Back to School 2010 Buyer’s Guide for iPad Lovers

The iPad should be number one on every college student’s wish list. It’s pretty light weight and easy to carry, and with the diverse selection of apps available, you can really get more out of it than carrying your laptop to class. Our last feature in the 2010 Back to School Buyer’s Guide series is a look at some great accessories for the iPad.

Apple Keyboard with Dock

$69, Apple Store

Touch screens are great, but extended periods of typing on them can be problematic. The Apple Keyboard and Dock is a great solution to help display your iPad while you type notes. If you have a different stand preference, you can buy the Apple Wireless Keyboard separately (for the same price) and use it with your iPad or any other Bluetooth-enabled Mac.

Camera Connection Kit

$29, Apple Store

These two adapters will allow you to plug your SD card or USB camera directly into your iPad and download the contents without needing to sync to your computer. If your camera shoots video, those will get downloaded too.


$9.99 per app, iTunes

If you’ve used iWork on the Mac, the iPad version is a great supplement. Though there are some caveats, you can create your work in the Mac version (or right on the iPad) and take it on the go. The iWork suite includes Keynote (presentations), Pages (word processing) and Numbers (spreadsheets).

Dock to VGA Connector

$19, Apple Store

If you are building your presentations in Keynote, show them off in style by connecting your iPad to a projector with the Dock to VGA Connector cable. When you connect with this cable, your iPad acts as a “presenter view” for Keynote and tapping and holding on your iPad will simulate the effect of a laser pointer. Now you won’t blind Bernice when she picks the wrong moment to look towards you and your laser pointer.

Pogo Stylus

$14.95, Ten One Design

Sometimes it’s just better to be able to write or sketch naturally on the iPad. There are a variety of styli available for the iPad. Generally the ones that are a few bucks and come in a pack of three are best avoided. The Pogo is one of the more popular options and you can usually find an Apple Store employee who has one they can demo.


$2.99, iTunes

This is one of the most popular apps for making sketches and taking notes by hand. The app organizes your content into books and supports writing in multiple colors, stroke sizes and a variety of page styles. Plus, built-in sharing options makes it easy to share your work with colleagues and classmates.


$4.99, iTunes

Similar to Penultimate, this app allows for sketching but also supports typing with the built-in keyboard or an external Bluetooth one. This app goes even further by recording audio which is great if you happen to fall asleep during a lecture.


Coming Soon, Blue Microphones

Remember how there’s no real “up” for your iPad? Flip your iPad around and plug in an external mic like this one to add clarity when you record lectures. The iPad has a built-in mic at the top already, but an external one can make a lot of difference.

iStudiez Pro

$2.99, iTunes

This app, mentioned in our iPod/iPhone article, is great for students to keep track of assignments, grades and upcoming deadlines with its support for push notifications.

Dropbox and iDisk

Free, iTunes

Consider an app like Dropbox or iDisk if you have MobileMe as a way to move your files on the go. The latest updates support opening in native apps, so if you keep your Pages docs in your Dropbox, you can open them natively in Pages on your iPad. Dropbox and MobileMe are subscription services, though Dropbox offers a free 2GB account.

Be sure and check out the other articles in this series, including Part 1 where we look at great gifts that benefit all Apple users, Part 2 where we discuss Mac products and Part 3 where we look at accessories for iPod and iPhone users.

If you’ve found other great accessories for the iPad, or have an opinion to share on any of these, let us know in the comments!