy, fun-to-browse way. It’s available for your computer screen in one-page or two-page-spread format, or in one-page specifically for the iPad. Nice work!
Second, a surprise, at least to me. I’ve used an iPhone for years, and an iPad for a year or so. The input device is my finger, and until yesterday, that worked just fine. Just for fun, I tried an iPad stylus. I liked it. A lot. There are lots of iPad styli available–including the colorful series of Bamboo stylus products from Wacom, and the one I used, the AluPen from Just|Mobile. The AluPen is about four inches long, and feels like a fat crayon. The rubber tip makes contact with the screen’s surface with surprising accuracy. I was able to execute every iPad function more smoothly (and with no fingertip oil or friction), so the experience seemed smoother, quicker, and more precise. Consistent with current trends, stylus makers now offer two models, one with a built-in pen (the kind you use to write on paper, the kind with ink). The AluPen Pro uses Pelikan ink, which seems consistent with Just|Mobile’s higher-quality approach to their whole product line. Before you buy, be sure to explore the extensive text, pictures and video on The Verge.
Third, remote power. At January’s Consumer Electronics Show, lots of companies were showing remote power accessories for both iPhone and iPad. Once again, I was impressed by the Just|Mobile products, despite their odd name: Gum. The Gum Plus is the smaller unit, designed mostly for the iPhone (which it can charge several times without being refreshed), and, in a pinch, you can use it to charge the iPad, if not fully, then enough to keep working for a while. For the iPad, you’ll want the larger, and somewhat heavier, Gum Max, which carries enough portable power to completely recharge an iPad, and then, an iPhone. The way this works: you plug the GUM into your AC outlet, fill it with power, and then, carry it with you. When you need the power, you plug your iPhone or iPad into the portable GUM unit. Then, when time and access permit, you recharge the GUM, and, presumably, your iPhone and iPad, too. Some people will use these devices regularly. If you plan to use the Gum only sometimes, you must remember to discharge and recharge the unit for best results.
Fourth, remote storage. Apple designed the iPad so that its local storage would be limited… and the cloud would provide the rest. Unfortunately, even 64GB is not enough local storage for those who rely upon the iPad as their primary portable device, and there is no such thing as a USB Flash Drive or SD Card to augment storage. I am very impressed with the idea of the Seagate’s GoFlex Satellite Drive, and as soon as it’s up and running, I will report back to you.
I reposted because I forgot my favorite new iPad accessory. It’s an eraser. But it doesn’t erase ink or pencil. It erases the ridiculous smudges that magically appear on every iPad screen. I use it often, especially on sunny days when the reflected finger grease (sorry) makes it difficult to see the screen properly. So, here’s the solid plastic 3-inch by 4-inch white plastic eraser with a specially-made black bottom…my best friend when the smudges become annoying on an otherwise beautiful day. The company is Best iProducts. The iEraser costs $14.95, and it’s proudly made in America. They can imprint company logos. It works on a bare screen, but not with a screen protector. All of which is nice to know, but what I really like is that this little eraser really works. First time, every time. Smudges gone! And it couldn’t be simpler. Small company, good product, who could ask for anything more?