The iPad is the world’s most popular tablet as a gift, and for many good reasons: the fit and finish of the hardware is astounding, the screen is sharp and bright, the touch sensitivity response is superb, and the app ecosystem is huge. If you want a tablet that can do pretty much everything, the iPad is it. The iPad Air 2 is powerful, the iPad Air is nearly as good. The iPad Mini offers a handy form factor, great for video, games, and ebooks.
But what about holiday gifts for iPad users who already own their shiny iPad? No problem. Shopping for an iPad owner is easier than ever — why? Accessories. Because the iPad is so popular, lots of manufacturers offer cool iPad accessories.
More importantly, iPad owners tend to love their iPads and put them to use more than other tablets. So it makes sense to find a gift that’s especially good for iPad users. Here’s some of the best:
Best Gifts for iPad Lovers 2014
1. SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive for iPhone and iPad
Because 16GB on an iPad can get a little cramped if you’re taking video and making movies — if not playing big games — a handy way to save or move files can save an iPad owner a lot of headache. Enter the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive for iPhone and iPad. This new little USB external drive is designed specifically for iPhone and iPad, and it includes a built-in Lightning connector. This means you don’t have to mess around with a WiFi or Bluetooth connection to access or transfer files — just plug it in and use the free SanDisk iOS app. Cool use? Take photos and video on your iPhone then offload it to your iPad for big-screen editing and moviemaking.
2. Keyboard Case
For an iPad owner who also likes to work, a keyboard case can make the difference between poking at email with a touchscreen or really getting something done. While Apple doesn’t make its own keyboard case or cover, there are several iPad accessory manufacturers who are building some innovative and useful keyboard solutions for iPads. Just make sure you know which model of iPad your iPad lover has — an iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad 2, iPad Mini . . . and choose accordingly. You have three basic types of iPad keyboards to choose from — 1) folio style models that fold open and then prop up the iPad, 2) keyboard shells, which fit to the iPad as a rigid cover over the screen . . . that, when removed, have a groove you can stand the iPad into, and 3) clamshell-type systems that turn an iPad into something that looks more like a traditional laptop. So how can you possibly choose? Keyboard shells are the most flexible. I like models offered by Zagg, Kensington, and Logitech, but there are other decent options out there. Definitely do this: Pay attention to the star rating reviews on Amazon — when you’ve got hundreds of people giving up a 4.5 star average, you’re in a pretty safe gift-buying place.
3. Beats Headphones
Now that Apple has acquired the popular line of Beats by Dre headphones, the stylish (and spendy) Beats headphones are in hot demand by pretty much everyone under the age of 30. While some audiophiles think Beats headphones are tuned for too much bass, customers seem to gush over them. There are several lines of Beats headphones, in lots of different color combinations — for your iPad lover, choose the pair that best fits your budget. On the other hand, if you’re buying for someone older but still want a kickass look and sound, the foldable V-MODA Crossfade M-100 (with inline mic) are pretty sweet. For an under $50 deal, try the Incipio NX-100 f38 headphones.
4. Bluetooth Speakers
Wireless Bluetooth speakers are always handy for iPad owners — to listen to music, sure, but also for when you want to kick back and watch a movie with more sound volume to rock those action scenes or hear the subtle whispers. Even the low-cost Bluetooth speakers like the JAM Classic do a surprisingly good job in small rooms. Look to the Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker for higher quality or the Beats Pill Portable Speaker for Beats fans (or those who want to take a speaker phone call through the speaker). What about rugged and waterproof? Try the Photive HYDRA Rugged Water Resistant Wireless Bluetooth Speaker.
5. Game Controller
With all sorts of fantastic, highly graphical games available for the iPad these days, an external game controller can make all the difference in the world — because really, touching and swiping is great and all, but nothing is better for fast action gaming than a physical controller. If you’re iPad user loves games, you can’t go wrong with an external wireless controller. Try the SteelSeries Stratus Wireless Gaming Controller for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
5. Rugged Case
With more and more iPad users venturing into the great outdoors with their iPads to take photos, shoot video, and enjoy a movie off the beaten path, a rugged case can extend the enjoyment. Try the Griffin Survivor Case series. The case is tested to US Department of Defense MIL-STD-810 standards and deflects wind and rain.
6. Tripod Mount
If your iPad lover is into taking photo and video, a tripod stand can let them take stable shots most anywhere. The tripod can also double as a stand, providing access to an iPad in new ways. the For iPad mini, try the Square Jellyfish Metal Mini Tablet Tripod Mount (which lets you use the gadget with other standard tripods). For the iPad Air or Air 2 — with or without a case, try the iShot G7 Pro.
7. Battery Charger
For on-the-go charging, nothing beats a powerful backup battery charger. To fully recharge an iPad, you’ll want a bigger charger than most of those you see for smartphones. This means a lot of mAh . . . and the Jackery Giant+ Premium Portable Charger packs 12,000mAh, which is more than enough to fully recharge an iPad.
8. Long Lightning Cable
Apple iPad owners usually run around untethered by power cords, but sometimes you want to be able to charge your iPad and still use it. Enter the 6-foot long Lightning to USB cable. These are great for outlets that are just a little too far away from where you want to charge your iPad. The AmazonBasics Apple Certified Lightning to USB Cable offers the best quality-to-value ratio — and it comes in 3 feet or 6 feet options, black or white.
9. Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station
It seems as if WiFi should just work, easily and correctly all the time — but it doesn’t always. Sometimes it’s due to old routers or different Internet services or interferences. But, it turns out, there’s two Apple WiFi routers with super high customer satisfaction rates that are easy to setup, secure, and extend. The Apple AirPort Express Base Station and the AirPort Extreme Base Station. If you have hard-to-reach WiFi areas in your home, a the AirPort Extreme uses six antennas to guide stronger signals to your devices. The Express works great in smaller homes, but you can also pair two up to get even more coverage. If you have a streaming video-using household, Apple might provide more consistent WiFi for you.
10. Apple TV
The Apple TV is a set-top box that connects to your HDTV via HDMI and lets you access a Apple iTunes-based movies, TV shows, and some select TV channel apps. It will stream Netflix movies, and with AirPlay from the Amazon Prime Video app on your iPad, it’ll stream Amazon Prime Video to your HDTV, too. For iPad owners, it’s the logical extension to the big screen in the living room.
11. The WINGStand
If you have an Apple Wireless Keyboard, this handy little (stocking stuffer!) accessory snaps onto the rear of keyboard to provide a stand for your iPad or iPhone, letting you use a the full-size Apple keyboard to type on your iPad. If you don’t have a keyboard case cover solution, getting an official Apple Keyboard means you’ll get Apple’s legendary “feel” of its keys — crisp and smooth with relatively short travel.
Sort of geeky, but really cool for those who appreciate writing notes with pen and paper . . . or anyone with a bit of artist locked inside. The Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus brings awesome old-school style and makes a great gift, but there are dozens upon dozens of simpler and cheaper options.
13. HoverBar V3 for iPad
The Twelve South HoverBar V3 is an adjustable arm stand for all iPads. It has a heavy-duty but delicate clamp that attaches to any surface up to 1-inch thick, letting you clamp the arm to desks, tables, or kitchen cabinets. It’s a totally cool gadget for iPad lovers — especially cooks who like to stream shows while cooking or follow recipes.
Ollie by Sphero is an app-controlled cylinder that you can run around the house or outside by using your iPad or iPhone as a controller. It’s wicked fast (14 miles per hour) and can bust out some sick moves. It’s agile and fun, but if you’re getting it for kids, they’ll need to use an iPad or iPhone (or Android) device to control it.
15. Sphero 2.0
Sphero 2.0 is an app-controlled robotic ball as well as a gaming system. It’s a bit tough to wrap your head around, but you can control the ball like a remote-controlled car and zoom it all over the place up to 7 feet per second. Sphero is waterproof. You can download two dozen app games to play on it, too, like golf or The Rolling Dead which creates an augmented reality screen with zombies to roll around. If your iPad lover is also a developer — or future developer — he or she can create their own apps for Sphero.
Still haven’t found your iPad lover a gift? While it’s not particularly imaginative, try an Apple iTunes Gift Card — or better yet, an Amazon Gift Card, which they can use to find their own perfect iPad accessory.