Must-haves for the holidays: iPad accessories and the best gadgets for android tablets

Credit: Roland zh, an Apple Store in Switzerland

Credit: Roland zh, an Apple Store in Switzerland

Putting together your list of must have items for this holiday season? You may want to start thinking of how to enhance your android tablets – or consider cool iPad accessories to make your device even more useful (and fun). What are the best gadgets for tablets in 2013? Check out this list of suggestions below!

Make a case for a case

One of the first items any mobile device – especially a higher end tablet – needs is a case to protect it from weather, scratches, and coffee spills. (Because you know you drink your coffee too close to your tablet. Who doesn’t?) Do you prefer hard or soft? Just a cover or something more utilitarian?

Jennifer Johnson of Hot Hardware reviewed a bunch of gadget options for tablets in July, 2013, ahead of the holiday curve. In “Hot must have accessories and gadgets for tablets,” she recommended a few different options for cases:

  • The Kensington KeyCover Hard Shell iPad Keyboard is both a cover and keyboard for your iPad. The iPad (2, 3rd gen, or 4th gen) snaps into the case without having its ports or volume control blocked. Want to use that keyboard? Snap the iPad out of the case and prop it up on the stand, which can hold the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode. It runs $79.99, but you can pick it up for $27 on Amazon.
  • The Kensington KeyFolio Expert Folio & Keyboard is great for tablet swapping – it works with Android, Windows, and iOS. The case is designed for 10-in. tablets, but there’s no reason a 7 in. wouldn’t fit (with a little room). The multi-suction grip feature should keep even a 7 in. tablet from sliding around when it’s closed. The sticker price is around $100, but Amazon again offers a lower price of about $64.
  • Just looking for a case and no keyboard? Poetic Revolution has many options for cases featuring a kickstand in the back – like a photo frame – that you can adjust to set the angle of your device. Cases run between $10 and $40 at Amazon, depending on the size of your device.

David Eitelbach, writing for Laptop, also recommended a pair of cases in “Best tablet accessories 2013.” For Eitelbach, the rooCASE was his top pick for a 7 in. tablet:  it’s affordable (at $10 on Amazon), features synthetic leather texture and has a magnetic front with an auto wake/sleep function. The landscape mode prop was another plus. For a keyboard option, Eitelback preferred the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for Galaxy Tab 3, which runs $99, but has a full-size Bluetooth keyboard – and is water (and coffee) repellant.

Already upgraded to an iPad Air? Jamie Lendino of PC Mag suggested, in “Cool Apple iPad Air accessories,” that you go with the Apple iPad Smart Case, which markets for $79 but runs around $30 on Amazon. It’s ultra thin, but provides great protection for your device, functions as a stand, and has that auto wake-up feature.

Okay, but what about the cool stuff?

The case is a pretty basic accessory – so what about something more exciting?

How about Apple TV or Chromecast? Apple TV is a set top box that lets you broadcast whatever’s on your iPad to the big screen – or lets you use your iPad as a remote for streaming options like Netflix and Hulu (or anything you buy or rent from the Apple store). Chromecast does a similar thing for a variety of devices, including Android and iOS tablets and smartphones, and it plugs right into your HDTV. You can use it to watch whatever you’ve purchased on Google Play, as well as whatever you’re doing on your device. Apple TV runs about $100; Chromecast’s sticker price is $35.

Just want to watch on the small screen – but you want that big screen sound? Check out the Bose Sound SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker; Lendino was blown away by “its excellent audio fidelity, loud volume and sleek design.” It runs about $200. For a cheaper option, Johnson recommended the Kinivo ZX100 Mini Portable Speaker, which goes for $20 and connects with a 3.5mm headset jack for surprisingly good sound quality.

Need your device to act more like a remote? Check out the Logitech Harmony Smart Control, which can convert your tablet into a remote compatible with 225,000 devices – and can control them even if they’re behind a cabinet door. It runs $120.

But what about something more practical for your studies – say, something that lets you access data on a flash drive or an SD card right on your tablet? Kensington MobileLite Wireless has just what you need: it’s a wireless flash reader that connects to your WiFi network and lets you stream data from up to three devices at a time – and can also function as an emergency charger – for less than $50 on Amazon.

What gadgets do you think are must haves for the holidays? Tell us in the comments.

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