I remember a friend of mine getting very excited when buying his first iPad a couple of years ago. "I got it," he said, calling me on the phone as soon as he got it home. "But I'm having some problems getting my email set up." He lived a few miles away, so I suggested he just bring it over. And eager to show off his new purchase, he was at my door a few minutes after hanging up the phone.
When he pulled out his new iPad, my first thought was that he'd brought his laptop over to sync the iPad. This was back in the dark ages of iOS 3.2 when you had to plug your iPad into your computer to set it up. But then he popped it open and I realized he'd simply bought a keyboard case for his iPad.
I'd hooked up my Apple wireless keyboard to my iPad, so I knew the advantage of having a keyboard, but this was my first looks at a keyboard case. And my first thought was that I didn't like it. It's an iPad, after all, not a laptop. But I had to admit, it would be much easier to write in the car or on the train with a keyboard case than trying to balance both a wireless keyboard and the iPad on your knees while trying to get some work done.
The only problem: My friend wasn't planning to do much writing with his iPad other than some light email that might easily be accomplished with the on-screen keyboard. He'd simply fallen victim to a common side effect of buying a new gadget: the desire to accessorize.
When buying your first iPad, accessorize it with a case and skip the rest.
There are a lot of cool accessories out for the iPad. The ZAGGfolio can make your iPad look like a laptop, and Logitech's fold-up keyboard is a very unique keyboard case that won our reader's choice award for best iPad accessory of 2011. There's even an accessory that will turn your iPad into an old coin-operated arcade game and an accessory for hooking your guitar up to your iPad.
But unless you know exactly how you are going to use the iPad, it's best to hold off on the accessories until you've had a chance to play with it. The on-screen keyboard is actually much easier to use than the touchscreen of a smaller device like the iPhone, and the new iPad's voice dictation can make longer text as easy as talking. The Apple Digital AV Adapter, which lets you connect your iPad to your TV, might seem like a great purchase when picking out your iPad. But you might find that you simply don't watch as many movies as you expected. Or you might just fill the urge of sending your iPad's screen to the TV without the wires, which is something Apple TV can accomplish.
The best advice: stick to cases when buying your first iPad. And if you think you might want a keyboard case, bring the iPad home bare of accessories and see how you like the on-screen keyboard before committing to the keyboard case. After you have used it a few weeks, you'll have a better idea of how you use it, and you'll know how to accessorize it.