Today Tom Mighell wraps up his three-part series on The iPad for Lawyers. By now, you should have a good idea how you can use an iPad in your practice. Previous posts discussed how the iPad helps lawyers with things they do every day and some of the best apps for those activities. Today, it’s all about the bling—add-ons that can help turn your iPad into a traveling office.
In this final installment of my series on iPads for lawyers, I consider the last essential element of an iPad owner’s toolkit—the accessories. For me, there are three necessary pieces of gear for the iPad: an input device, a cover and a stand. Here are some of the accessories I have found to be useful.
Input Device: Stylus or Keyboard?
Sure, you can use the iPad’s virtual keyboard to type e-mails or documents, but after a while that gets pretty tiresome. If you’re going to do heavy-duty text entry, you’re going to need to purchase a peripheral accessory. Your only decision—handwriting or typing?
If you write clearly and you like to take handwritten notes, then maybe a stylus will work for you. Styluses made for the iPad have a slightly different tip, because it has to mimic the feel of a finger. Go ahead, try to write on an iPad screen with a pointy, hard object. You can’t. That’s because the touch capacitive screen only reacts to a certain type of material. Two of the best styluses I have used are the Pogo Sketch ($9) or the Boxwave Capacitive ($15) models. Both do a good job when you need to get some writing done.
If you’re like me and your handwriting is atrocious, then opt for the wireless keyboard. Apple’s Wireless Keyboard ($69) is a great choice. It’s small, light and it easily pairs with the iPad’s Bluetooth connection. If you want something a little more substantial, the ZAGGmate ($100) is a cover that comes with a built-in keyboard, and it is a great all-in-one device.
With the iPad2 being so new, covers are just starting to hit the market. Check out iLounge’s Accessory Review site, where you’ll find reviews for lots of great covers. I’m currently using Apple’s Smart Cover ($39-$69), which is a very cool concept; it uses magnets to magically adhere to the iPad, and the cover will automatically wake up and put your iPad to sleep when you open and close it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide any protection for the back of the device, which I think is essential. Look for a cover that will protect the back from scratches, and the screen from getting scratched or broken.
Although the new lighter iPad2 is a joy to hold, sometimes you need something to hold it, maybe when you’re using it as a picture frame or when you’re just tired of holding it yourself. As with covers, there are some great stands out there. Check out the reviews at iPad Accessories for information on a lot of the great stands. My favorite is the TwelveSouth Compass Mobile Stand ($39). You can use it upright like an easel, or in a slightly more reclined state for when you want to work. It’s lightweight and easy to store in a bag. You have to be careful in airport security, though. Your Compass Stand will look a little like a sharp object, so it’s best to put the stand in a security bin along with your computer.
Tom Mighell is the author of The iPad in One Hour for Lawyers and the related blog iPad4Lawyers. A Senior Consultant with Contoural, Inc., he helps companies and in-house counsel with records management and electronic discovery issues. Tom blogs at Inter Alia and is co-presenter of The Kennedy-Mighell Report Podcast.
- The iPad in One Hour for Lawyers by Tom Mighell (2011, ABA Law Practice Management Section).
- ABA TECHSHOW 2011, April 11-13, Chicago Hilton. If you can’t be there, follow the Twitter stream at #abatechshow.
- Tablet Users Face Off: iPad versus Slate Shootout by Tom Mighell and Nerino J. Petro, Jr. Law Practice, March/April 2011.