The iPad is a terrific tool, but it is also fragile and somewhat limited on its own. For the past few months, I've been seeking out the most useful accessories that can help to maximize the iPad's mobility and minimize its vulnerability. Here are my personal favorites:
The perfect iPad case would protect it all around, give easy access to its ports and buttons, provide a full range of built-in stands for typing and viewing, and look as elegant as the iPad itself. That case does not yet exist. Here are the cases that come the closest so far:
Quirky Cloak - $54.95. A grippy silicon case with a front cover and built-in stands for both portrait and landscape views. The initial design of this case called for the hinge to lock in different viewing angle positions, which would have been wonderful -- didn't happen. Also, the two built-in stands are flimsy plastic -- my landscape stand busted right off after a few weeks. Still, this may be my favorite case for functionality, and I give Quirky big points for at least trying to do it all.
Incase Convertible Book Jacket - $59.95. A thick, leatherish case that seriously protects the iPad from bumps or falls, and tries to provide different landscape viewing angles. The problem is that the most useful angle doesn't work -- it keeps slipping out of the groove intended to hold it in place. No portrait view stand.
ModulR - $99 for starter kit (more for complete system). Very inventive modular system that protects the back and sides of the iPad, offers a removable cover, and, most interestingly, offers slide-to-fit stands and mounts for desk viewing/typing, wall viewing, underneath kitchen cabinets, and car seat viewing. For people constantly shifting between two or more of these locations, this is close to ideal.
Griffin Elan Passport - $49.99. Simple and somewhat clumsy faux-leather case whose elastic straps actually get in the way of the screen rotation lock button. Still, this case is very simple, lightweight and the most attractive faux-leather case around.
DodoCase - $59.95. The clear winner for aesthetics. This simple bamboo and faux-leather case resembles the classic Moleskine notebooks. The case folds to allow for a slight typing tilt in landscape mode. No portrait stand option. But it works nicely with the Compass stand (below). Bottom line: This is the only case you can imagine Steve Jobs using.
Since there is no perfect case/stand combo, external stands are necessary. I've seen them all, and used some, and am sorry to say only two stick out as worthwhile:
Compass - $39.99. Utterly brilliant. A compact aluminum stand that can go anywhere, is practically weightless, and can handle portrait, landscape, and typing. Aside from the Dodocase, this is the only iPad accessory as elegant as the iPad itself.
GroovyStands - $9.95 to $14.95. Simple, affordable wooden stands that accommodate the iPad in different angles and orientations, with or without a case. Choose your specific GroovyStand carefully.
Incase Combo Charger - $39.95. Terrifically convenient to have car and wall charging in one unit.
Macally Dual Port Wall Charger - $29.99. Charges iPad and iPhone simultaneously.
Macally Dual Port USB Car Charger - $29.99 - Charges iPad and iPhone simultaneously in the car.
Scosche Revive II Dual USB Home Charger - $29.99. Charges iPad and iPhone simultaneously.
Scosche Revive II Dual USB Car Charger for iPad - $24.99 -- Charges iPad and iPhone simultaneously in the car.
Scosche flipSync USB Charge & Sync Cable - As compact as it gets, and will (slowly) charge the iPad from a USB port in a pinch.
WaterGuard Plus - $23.99. Sounds silly, but the perfect thing for reading on the beach or in the tub.
LogMeIn Ignition - $29.99. Inevitably, you'll be using the iPad somewhere and realize you need a file from your home computer. This app allows you to gain secure and easy access to your entire home machine. Very impressive.
I'll keep my eye out for worthy additions to this list.