Nov 22 2012 - Tablets are the big trend for mobile computing right now. Their compact size and long running times make them great for those wanting to browse the web, check email, read a book or watch a movie pretty much anywhere. If you have or know someone who has a tablet PC, here are some suggested peripherals and accessories that can be useful to just about any tablet users.
Apple's iPad is undoubtedly the most popular of the tablets available on the market. Because of this, they also have the largest selection of specific accessories for their tablets. Whether the recipient has an older iPad, one of the latest Retina models or the new Mini, check out my selection of ideas specific for Apple's tablets.
Amazon certainly started the trend for the more affordable tablets on the market with their original Kindle Fire tablet. This combined with their heavy emphasis on making it easy for reading books, listening to music or watching videos, the tablet is excellent for anyone wanting a tablet primarily for media. Check out my suggestions for gift ideas specific to the various Amazon tablets.
Google's Android operating system is the most commonly used software for tablets outside of Apple's iOS. The company previously relied on other hardware companies to make the tablets but that changed this year with the release of the Nexus 7 and later the Nexus 10. These offer a unique take on the Android tablet that certainly set themselves apart from the crowded market. Find out what gifts I think best complement Google's tablets.
©Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble is still most closely identified with books and their tablets still put a heavy emphasis on being accessible to readers while providing the ability to play games and watch video as well. While they may have a fairly small portion of the market, they offer a huge range of personalization through their huge number of cases and covers alone. Find out which accessories I think make the best gifts for those with the NOOK tablets.
While tablets are fairly rugged, they still are prone to scratches and dings from being carried around. In addition, they may not have the best surface for holding them. A cover or sleeve is a great way to protect your tablet when you carry it but aren't necessarily using it. Covers can also often double as a stand for the tablet when it is resting on a table. The big problem with cases is that each is custom made for a specific tablet. Because of this, a sleeve can be useful for just about any tablet and is still useful if you happen to change between two different tablets. The Timbuk2 Envelope Sleeve is available for just about any of the tablets on the market and offers a nice level of protection thanks to its foam construction. They are also TSA approved so that you don't have to remove your tablet from the sleeve when you travel.
Tablets are meant to be touched for doing just about everything. There are two problems with this. The first is that sometimes it is just really hard to touch exactly the right spot either because the screen is small or fingers might just be too big. The second is that touching the screens gets them dirty very quickly. A stylus is essentially a type of pen or pointing device that is designed to mimic the touch of one's finger. The size and style of models available is extremely diverse. There is even a brush which is surprisingly accurate and a great choice for those wanting to also dabble in art on a tablet. Prices range from around $10 to over $100 with many around $30.
Just about every tablet on the market uses some type of glossy glass or plastic to cover the display on the tablet. While this gives it an incredible display when it first comes out of the box, over time the grease and grime from touching the screen will quickly dull that picture and result in a distorted picture. Some tablets will come with a small cleaning cloth but not all do. It is best to always have one handy to get back that high gloss look. A microfiber lens cloth is a great choice for this type of job as they are designed for use with glass and plastics so they won't scratch. Prices can range from a few dollars to around $15.
Tablet batteries generally give you enough power to last an entire day. The compact size make them great for traveling. Of course, when you are on the road, you will still need some way to charge it. Most tablets have the ability to charge through a standard USB port either through a normal USB cable or a provided adapter cable. The problem is that they don't always include an AC adapter for charging. Belkin offers a nice kit that includes a USB AC adapter than can rotate to let it fit just about any power plug plus a standard car power port adapter as well. Priced around $30 to $40.
Typing long emails on a virtual keyboard can be a challenge at times. The auto correction features and awkward touch recognition can sometimes end up with hilarious results that probably shouldn't be sent to another person. Thankfully, most of the tablets on the market feature Bluetooth capabilities. This allows an external Bluetooth device such as a keyboard to be connected to the tablet. Having a physical keyboard can help increase typing accuracy and speed and is a godsend to anyone that is looking to do a lot of work on their tablet. I like the Apple Wireless Keyboard thanks to its durable construction and very compact size that makes it very easy to carry in addition to a tablet. Priced around $70.
Media watching is one of the greatest benefits of tablets. The ability to watch movies and TV while traveling or just relaxing at home is very satisfying. Netflix is the biggest name when it comes to streaming video services. They offer a huge selection of TV and movie titles to choose from even if they aren't the latest and greatest. The best part is that they offer software to use their service on most of the major tablet platforms. It is a subscription based service but has a very low price of just $7.99/month. Gift subscriptions are only currently available for the streaming service and can be selected in lengths of 1, 2, 3, 6 or 12 months to offer a wide range of gift budgets.
Tablets have a limited amount of storage space on them which can be problematic for those that like to carry around a lot of applications, music and video with their device. Some tablets on the market have flash memory card slots on them to allow for additional storage space. The most common type of port to be found is the Micro SD slot. These are incredibly small flash memory cards that can over double the amount of storage space to be found in a tablet. Now, not all tablets have a micro SD slot. They may use a full size SD card slot or require an adapter to use the memory cards. Be sure to check on the capabilities of the tablet before buying one. A typical price for a 32GB micro SD card with a full size SD card adapter is around $25.
Gift Cards For App Stores
Gift cards are a fairly popular trend for gifts these days. After all, if you can't come up with a personalized gift idea, a gift allows the recipient to choose their own gift. Application stores are the most common way for tablet users to purchase programs for their tablets. The downside here is that not all application stores offer gift cards. The two biggest platforms do have options available to do so though. Apple offers the applications through a branch of its standard iTunes store. As a result, you can purchase iTunes gift cards
for the recipient. While it is possible to get gift cards for the Google Play
Android Market, the Amazon Appstore for Android is more convenient and accepts the standard Amazon gift cards
. The great thing about this is that the recipient can elect to use the card for anything else offered through Amazon's store.