The iPad is a beautiful work of industrial design, but it needs accessories for me to get stuff done with it. I can’t say that I have experimented extensively with all of the available options. And, of course, choosing the right gear for your workflow often comes down to personal preference. I do know what I like, though, and maybe the combinations below will provide you with some ideas for your own gear.
My Use Case
Now that we have amazing equipment like the iPad available, we can finally start thinking of the world as our office instead of shutting ourselves into cramped little rooms year after year. Don’t get me wrong–I like my office. However, I seem to work better (and enjoy it more) when I can move around as well.
My priority is having the ability to work anywhere for long periods of time. As a researcher and teacher, I need to be able to do a few things well; namely: read (PDFs), write (typing and handwriting), search (the contents of my notes and files), and annotate (student papers, essays, and so forth in PDF form). In terms of gear, this means I need a bag, a stylus, a keyboard, protection for the hardware, and a stand of some kind for the iPad.
My Old Gear
The screenshot at the top of this post shows most of my old gear in action. It’s all great stuff, and highly recommended, but I have changed a few things in recent months in order to take advantage of new products and adjust things to better fit my workflow.
1. Waterfield VertiGo (Small)
This is one of the best bags that I have ever owned. Waterfield knows how to make high-quality stuff, and the free-floating shoulder pad makes a world of difference with this bag — everything is accessible any time and you can easily shift from slinging it over your back while riding your bike to hanging it in front of you on a crowded subway. Brilliant.
My Current Gear
In recent months I have made a few changes in my gear. The screenshot below shows my work environment this morning at one of my favorite coffee shops in the Princeton area, Grover’s Mill, where I’ve written tens of thousands of words. Here is what is different these days: the stylus, keyboard case (not shown), and stand for the iPad.
In order to get a little more enjoyment out of handwriting on the iPad, I upgraded to the Jot Scipt stylus. There is nothing wrong with the Pogo Sketch Pro, and it is certainly the best out of the rubber-tipped styluses I have used, but I’ve had to do a lot more writing this semester, and I wanted to try something that was closer to pen and paper.
I also wanted a little more protection for the iPad. The Belkin case is stiff and does not protect the face of the iPad, while the Kensignton case is less rigid and has a slightly raised lip around the edge of the iPad to keep the screen from touching other flat surfaces (a computer in a bag, a table, etc.). It isn’t a huge concern of mine, and I could happily use either one, but I had to buy a new case anyhow for the iPad Air, so I took the opportunity to try something new.
Finally, I wanted a little more flexibility for my work. Although I enjoy the Incase Origami Workstation, it is clumsy for reading, because you always need to have the keyboard and case out with the iPad (assuming you are like me and are too lazy to hold your iPad). The velcro that holds the flaps together for standing up the iPad also weakens after about a year of use, and this causes the flaps to open, which drops the iPad backwards onto the table (on occasion, dangerously close to dropping all the way off the table when it happens to be positioned near an edge). When it came time to replace it, I decided to switch it out for the Waterfield Keyboard Slip and the collabsible BookGem book stand.