Apple Accessories for Your iPad mini

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

Your iPad mini has plenty of accessory options. You can expect a certain level of excellence when it comes to various Apple-branded accessories. That said, you can find out for yourself with a visit to the Apple Store, where you can read mini-reviews and pore over ratings from real people just like you.

Casing the iPad

Apple makes both a cover and a case for the iPad mini line. The cover is called a smart cover.

Made specifically for the iPad mini, the smart cover is ultra-thin and attaches magnetically. Flip it open and your iPad wakes instantly; flip it shut, and your iPad goes right to sleep. The cover cleverly folds to serve as a stand for hands-free viewing (in landscape mode only) or to angle the keyboard for easier typing.

[Credit: Courtesy of Apple]

Credit: Courtesy of Apple

The smart cover for the iPad mini is available in polyurethane in seven luscious colors for $39.

If you prefer leather, check out the $69 smart case, which comes in five gorgeous aniline-dyed shades. The smart case combines a smart cover with a case to protect the back of your iPad mini. Like a smart cover, the smart case folds into a stand for reading, typing, or watching video. And because it’s “smart,” it automatically wakes and sleeps your iPad when you open and close it.

Whatever case you choose, make sure it is compatible with your favorite accessories.

Apple wireless keyboard

A physical keyboard for the iPad is an easy addition, and because it’s the same keyboard that’s been bundled with iMacs for years, you may even own one already.

The Apple wireless keyboard is a way to use a decent-enough aluminum physical keyboard without tethering it to the iPad. It operates from up to 30 feet away from the iPad via Bluetooth.

[Credit: Courtesy of Apple]

Credit: Courtesy of Apple

If you have an Apple TV connected to your HDTV, you can stream the screen of your iPad to the HDTV by using AirPlay. And the Apple wireless keyboard is great for using on the couch.

As with many Bluetooth devices that the iPad makes nice with, you have to pair it to your tablet.

And if your native tongue isn’t English, you’ll be happy to know that Apple sells versions of the wireless keyboard in numerous languages, each still $69.

Not all the function keys on the wireless keyboard, will, um, function on your iPad mini. They’re there, though, because Apple bundles the same keyboard with the iMac and sells it for other Macs.

The iPad ought to work fine with any keyboard that supports Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology.

Finally, you can connect many USB keyboards to your iPad mini with the Lightning–to–USB camera adapter.

Connecting a camera

iPad minis don’t include a USB port or an SD memory card slot, which happen to be the most popular methods for getting pictures (and videos) from a digital camera onto a computer.

All the same, the mini is a marvelous photo viewer. So, if you take a lot of pictures, consider Apple’s Lightning–to–USB camera adapter or the Lightning–to–SD card camera reader, which are $29 each. The camera adapter sports a USB interface that you can use with the USB cable that came with your camera to download pictures. The SD card camera reader is an SD card reader with a Lightning connector so you can insert your camera’s SD memory card and transfer pictures.

[Credit: Courtesy of Apple]

Credit: Courtesy of Apple

Although the official line from Apple is that this USB adapter is meant to work with the USB cable from your digital camera, don’t expect all your USB devices to be compatible: Some require more power than the iPad mini can provide, and others need software drivers that aren’t available on the iPad.

Connecting an iPad mini to a TV or projector

To send iPad content to a bigger screen, you can choose from three connectors:

  • VGA adapter cable: Projecting what’s on the iPad mini’s screen to a larger display is the reason behind the Lightning–to–VGA cable that Apple is selling for $49. You can use it to connect your iPad mini to TVs, projectors, and VGA displays. What for? To watch videos, slideshows, and presentations on the big screen.

    By today’s standards, VGA (video graphics array) delivers low-resolution video output compared to the more advanced HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface).

  • Digital AV adapter cable: The newest addition to the Apple adapter family is the Apple digital AV adapter ($49). It uses HDMI, which is pretty much a standard on state-of-the-art HDTVs and other modern gear. And it comes with a nice bonus: You can mirror the display on your iPad on a big-screen TV, which is great for demos and presentations. Be sure to get the Lightning–digital AV model if you have an iPad mini 2 or 3.

Speaking of mirroring the display of your iPad onto a large-screen TV, you can do that wirelessly with iPad as long as you’re streaming to another Apple accessory called Apple TV.

Keeping a spare charger

Having a spare charger at the office can spare you (!) from having to commute with one. The Apple iPad 10W USB power adapter sells for $29 and includes a lengthy six-foot cord. Again, make sure to get the one with a Lightning cord if you have an iPad mini with that connector.

And if you’re traveling abroad, consider the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit. The $39 kit includes the proper prongs and adapters for numerous countries around the globe, and it lets you juice up not only your iPads, but also iPhones, iPod touches, and Macs.

Finally, if you have an old iPhone or iPod USB power adapter, or almost any other power adapter with a USB port, chances are good it’ll work, though it may take longer to charge your iPad mini.