Jim Hillibish, The Repository, ReviewAtlas.com

By Jim Hillibish
Posted Mar 01, 2013 @ 03:39 PM
 

It didn’t take long. The computer-accessories industry smelled a hit in tablet systems and began rolling out ancillary gear ASAP.

The neatest I’ve seen so far is the wireless external hard drive. These are little boxes containing massive hard drives connected to your tablet or laptop over Wi-Fi or broadband wireless.

They usually run about $100 more than USB-wired externals, but what a convenience not to carry a cable. Amazon.com has a Seagate Free Agent three-terabyte unit for only $150, free shipping. Refurbished models are available at $116. A wireless model for the iPad is $190 for 500 gigabytes. Compare at $145 for a similar drive without wireless.

A case that doubles as a real keyboard makes sense, especially if you do a lot of text work. Not long ago, they were expensive, costing in the hundreds. Now they are affordable. The Kensington iPad Key Folio lists at $100 but sells at $48 online. It has a tactile-touch keyboard in a polyurethane cover that props up the tablet. It folds flat in case mode. Other models are available for non-Apple gear.

A child carrying a tablet is a disaster about to happen. Buying an armored case takes away the worry, somewhat. These are jackets usually of polyurethane with reinforced, shock-absorbing corners. Make sure your choice does not cover important tab plugs such as the recharger and headphone adapter. Armored cases are perfect for tabs that go to work in hostile conditions such as construction sites and battlefields.

Otter Box’s Defender series offers multi-layer toughened models for most tabs at around $55 online, $70 full price. They are perfect for small children and traveling. Gum Drop is another popular maker. Many of these now come with a built-in screen protector.

Tired of lugging your tablet by hand? Get a case with a handle. Truedealsco offers a foam case with a handle that turns into a stand for $20.99. It’s labeled for children but should protect clumsy adults, too.

Hard Cube sells a shoulder- and hand-strap adapter for iPads including a zippered case at $40. It’s a best buy on Amazon, free shipping.

One of the handiest accessories is also one of the cheapest. A dual-mini headphone jack enables two listeners at once, but there’s more. You can connect two speakers to your tab for true stereo sound. They work with laptops too and cost less than $5 online, including the Belkin with a lifetime warranty at only $2.49.

Can’t make up your mind? Try an accessory bundle. These usually include a stand-up case, headphones, USB cables, car charger, stylus, cleaning cloth and screen protector. Prices range from $25 to $45 depending on tablet model.