The iPad Air 2 is one of the best tablets ever made. It offers a big, sharp display, fast performance and an astonishingly thin profile. But for many business tasks, the iPad by itself is a bit lacking. That's why there are a slew of accessories that can turn your tablet into a solid work machine. It's hard to replace a laptop computer for on-the-go productivity, but with these five iPad Air 2 add-ons you can get close.
Keyboard: ClamCase Pro for iPad Air 2The ClamCase Pro keyboard dock can turn your iPad Air 2 into a miniature laptop. Credit: ClamCase
A touchscreen keyboard is fine for hammering out text messages and short emails. But for extended typing sessions you'll need something a bit more substantial. The ClamCase Pro keyboard cover is a bit pricey, but it's probably the closest you'll get to approximating a laptop computer with your iPad. The iPad Air 2 version isn't actually available to buy just yet, but you can sign up now to be notified when it becomes available for pre-order. Regardless, I expect the new model to be just as sturdy and reliable as the original iPad Air version. When you snap your iPad Air 2 into the lid of the case, you're left with something that looks more or less like a MacBook Air. When you're done using it, fold the lid down to protect your screen, just like with a traditional clamshell laptop. When you want to use your iPad as a tablet, there's no need to detach the keyboard – you can fold it back a full 180 degrees. In tablet mode, the keyboard keys are automatically deactivated so you don't have to worry about stray key presses.
Stylus: Adonit Jot Pro
Why bother with a paper notebook when you have the iPad Air 2 on hand? Unlike some other slates, the iPad lacks a pressure-sensitive display that can detect how hard you're pressing down. But you can still pick up a capacitive stylus for taking notes and drawing diagrams right on your tablet's screen. The Adonit Jot Pro is one of the better options for precise note-taking on the iPad Air 2. In place of a felt or rubber nib, the Jot Pro has a clear plastic disc on its tip that rotates to match the angle you're writing at. The clear disc actually enables the tip of the pen to be thinner, giving you a finer, more precise point to write with. And there's one other killer feature: It magnetically attaches directly to your iPad's outer bezel, so you always have it on hand when you need it. The pen also comes with a metal cap that protects the plastic disc when it's not in use.
Cover: Apple Smart Case
If you depend on your iPad for work, you'd better take care of it. The first step is wrapping it in some sort of protective case to help protect it from drops, dings and screen scratches. You can buy heavy-duty cases for your iPad Air 2, but I'm actually partial to Apple's own lightweight covers. The basic Smart Cover attaches to the edge of your tablet using magnets. When you fold it back, it automatically turns your screen on; of course, you'll still have to hold your thumb to the home button if your have Touch ID enabled on your iPad Air 2. Apple's Smart Case might be better than the Smart Cover, though, since it protects both the front and back of your device. Both fold back to form a triangle that can prop up your device while you're typing or reading. That's a plus if you want to pair your iPad Air 2 with a Bluetooth keyboard that doesn't have a built-in hinge.
Presentation cable: Lightning to VGA or AV adapter
Storing your business presentations on your iPad is a convenient way to take them with you, but you'll need to find a way to get them off your tablet and a bigger display. Unlike Android tablets, which have a standard micro USB port, iPads use Apple's proprietary Lightning cable, so not just any cable will work. Fortunately, Apple sells two different cables that let you show PowerPoint or Keynote presentation from your tablet. The first is the Lightning to Digital AV adapter, which lets you link your iPad Air 2 to a monitor or large TV display using an HDMI connection. The second is the Lightning to VGA Adapter, which could come in handy if you want to connect your tablet to a projector or an older monitor. Both cables make it easy to mirror content on your iPad's screen for a small audience – perfect for business meetings.
Portable charger: Phorce Pro
What good are great features if your tablet is always running out of juice? The iPad Air 2 actually delivers excellent battery life compared to other 10-inch tablets (it ran for more than 10 hours with continuous use during our tests) but it's better to be safe than sorry. The Phorce Pro "smart bag", which can recharge your iPad Air 2 as well as your smartphone and laptop, has you covered. The Phorce Pro features a built-in battery pack and plugs for your MacBook, iPad and iPhone. Phorce says the bag can fully recharge a laptop computer, or recharge an iPhone 5s up to 14 times before it needs a recharge itself. You can even connect your tablet to the Phorce Pro via Bluetooth to see how much juice it has left. And if you forget to grab your bag when you get up to leave, it will automatically fire off an alert so you can turn around and retrieve it. But this is no cheap charger: the Phorce Pro costs $699 for the Mac/iOS version, and $649 for the PC version. It's a big of an extravagant solution, but serious business users can make the most of it.