Want to make your 32 GB iPad a notebook? Grab these five accessories!
Notebook-ify your iPad
Not too long ago, we had written about why anyone in the market for a budget notebook, especially for their children, would do well to consider the iPad as an option as well. In the past, using that option would have meant spending a pretty penny on accessories and going around looking like a dongle-carrying stand (we wrote about it waaay back in 2014). Fortunately, thanks to a number of software and hardware improvements, you do not need quite as many accessories to get your iPad into notebook mode.
Still, if you have decided to follow that path and are going for the base iPad which starts at Rs 29,990 (it got even better with a launch of the new iPad, 8th Generation, with a more powerful chip), then here are five accessories that will make your iPad even more notebook-like. And no, they do not necessarily cost a bomb.
1. Cover with a stand: Prop it up please
You have to start with basics, and we would recommend getting a cover for your iPad. Not just any cover, though. If you want to morph this tablet into a lean, mean typing machine, get a cover with a stand. This will allow you to prop up the iPad, whether you type on its onscreen keyboard (and you can do so, although writing really long pieces might be difficult. Apple’s own iPad covers allow you to do this but if you find them too expensive (they start at Rs 4,500 officially), you can opt for third party ones too. You can get one for as little as Rs 1,000 if you time your purchases right. If you can get one that gives you multiple viewing angles, that would be awesome. We would recommend buying one which gives you the option to add an Apple Pencil to it, in case (pun unintended) you wish to invest in one later.
There are some who prefer a cover that has a keyboard in it but we would recommend one that is simply a cover. A keyboard simply adds too much weight to the cover and forces you to carry around a keyboard even when you do not need it. And is also way more expensive. But of course, you DO need a keyboard to make your iPad a notebook, which takes us to the next point.
A good budget option: Robustrion Marble Series Trifold Hard Back Flip Case Cover with Pencil Holder for iPad.
2. Bluetooth keyboard: Just your type
So you have your iPad with a cover that can prop it up. This brings us to the feature that many consider being the most important part of a notebook – the keyboard. Of course, you can now even connect a wired keyboard to your iPad, but doing that would involve using an adaptor. Bluetooth keyboards are much more convenient, allowing you to place the keyboard anywhere without worrying about tripping up on wires and the like.
As we mentioned in the previous point, you can get a keyboard in the cover itself but we would recommend going for a stand-alone Bluetooth keyboard. You could even get one with a trackpad, but we would recommend going for something that is more compact so that it does not add to the overall weight of the device. Just make sure the keyboard is comfortable enough to use. Backlighting is an option but then that again adds to the price. Remember to go for a Bluetooth keyboard, and not a wireless one – a wireless one will need an adaptor!
A good budget option: Targus KB55 AKB55TT Bluetooth Multi-Platform Keyboard
3. A mouse: Point and click stuff
The jury is out whether you actually need a mouse with your iPad. After all, you get a very good touchscreen to navigate on. That said, having a mouse can make it infinitely easier for you to select multiple files and images and also to highlight text. Apple has included support for Bluetooth mice in iOS 13 and they work just fine with it. So yes, go ahead and grab a mouse if your work involves a lot of selecting and moving items onscreen. We actually think it works a whole lot better than a trackpad on a keyboard which might end up cramping your keys and being bulky. And hey, a decent mouse will not hit your budget by too much either.
A good budget option: Mi Portable Wireless Mouse
4. Staying connected: Lightning to USB/ card adapter
It might have improved hardware and software but one department where the iPad still loses out to notebooks is in terms of connecting ports. The base iPad comes with just a single lightning port and a 3.5 mm audio jack. And that could make life complicated if you need to connect other devices to it. With improved Bluetooth connectivity, this is not as much as an issue as before – you can connect wirelessly to most new gadgets – but yes, if you are looking at plugging something as basic as a good old flash drive or a micro SD card, then you are going to need an adapter.
Apple has its own (rather expensive) Lightning to USB 3 adaptor but that is actually more optimized for cameras and has limited ports. So, we would recommend going for something a little more versatile, which perhaps gives you access to a USB port, a card reader and perhaps even gives you the option to charge the iPad when you have attached it to the tablet (those ports can drain the battery, you know). And well, as this is something that can affect your equipment, this is something that we would recommend spending a bit more on.
A good option: Microware 4 in 1 Lightning to USB Camera Adapter, SD/TF Card Reader USB 3.0 OTG
5. Storage device: Drive or Card? Giga-byte us!
And that brings us to the one point that worries a lot of folks – the limited onboard storage on the base iPad model. At just 32 GB, with even lesser being available for actual usage, bytes are in short supply. Fortunately, with improved bandwidth and wi-fi availability, storing data on the cloud is no longer the challenge it used to be – Google Photos, Google Drive, and Apple’s own iCloud services let you store data online.
There are times, however, when you do need to save or transfer data fast and for this reason, a memory card or a flash drive can be handy. Which one you opt for depends on the sort of adaptor you have chosen in the previous point. You can even get a portable hard drive if you wish – there are even those that work over a Wi-Fi connection – but those tend to gobble a lot of battery and can be a little slow.
SanDisk has an iXpand range of flash drives that lets you connect it to both an iOS device and device with a USB port, but those tend to be expensive. Our recommendation would be to spend on a good adapter with plenty of options and then get an affordable but reliable SD card or flash storage option.
Our preference: Whatever works best with your adapter. We recommend a speedy 32 GB memory card! It should suffice for most needs.
So there you have it – the iPad on its own gives you a great display, decent sound, and extra battery life. A good case lets you prop it up as well as protect it. The keyboard and mouse give you great typing and point and clickability. An adapter lets you add enough ports. And SD card or flash drive lets you add gigs to your storage. And all of this put together would still keep your price below or around Rs 35,000, which is what you would shell out for a decent entry-level notebook, which an iPad can easily match or even better in many regards.
Go ahead, Notebook-ify your iPad!