The iPad and accessories: What you need to know

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Cases, bags, and other protection: Wait, what? That’s right, we’ve included these sundries here. Not because we think anyone would try to put their iPad inside an iPhone case—that would be silly. No, we included cases and bags here because, as you may have noticed from our big iPad case roundups (parts one and two), many vendors announced, and in some cases even released, iPad bags and cases before the iPad was available. We’ve now seen around 30 of these products, and of those, we’ve found that some early bags—such as those from Belkin, Griffin, and Tom Bihn—fit the iPad perfectly, while others, well, don’t. (Most of the latter are too big, rather than too small, so at least they’re still usable.) So, caveat emptor.

We’ll be reviewing bags and cases for the iPad to help you choose the right one, but here are two quick tips: First, if you’re shopping online for an iPad bag, and you see one that’s already available for purchase, check the bag’s specs with Apple’s iPad specifications, or e-mail the vendor, to confirm that the shipping product actually fits the iPad well; some vendors are retooling their bags and cases now that the iPad is officially available. Second, if you see a bag that claims to be perfect for both iPads and netbooks, be doubly careful. Of the bags we’ve seen in person that claim to work with both classes of products, only a few (such as Tom Bihn’s Ristretto for iPad/Netbooks and Skooba’s Netbook/iPad Messenger) actually fit the iPad well—the iPad is much thinner than the typical netbook and ends up swimming around in the computer compartment in many of these bags.

What about screen films and all-over protective films? PCWorld stress-tested the iPad and found that the device’s screen was “scratch-proof,” even when PCWorld editors attempted to etch the glass with a nail. Given our own scratch-free experiences with the iPhone 3GS, which uses a similarly robust glass screen, a protective screen film doesn’t seem all that necessary (and, in fact, interferes with the screen's oleophobic finish). The exceptions would be films that reduce glare or provide off-angle privacy. As for full-body films such as InvisibleShield and BodyGuardz, we’ve been impressed by the anti-scratch protection they provide for the bodies of Mac laptops, but we haven’t yet tested the fit and finish of each company’s iPad films; we hope to do so soon.

If you have any other accessory-compatibility questions, let us know in the comments. We’ll of course be reviewing lots of iPad accessories in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned for more information of specific products.

[Dan Frakes is a senior editor for Macworld.]

Updated 4/7/2010, 3:29pm: Added new information about mono Bluetooth headsets and the iPad.

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At a Glance
  • Apple iPad 10W USB Power Adapter

  • Apple iPad Dock

  • Apple iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter

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