CES: Tablets, Tablets Everywhere
The future is clear. It will be a world of tablets. Tablets in the kitchen, the hall. Tablets in the kid's room, the bathroom, the car, you name it.
And to keep them safe, ergonomic and efficient there are literally over 50,000 companies that are making accessories to facilitate the tablet revolution. The vast, vast majority were for iPads, suggesting to me that Samsung, Intel and other tablet makers stand little chance of surpassing Apple's dominance. If you can not buy accessories you cannot sell the widget. Avalon's third law of commerce.
I went to each and every (g-d dammed) accessory booth and I have boiled it down to the best of." It's a pretty short list. Bottom line, you need only three things in the Dan Quayle future. You need to keep your iPad:
1) Upright and secure for typing. (A solid stand.)
2) Safe from dings and drops. (A decent and manageable case.)
3) Charged when on the go. (An external battery.)
Anything else, like the bluetooth alarm clock attachment, or the water proof bag, is decadent and dumb. One exception might be a stylus to tap or write when in cold weather when you have to wear gloves, or draw with more precision than your finger can allow like in a sales presentation or Photoshop stuff.
And here's the catch, you need to make products that solve all these problems without turning the iPad into a clunky, wannabe laptop. Most products I saw failed this test, which surprised me. Don't these peripheral companies get it; iPad is thin and sexy. That's why we like it. If we wanted substance over form, we'd buy a netbook for half the price with twice the processing power. Duh!
So, with simplicity and sexiness as my two tent-pole design elements, and keeping in mind the basic needs above, we can eliminate 49,998 of the 50,000 companies. Two brands have it all and they do it better than anyone else in the North Hall.
Best iPad case/stand: Macally. It's a skin, no it's a stand, no it's a case. It's all three and it's the only one that will efficiently rotate for proper landscape and portrait viewing and also tilt at enough different angles to accommodate all forms of typing and viewing. And here's another cool thing: it can be peeled off the iPad in seconds with no fuss. (Users, you know what I'm talking about.) Its official; name The Shell Stand" $49.
Best stylus: Again Macally. Called The Pen Pal." The only one that glides over the touch screen like a greased paint brush, allowing truly detailed art work and white-board-like drawing. 2 for $29.99.
Best battery/stand: HyperMac Stand is a stand and charger combination. There are many similar products but I like this one because it's universal. Meaning that when Apple changes something in the iPad II and moves a port a quarter of an inch, it will not render the accessory useless.
Obsolescence is the enemy of most every item I saw in the North Hall. One change from GodI mean, Appleand their entire inventory is trash. But the HyperMac Stand works even if Steve moves every port on the device. It will give your iPad eight extra hours of power. The grooves in the stand accommodate most every position, while allowing you to keep your favorite decorative skin. It's portable, lays pretty flat, travels well, and has no moving parts. Oh, it will charge just about any other mobile thingy also. $140. Worth it if you're a serious traveling iPadophile.
That's all for now. If you like my reviews of these products and you buy them, tell the manufacturer where you heard about it. Maybe I'll get a free one.