Don’t for­get ac­ces­sories af­ter the fact

The Washington Times Daily - - Business -

It’s a funny thing about tech de­vices: Whether it’s a smart­phone, a tablet, or even a desk­top or note­book com­puter, leav­ing any of these truly “naked” isn’t a wise strat­egy. There are folks who do this: I saw one friend with a, well, “bare” ipad just the other morn­ing, but is it wise? Things fall, get banged into, or need some­thing more to make them work ef­fi­ciently.

I be­lieve all the above with so firm a con­vic­tion that when I picked up my “new ipad,” as Ap­ple Inc. calls it, my very first move, af­ter mak­ing sure it worked, was to have a pro­tec­tive plas­tic “skin” placed on the front and the back, some­thing I failed to do with the (2011 vin­tage) ipad 2. Re­sult: a vis­i­ble scratch on the back cover. There’s no hit on the per­for­mance, the front, dis­play screen, side, is flaw­less, but one scratch and I can no longer say (nor would I) that it’s in “like new” con­di­tion.

So, a word to the wise: Get that tablet cov­ered, fast. Area shop­ping malls will of­ten have a kiosk of­fer­ing ZAGG’S In­vis­i­ble Shield pro­tec­tion, ap­plied on site, and cost­ing around $60 (in­stalled). For those who want to take a truly “hands off” ap­proach, it’s not a bad deal, in my ex­pe­ri­ence.

Do-it-your­selfers can or­der Wrap­sol’s Ul­tra screen pro­tec­tor, and a “skin” for the back of an ipad, at prices rang­ing be­tween $34.95 and $39.95. The firm’s web­site, www.wrap­sol.com, fea­tures in­struc­tional videos on in­stal­la­tion and boasts scores of sat­is­fied cus­tomers.

I’d also get a case for a new ipad, per­haps one that would in­clude a Blue­tooth key­board (for typ­ing). I liked the $99 Rightshift from Solid Line Prod­ucts when I tested it last year, and I still do. A smaller-than-op­ti­mal, in my opin­ion, quote-mark-and-apostro­phe key, is a bit of a chal­lenge, but not in­sur­mount­able.

Just re­ceived, and quite im­pres­sive, is the Pro­fes­sional Work­sta­tion Port­fo­lio from iluv, list priced at $119.99. This key­board fea­tures a larger re­turn key and quote-mark-and-apostro­phe key than the Rightshift. Its Blue­tooth key­board is de­tach­able, too (held in place by Vel­cro straps). Us­ing it, I had a bit of trou­ble from hit­ting the Caps Lock key in­stead of the Shift key on the left side, but that should clear up with time.

The iluv case is a bit more stylish, I think, par­tic­u­larly the small easel in the back. It’s a very solid prod­uct, and I rec­om­mend it for the on-the-go ipad user.

Both key­boards are charged via a USB cable and should hold that charge for quite some time, as well as of­fer­ing good bat­tery life. Still, it’s wise to make sure ev­ery­thing is charged be­fore an im­por­tant work ses­sion.

And why, you might ask, would one want a sep­a­rate key­board when the ipad has an on­screen one? For one thing, the on­screen key­board is in two sec­tions: one for let­ters and a cou­ple of ba­sic punc­tu­a­tion marks, the other for num­bers and sym­bols. Con­fus­ing and a bit time-con­sum­ing, in my view. Sec­ond, not us­ing the on-screen key­board gives you more room in which to work.

What about desk­top com­puter users, or those who park their note­books in a dock­ing sta­tion?

Glad you asked: The Ma­tias Tac­tile Pro 3, $149.95, is made the way they used to make com­puter key­boards. Big, solid, re­spon­sive keys, a long cable so you can po­si­tion the key­board just about any­where you like, and a nice, big, sep­a­rate numeric key­pad. Oh, and there are three high-power USB ports also, to let you charge or sync things such as an iphone or MP3 player.

Though pri­mar­ily de­signed for Mac users, the key­board can also be used with a Win­dows PC. In use, you know you’re typ­ing on a real, hon­est-to-good­ness com­puter key­board. I like the feel, and I rec­om­mend this key­board for those who want some­thing more than the man­u­fac­turer-sup­plied item, but if your work en­vi­ron­ment is very quiet, the au­di­ble feed­back from typ­ing — some would call that “noise” — is no­tice­able. In­for­ma­tion: http://ma­tias.ca/ tac­tilepro3.

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