As any reader of the gadget websites knows, there's an amazing array of gadgets and tech tools vying for your attention. Some are even real products you can buy. I've come across two that any business pro should seriously consider for his or her toolkit, even if you're not always on the road. I've also found a highly promoted product that I don't think works for most people.
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The first cool gadget is Kanex's $59 ATV Pro, a godsend for presenters. I've argued before that the Apple TV makes a great way station for presentations and should be standard in any conference room or event where slideshow, video, and Web presentations are made. The ability to beam your presentation, including live Web access, from an iPhone 4 or later, iPad 2 or later, and soon Mac running OS X Mountain Lion through Wi-Fi to the Apple TV and from there to your display is priceless. And it gets rid of the whole cord-swap ritual that slows you down.
But an Apple TV has only an HDMI port, and most projectors and many conference room TVs use VGA. The ATV Pro is an HDMI-to-VGA adapter that simply works -- some of the cheap adapters are no good because they don't handle the content licensing protocol that HDMI enforces. There's nothing more to say: Connect your project or TV to the adapter, then the adapter to the Apple TV; you're ready to rock. If you have audio, connect a standard 3.5mm audio cable from the ATV Pro to the speaker input. (People using other devices can still do the cord-swap dance, if they prefer.)
Before I get to the other unqualified cool and useful gadget, I want to alert you to the $100 Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, which looks great and has some ingenious characteristics. The cover uses the magnets in the iPad 2 and third-gen iPad to snap on. The cover itself is a Bluetooth keyboard that is truly thin, as well as sleekly designed to match the iPad's aluminum skin. It goes very well with the iPad, and when on, the combo could appear to be a new type of MacBook Air.
Where the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover fails is in use. First, although it attaches to your iPad, you have to detach it, then awkwardly mate the detached iPad on to the keyboard's magnetic rail. I really wish it would somehow fold back like the Apple Smart Cover does and stay attached. Worse, if you have a protective skin on your iPad, it can't mate with the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover; the rail that holds the iPad is precisely fit to the iPad's width to ensure it stays in snug. I've learned the hard way that an iPad's aluminum skin can get banged up in backpack, and a skin is a must.
If you don't use a skin and don't mind the mating contortions, you still may have an issue with the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover: the angle of the iPad's screen. Basically, it's too steep, so you have to bend your neck uncomfortably to see and touch the screen (unless you're fairly short in the torso). Plus, the magnetic hinge doesn't hold on well, easily sliding side to side.
It's not as high-tech, but I prefer the $69 Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad, though it's not nearly as hip-looking. It converts into a sleeve to protect the iPad, works with skinned iPads, and has a better viewing angle in its built-in stand.