After purchasing an iPad, the last thing I wanted to do was to spend MORE money on add-ons and accessories. I figured I could do without the bells and whistles, and only purchase what I absolutely needed.

Well, it turned out that I “absolutely needed” an iPad case! Just as you wouldn't carry your laptop on a business trip without some sort of carrying case to keep it safe and portable, you don't want to be running around with a $800 piece of equipment loose and susceptible to bangs, scratches, drops, and other hazards. Here's why you need a case for your iPad:
Protection from scratches
Even if you keep really, really good care of your car, parking it in the corner of the lot, putting it in the garage at night, and waxing it once a month, it's still going to show wear and tear over time. Here's the scrape where the neighbor kid ran into you on his skateboard. Here's where a runaway shopping cart slammed into your door. And here's where your daughter decided black marker would be a great addition to your white paint job.
Face it; accidents happen, and unless you want to keep your iPad wrapped in tissue paper and locked in your office, you're going to expose it to some less than savory circumstances. That's why you want to invest in a sturdy case to protect it from the computing equivalents of your sedan.
Easy Portability
Let's say you skip the case. So where are you going to store your wireless keyboard, your power cord, and your notebook? Even a simple neoprene sleeve will allow you to keep everything together, and some portfolio-style cases come with keyboards built right in. And if you're storing your iPad in a larger tote bag or briefcase, the case or cover will make it easier to store and locate.
Easy Use
I use my iPad with a wireless keyboard, and I love having the case that flips open to create a stand. I can plop down my keyboard, flip open my iPad, and I've got a versatile, light mobile computing workplace. The same would be true if I wanted to watch a movie or read an e-book; the case allows me to use my iPad the way I want to.
Now that you know why you need an iPad case, let's look at the types available:
  •  Hard and soft shells

Shell cases are typically made of plastic, rubber, or metal, and act as a sheath around your iPad. They leave the screen exposed, so you'll want to make sure you apply a screen protector in addition to your shell. The main difference is that the hard shells are hard and slick, and the soft shells are rubbery and provide a bit more “grip.” They come in a huge variety of colors and styles, some with logos and cartoon characters. Which you choose is a matter of how you plan to use it, and personal preference.

  • Portfolio

Portfolio cases flip open to reveal your iPad. They are popular because they offer an added layer of protection for your screen. People also like portfolios that allow you to set them up as a landscape or portrait easel, so you view the screen in your selected orientation. Portfolios are typically made of real or imitation leather, and range widely in price.

  • All-in-one

An all-in-one case is great if you are using your iPad for a lot of word processing or email, as I do. The wireless keyboard is already integrated in the case, so it's one less thing to keep track of. These are also typically made from leather, but new styles are emerging all the time.

  • Sleeves

Sleeves are simply carrying cases that keep your iPad safe while in transit. Usually made of a neoprene or slightly cushiony material, the cases typically zip shut and provide safe transport on their own, or tucked inside a larger bag.

Whether you're an on-the-go word processing Knicks fan, or a video-watching Paul Frank lover, you'll find a case to fit your taste and needs. The choices are limitless, so you are almost guaranteed to find a case that won't cramp your personal style.


As the iPad has become an integral part of our computing world, the number of accessories seems to explode daily. From extra-long-life battery packs to carrying cases, you can bling out, power up, connect and protect. But before you jump overboard, here's an overview of what's available, and what you need NOW:
Screen Protection
Your iPad is an investment, so it makes sense to protect it. For protection, at a minimum you'll want a screen protector. These nearly invisible self-adhesive, clear plastic sheets cling to your iPad screen, protecting it from scratches without disturbing your view. At a cost as low as $4, there's no reason to skip this critical protection level. Keeping your iPad in pristine condition is also important in case you ever want to resell it.
Case Protection
If you've got your screen covered, you may be wondering why you need a case protector. Well, just as you wouldn't want dents or dings on the body of your car, you don't want your gorgeous iPad scratched up, either! And with the huge selection of cases, you can choose a portfolio, an easel-style, one that includes a keyboard, and dozens of choices in different colors and materials. Prices range from $15 to $100 or more. Even if you don't want to keep your iPad in a fancy holder, you still may want to buy a simple neoprene carrying sleeve to keep it safe as you're toting it around.
Power Support
The iPad has a great battery life, but if you plan on using it as your main mobile computing device, you might want to beef up your power supply by adding a car charger, which is available for as little as $4, or an external battery, which can range from $40 and up.
Special Interest Add-Ons
Photography fiends, grab a camera adapter and cable kit so you can download images from your digital camera to your iPad. Music lovers, you might want to scoop up an external speaker, or a set of earphones, as the iPad doesn't come with them. Don't forget about a wireless keyboard so you can crank out your next best-seller on the road! Whatever your interest, there's probably an accessory to match.
As the iPad continues to make its way into the mainstream, more and more accessories will become available. Keep checking out the latest and greatest, and you'll soon find they've made one just for you.


Convinced you need an iPad to make your life complete? You're not the only one! The latest estimates say that there are some 7.5 million iPads already being put to use by rabid consumers world-wide, and those numbers are bound to rise even further with each holiday season.
So if you want an iPad, what's the next step? Here's what you need to do:
Decide if you want to buy from Apple or from a reseller
I always recommend buying from Apple, because of the added confidence you'll have in being able to get repairs or a refund if something were to go wrong. Also, if you purchase an Apple product elsewhere than the Apple Store, they will not replace it if there's a problem. The lower price isn't worth the hassle; go with Apple.
Decide if you want to buy online or from an Apple Store
With over 300 stores world-wide, there's a good chance there's an Apple Store near you. But if you don't want to deal with parking, lines, and “the mall” (where most Apple Stores are located), you can buy your iPad online with free shipping. Just go to their website or copy and paste this link in your browser to see your choices:
Choose a 3G or a Wi-Fi model
There have been problems with the Wi-Fi model; ours barely picks up the household signal, even when my iPhone and laptop are picking up a strong wireless signal. If you plan on using it outside your home at all, I recommend going with the 3G; the monthly data plan is very reasonable, and the ease of being able to pick up a signal anywhere is a huge convenience.
Choose your size
$200 for four times the storage space seems like a no-brainer to me, but I'm one who firmly believes that bigger is better, at least when it comes to hard drives! However, if you don't plan on using your iPad to store videos or audios, you may find the smaller sizes perfectly adequate. Remember though; just as with closets and garages, if you have the space, you'll use it. And the more space you have, the more you'll use your iPad.
Pull the trigger!
That's it. The only other question you may have is what accessories you'll want, and if you want to engrave a pithy saying on the backside of your iPad (think of it as an electronic tattoo). The process is painless, as it should be. And setting up your new baby will take even less time than buying it did. Happy computing!


When the iPad was first released, netbook makers such as HP and Dell held their breath; would the iPad signal the beginning of the end for the netbook market? While they've definitely taken a hit, don't expect to see the complete extinction of netbooks quite yet. These sub-notebook computers are inexpensive and small and have found a market; but can they compete with the iPad? Here's how things stack up:
The entry-level iPad starts at $499, for wi-fi only with 16 GB of storage, and goes up to $829 for a 64 GB 3G version. Netbooks are significantly less expensive, starting at just a few hundred dollars for 150 GB of hard drive space.
The average netbook weighs about 2.5 to 3 pounds, while the iPad tips the scales at a whopping 1.5 pounds. It might not sound like much, but if you're a woman who wants to carry her mobile computing equipment with her, it makes a big difference when it's hanging from your shoulder.
The challenge I had with my HP Mini was processing speed; it was extremely slow. I had no problem sacrificing it at the altar of all things Apple and bringing home a lightning-quick 3G iPad.
The netbook can be limited to what software comes pre-installed, or that you purchase separately. And the iPad… well, you've heard the saying; “There's an app for that!” With most apps costing under $5, you can do pretty much whatever you want, from fashion design to rocket design, with your iPad, for cheap.
Cool Factor
Whether you purchase an iPad or a netbook may come down to the simple question of how cool you want to feel. Younger people, particularly kids, immediately see the possibilities of the iPad and know intuitively how to interact with it. Older folks have a bit harder time learning the ropes; they may prefer the tried-and-true mouse/trackpad/keyboard interface of the netbook, to the all-in-one aspect of the iPad.
But let's face it; at price points pretty low and getting lower, you may just want to have one of each. See which you use more, and sell the other one on eBay – or give it to your kid.