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RainyDayGiftGuide 2014 : iGear

iPhones and iPads have pretty much taken over the world. So it was clear to us that we needed a RainyDayGiftGuide devoted to these, uh, iDevices. But because there are SO many accessories for iDevices available, we had to figure out how to narrow down our choices to a manageable few. The RainyDayInterns were up to the challenge. They looked at the list, checked it twice, and came up with a list of suggestions which we think will make any iPhone/iPad owner happy.

Regarding our 2014 RainyDayMagazine iGear recommendations: The items on this list were hand-selected from a much larger collection of accessories. The ones listed below are the ones we have used, tested, and found helpful. We hope you will as well!

Pelican Voyager: We are huge fans of Pelican water-proof cases for our camera and telescope gear, so when it comes to protecting our iDevices, we have no reason to doubt the ability of Pelican cases to protect those as well. While these cases are not waterproof, multiple layers of rigid polycarbonate and energy-absorbing TPR and PU rubbers will protect the phone against drops, dings, and other rough treatment. Also, they have the Pelican’s legendary lifetime guarantee: You break it, we replace it…forever™. Can’t beat that!

Pelican VAULT: Like all Pelican gear, this iPad case offers complete protection with excellent usability. The Pelican ProGear™ Vault for iPad mini™ protects the iPad in three ways:

  • Closed – prevents impact to the screen and seals out dust and moisture.
  • Open – offers cover-free use but with impact protection.
  • Easel/Stand – flip the cover over the back to use as a secure stand.

However, protection like this does come at a price. Once the iPad is secured in the case, access to the “naked” iPad will require the removal of a few screws. Not exactly convenient, but the Pelican VAULT was not designed for users who need to take the iPad in and out of their cases (to use with other accessories, etc.)..

Clamcase Pro: We used to be against cases with built-in keyboards for iPads, but Clamcase has changed our minds. Surprisingly, it’s not because the Clamcase Pro keyboard case is thin, light, and made out of aluminum. It’s because the Clamcase keyboard is really, really usable. We have tried a lot of iPad keyboards and didn’t think any were a pleasure to work on, especially one for the iPad mini, but the Clamcase is the exception case! The keys were spaced just far apart enough to make it possible to touch-type. Amazing. Another plus for the Clamcase is that the hinge allows the case to be completely folded backwards so that the keyboard is out of the way when not needed. Can’t wait to see what these guys will have for the iPad Pro (yes…we are calling the 12″ iPad the iPad Pro) when it comes out 🙂

ZAGG Cover: If only the thinnest keyboard cover will do, then  ZAGG’s keyboard coveris the one you want. It has a hinge with a c-shaped grip that is very secure and lets you insert and remove the cover without fuss. While it won’t fold back like the Clamcase, the ZAGG will allow the tablet to be inserted in such a way that the keyboard can face backwards and be out of the way. Oh yeah, the keyboard is also backlit for low-light use.What more do you want???

Note:  The keyboard is almost as good as that of the Clamcase (we like the size of the Shift keys on the Clamcase better), but still very usable.

Belkin Lego cover/case: iPad covers for business are pretty boring, am I right? For those who can rock it, the Belkin LEGO cover will let them show their more whimsical side. The smart-cover transforms into a stand for comfortable viewing and typing. However, the best part is that the official LEGO base plate will let them add LEGO bricks to iPad mini case! Can’t do that with any other case 🙂

iPhone / iPad stands and such:

  • The Joule and Gravitas stands we are recommending work for the iPhone or the iPad.
  • The Life-phorm will even hold up a DSLR.
  • Backwards compatible and future-proof is one of the things we look for in a great accessory. We like the Gravitas because while it supports all the new iDevices, it will also work with the older models of iPhone/iPad.
  • For good stocking stuffers, check out accessories from Digital Innovations and Benchsoft. They both have gadgets (ChargeDr2X cable) to help your iDevices charge faster and safer.

iPhone photography: Big DSLRs have their place, but so does the small, always-present iPhone camera. The little shooter is a lot more capable than most people realize. Here are two recommendations for those who may be interested in learning how to use the iPhone camera to its full potential.

TriggerTrap Mobile: While the iPhone is a great camera, it is also an excellent accessory for DSLR users. The TriggerTrap Mobile transforms the iPhone itself into an awesome remote trigger. This clever little cable and app combo turns the smartphone into the ultimate camera remote control…and a perfect Holiday gift for photographers.

EXO Labs iPhone/iPad Microscope: The coolest accessory for the iPhone or iPad has got to be EXO Labs’ microscope camera. We have had this gem for about a year and have found it to be the most fun and rewarding accessory we have ever used with our iDevices. If you have someone on your list with a curious mind, EXO Labs microscope camera is the gift to give. If you want to blow the socks off your curious-minded giftee, pair it with the EXO Labs Discovery Kit!!!

The Discovery Kit includes:

  • Fixed-position stand: durable, sturdy, clear acrylic stand provides convenient attachment of the Exo Labs Camera
  • Variable focus lens: enables users to manually control zoom, focus, and aperture for a variety of viewing scenarios.
  • Built-in LED light source: for illuminating subjects in view; push-button on/off. (uses 3 AAA batteries, included)

If, after all this, you still can’t think of what to get, you can always just GIVE an Amazon Prime membership as a present 🙂

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