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Getting serious iPad accessory envy

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Look at this great adjustable stand! Oh wait, it's a foot rest.

In addition to buying a Bumper while bumming around the Apple Store yesterday, I spent a good chunk of my time there drooling over iPad accessories. No, not the iPad itself, which were looking lonely on the floor next to the new hotness, the iPhone 4. Rather, after spending years with a slate Tablet PC, rejoicing over any accessory discovery, I’m envious that the iPad has more third-party support in half a year than the Tablet PC ever had.

My Electrovaya Scribbler didn’t hit the market with the same accessory support as other slate Tablet PCs. It wasn’t designed for a dock and was pretty much as plain a slate as possible. As a result, I maintained constant vigilance in spotting useful cases, stands, and docking stations. To this day, even though I’m now using a big convertible, stands for dishes and books still catch my eye as potential tablet stands. With my Toshiba, I’m pretty much stuck with either the dock-enabled port replicator or a USB dock solution, and even those are intended for notebook functionality. Real Tablet PC accessories are few and far between. Oh, but for the iPad, there are already several different stands, a ton of cases and screen protectors, and power options galore.

The real kick in the pants is that it wasn’t always this bad. Once upon a time, Cross made a Wacom Penabled pen for Tablet PCs. The HP Compaq TC1x00 series could swap between a swiveling keyboard and a desktop dock. There were arguments over which screen protector was the best. PC card and ExpressPort accessories were our best friends because they didn’t stick out like big USB dongles. While specialty vendors, like Motion Computing, are still keeping the faith with fantastic accessory options for their own lines, and we still have access to the breadth of notebook accessories out there, third-party support and the validation it implies has dried up. All the would-be iPad competitors out there should take heed. Line up accessory support or risk looking less customizable than the iPad. It may look one-size-fits-all, but that accessory support coupled with a giant library of apps allows users to easily expand it how they want and make it their own.

Alleged Apple fanboi, accused Android apologist, and confirmed Microsoft MVP for touch and tablet Mark Sumimoto a.k.a. Sumocat dabbles in all areas of mobile computing with a focus on Windows-based Tablet PCs and pen input. A mobile computing enthusiast since 2004, he pioneered the field of ink blogging via his personal blog, Sumocat's Scribbles. His current tools include a Fujitsu Lifebook T900, TEGA v2, and iPhone 4. Email: sumocat [at] notebooks.com

4 Comments

  1. Pat

    07/12/2010 at 2:25 am

    I agree that there are tons of cases already for the iPad and it’s really hard to select one. :)

  2. Ben

    07/12/2010 at 1:15 pm

    My favorite stand for the ipad is very simple and made out of legos. It is utterly adjustable, lighter weight than any stand I’ve seen, quickly and easily disassembles into a very portable 3/4″x2″x6″ rectangle, cost next to nothing (random legos are pretty cheap at a summer yeard sale), and is SO retro-hip! With a few legos and some creativity, you can make a stand/docking station that is compatable with most any tablet! As for a case, well, not sure legos will solve that problem…

  3. Dennisvjames

    07/13/2010 at 6:36 am

    I have iPad envy too. But I think I’ll wait for 2.0. Jobs said that if you had to use a stylus you were doing it wrong. However, by the number of blog posts I see, that’s one of the tops things people want to do with an iPad. That’s everyone from students to business people. Seems that people want to do more than play games and choose their next Netflix movie on them. Maybe once he gets the iPhone 4 fixed he might try listening to his customers (and potential customers) and give us a notetaking iPad.

  4. ipad accessories

    10/18/2010 at 10:40 pm

    It’s nice to see some of the lesser-known iPad accessories covered here. With all these awesome accessories, getting the iPad is really only half the fun. The device is so innovative it hurts. It’s just a sign that Apple aims to create elegant products, of which the iPad is an excellent example. Elegance is a difficult concept to define, and it’s almost impossible to produce unless you understand it on a deep, intuitive level. Jobs gets it. Very few other people in the technology industry get it.

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