Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

Rugged Book 1

A year or so ago I told you about the nifty keyboard case I got for my iPad mini, essentially turning it into an “iBook Nano.”  It changed my life.  By putting it into a zippered padded pouch with pockets for pens, charger, note pad, etc., I had a handled “briefcase” no bigger than an average-sized hardback book, which I took everywhere.  Because I use Word integrated with Dropbox, the latest version of all my files are always at my fingertips and ready to work on in seconds.  I could spend 12 minutes of a 15-minute break actually writing.

The thing about the Zagg Slim Book(c) is that because it is so thin, it is rather fragile.  Hence the padded pouch.  But there is one spot on the case, where the speaker and charger cutouts are, that will crack very easily.  Fortunately, Zagg has an outsanding return policy, and as long as you register your purchase online, they will replace your entire product with a brand new one at zero cost to you.  I did that twice.

The third time my case cracked, however, I discovered that Zagg had discontinued my particular product.  This is the point where Zagg really earned a gold star in my book.  They offered to upgrade me to the new Rugged Book keyboard case at no cost.  The Rugged Book retails for $139.99 on Zagg’s site, but you can find it varous places, including Amazon, for much less (I was still working my initial $37 investment of that original Slim Book I bought on sale).

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This new case lives up to it’s name — rugged.  The upper case has a rubber seal on all sides, and you would have to try awfully hard to break it.  It’s designed for outdoor use — camping, construction, surveying.  It still has the same great features as the Slim Book: function keys, keyboard backlighting, a full year of charge, bluetooth connectivity, and the keyboard feels like full size. Now I don’t have to wory about the case cracking, and if anything does go wrong, Zagg has generously restarted my warranty … to make up for the “inconvenience.”

61CuEP+QTTL._SL1500_To round out my portable office, I purchased high capacity portable charger with a nifty build-in charging cable.  I got the 5000mAh pocket charger by Kolumb through Amazon, for $19.99.  I can recharge my iPad to full with this, and my iPhone 7 to full twice over.  It charges fast, too, and fits in the pocket of my case without hardly making a bump.  It’s not quite as thick as my iPhone, and only about a quarter of an inch longer.  The adapter allows it to charge both Apple and Android devices.

 

For anyone who has trouble finding time to write on a busy schedule, this is an affordable, workable solution that I have found invaluable.  Now get writing!

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A couple of weeks ago, I gleefully told you about my economical and oh, so convenient solution for writing on-the-go: my iWerkz folding bluetooth keyboard, which lets me write on my phone anywhere and at a moment’s notice.  This is great for getting in some writing during my short breaks at my retail job.

But let me be honest — I still want a laptop.  And I still don’t have the money for one.  And even if I had one, it would not be as portable as a phone.  Well, I found a perfect middle-ground, and I am in writer-geek heaven.

I happen to have a two-year-old iPad Mini.  I hear, you … what happened to “economical”?  Well, you can pick up a brand new iPad Mini 2 direct from Apple for less than $270.  There are better deals and refurbished iPads available all over the place, including deals on eBay for around $150.  Mine had been pretty much claimed by my eight-year-old son.  I bought him a dandy 7″ tablet from Barnes & Nobel for just $50, and now I have my iPad back full-time.

So what’s my killer solution? I found a rocking keybord case for the iPad Mini. It’s made by Zagg, who is known for quality cases for Apple devices, and this one is called the Zagg Slim Book for iPad Mini 2 or 3.  It’s been around for a couple of years, because the iPad Mini 2 came out three years ago. And that’s the best part of this; instead of the original retail price of $119, I paid only $26 for my case on Amazon, with free shipping.

It’s fantastic. As you can see, above, it looks just like a MacBook, with an aluminum keyboard with black, back-lit keys.  The top row of buttons take you to the home screen, turn the iPad on or off, launch Siri, launch search, and control video and audio playback and volume. While smaller than a standard-sized keyboard, this Zagg keyboard is surprisingly easy and enjoyable to use.  It really is as if I turned my iPad into the world’s tiniest MacBook. The keyboard even supports the familiar alt/tab feature that lets you easily switch between apps.

But that’s just the beginning. The “screen” part of the mini laptop (the actual iPad itself) is attached to the hinge mechanism by a series of very strong magnets. Which means you can detach it and use the iPad without the keyboard. This also means you can flip it around and use the keyboard behind the iPad as a convenient stand for viewing videos. And in this configuration, you can fold the keyboard flat behind in what they call “book mode.”

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The rechargeable keyboard has a two year battery life.  That’s right, two YEARS. Even if it’s only half that….

Here’s a nice video review.

The best part is that I can carry this around with me. I’m planning to get one of those padded slip cases for a little added protection and to hold a pencil and note pad. I already have apps for Wikipedia, Webster’s Dicionary/Thesaurus, and, of course, Microsoft Word and OneNote — all free. On an iPad, Word works without a 360 subscription, and it is integrated seamlessly with DropBox. I used my new keyboard case to compose this blog, and found it effortless.

If you happen to already have an iPad (Zagg makes this exact same case for the full-sized iPad, too), you can turn it into basically a touch-screen reversible laptop for under $50. The reversible touch-screen Windows laptop I bought my daughter cost ten times that much. If you decide to try this case, I’d love to hear your reviews.

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Okay, I know I already wrote about how I like to write using my iPhone, because I always have it with me, and so on and so forth … you can real all about it.  Yeah, that’s all still true.

But I got an iPad for my birthday.  And suddenly the world (the small one my writing lives in) is a whole new place.

I’m writing this on my iPad.   This isn’t really much different that writing it on my iPhone, except that in the past when I chose to compose a post on my iPhone, I usually just used the on-screen keyboard.  Now, I’m usoing my bluetooth full keyboard.  In both cases I use my Thinkstock app to locate and download the stock images I use in my posts (subscription required), and Dropbox to manage all of my files.  Oh, for those of you contemplatig doing this, let me recomment composing your posts in a browser, rather than using the WordPress app.  The tools are much richer on the web, which seems odd to me, but that’s how it is.

Working with my novel manuscript is where thigs have really changed for me.  And not only because of the new iPad.  Up until now I’ve been using an app called Documents to Go, which is a little pricey for an iPhone app ($16.99) but it lets you manage, create and edit Office documents right on your phone, and iitegrates seamlessly with Dropbox.  This was a match made in heaven for me.  The Word editor is a little light, in that you can’t work with headers of footers, but it is rich in other features such as text style and size, paragraph justification, bullets, etc.  Which Microsoft’s latecomer Word for iPhone had even less of.  Plus, I didn’t need to pay a yearly subscription fee to use it.

Literally the day after I got my iPad Microsoft released a new suite of Office apps for iPhones and iPads that do not require a subscription, and are still feature-rich.  Plus, it integrates with Dropbox.  Now, I can view an entire full page of my manuscript — including footers and headers — on my screen.

This is huge.  And I only have an iPad Mini.  (See what I did, there?).

And all the other writing-related things I have been doing on my phone are much better, too, on an iPad.  The book on life in medieval Europe I’m reading — and heavily highlighting — is full-size, now.  Books were always very readable on my iPhone before, but now I get the whole page all at once.  Viewing PDFs is suddenly practical, because unlike in an e-book reader, PDFs do not reflow the text to fit your screen.  You have see the whole page in miniature, or you have to look at small bits of it through a retangular window, and scroll around a lot.

I’m very happy with the Mini.  I think a full-sized iPad would bee too big to conveniently carry around.  But that’s me.  Up until now I have been telling myself that I was going to take part of my advance for this book (because I live in an optimistic fantasy world) and but myself a Macbook Air, and write it off as a business expense.  So I was going to be perfectly fine carrying that around.  But now … I don’t think I’ll bother.