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5 Accessories to Turn Your Tablet into a Business Machine

Brett Nuckles
Brett Nuckles

Tablets can be a lot of fun – and with the right accessories, they can become stellar business machines.

Most business users opt for a tablet because they're portable, affordable and easy to use. But alone, a touch-screen slate lacks much of the functionality that made desktop PCs the standard for business.

Not to worry. Tablet accessories let you have the best of both worlds so you can transition seamlessly from your couch to your work desk and beyond.

Here are the top accessories you can buy to transform your iPad, Android or Windows tablet into the perfect productivity device.

1. Keyboard

Available for: Android tablets, Windows 8 tablets, iPads

Touch keyboards are more responsive than ever, but if you have real work to do you'll need to pair your tablet with a full QWERTY keyboard.

Android: Android keyboard options vary depending on which model you buy. Some tablets, including the Asus Transformer line, feature a built-in 40-pin connector to attach a keyboard directly. But for most models you'll have to rely on Bluetooth to connect your keyboard. Pair it with a clamshell case to keep your tablet and keyboard connected.

Windows 8: It's hard to go wrong with the keyboard options available for Windows 8 tablets. Microsoft's own Surface line supports the elegant Type Cover, a full keyboard that doubles as a screen protector and connects directly without the need for Bluetooth. Similar options are available for  Windows 8 tablets from Dell, Asus and other manufacturers.

iPad: There are plenty of available for both the iPad and iPad mini. You can even link it to Apple's full-size wireless keyboards for Macs. Add a clamshell keyboard case to keep your iPad and keyboard together.

2. USB/Bluetooth Mouse

Available for: Android tablets, Windows 8 tablets

Touch screens are great, until you want total control over your work. When you sit down with your tablet at a desk, you might appreciate the precision pointing that an external mouse can bring to the traditional tablet experience.

Android: The Android operating system has featured external mouse support since Android 3.1 debuted in 2011. If your tablet doesn’t have a full-size USB port, you have two options: Either purchase a micro USB adapter, or link up a Bluetooth mouse.

Windows 8: Mouse lovers will be right at home on a Windows 8 tablet. Since the operating system was designed for both tablet and desktop use, mouse support is fully integrated. Most Windows 8 tablets sport at least one full-size USB port, so plug in any mouse and get pointing. Bluetooth mice are also supported.

iPad: If you're an iPad devotee, forget about it. Mouse support is simply not included.

3. Docking station

Available for: Windows 8 tablets

A docking station is the ultimate productivity solution for business users, offering a convenient way to link a mouse, keyboard, external monitor, external hard drive and other accessories to your tablet. Docks are often paired with laptops, but tablet options are limited.

Android: There is no integrated docking solution for Android tablets. The closest you'll come is the keyboard add-on for the Asus Transformer line, which can be linked directly with a mouse and keyboard; the keyboard also functions as an external power source. And if your Android tablet supports HML output, you can link it to an external monitor via an HDMI cable.

Windows 8:The Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets are fully compatible with Microsoft's docking station, sold separately for $200. Users can simply snap their Surface tablet into the dock to take advantage of external peripherals, like a full keyboard, mouse and monitor. A similar dock is available for the Dell Venue line of Windows 8 tablets.

iPad: No real docking solutions exist for the iPad. You can link your iPad to an external monitor with the help of a 30-pin connector, however.

4. Stylus

Available for: Android tablets, Windows 8 tablets, iPads

Old-school business users can pair their tablet with a stylus to use it like a digital notebook.

Android: Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 is the note-taking champ among Android tablets, with a built-in stylus and a pressure-sensitive touch screen for more accurate drawing and note-taking. A range of stylus options are also available for use with any other Android tablet.

Windows 8: Every model in Microsoft's Surface line comes with a built-in stylus. The Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 are also among the few tablets on the market with pressure-sensitive screens. A variety of styluses are also available for other Windows 8 machines.

iPad: No iPad model comes with a stylus, but there are plenty of options, including a few pens with built-in pressure sensitivity.

5. Cases and folios

You're sure to carry your tablet with you, whether you're commuting or on a business trip, so protect your important files and data with a case. Pick a folio-style cover for a more professional appearance if you plan to use your tablet during business meetings.

Android: With so many different Android tablets on the market, you'll have to check to see what's available for your device. The most popular models, like Samsung's Galaxy series and Google's Nexus series, will have more options to choose from.

Windows 8: The Surface line's Touch and Type covers double as screen protectors, and padded cases are available for all Windows 8 tablets.

iPad: Apple's Smart Case and Smart Cover provide varying levels of protection for, and there are plenty of third-party cases for older iPads.

Image Credit: Tablet accessories let you transition seamlessly from your couch to your work desk and beyond. / Credit: Shutterstock
Brett Nuckles
Brett Nuckles
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
A former Ohio newspaper man, Brett Nuckles fled the Midwest in 2013. He now lives in Seattle, where he spends his days tinkering with smartphones, tablets and computers. He loves to think about the intersection of technology and productivity, and how to get the most out of new gadgets and apps. He's also a big fan of vegetarian food and digital painting. In his off hours he spends most of his time drawing and painting sci-fi/fantasy scenes on his PC with his trusty Wacom stylus in hand.