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iPad 2 and the race of the third-party accessory makers

Steve Jobs had barely left the stage and my inbox began to fill with third-parties eager to give me their take on the iPad 2. Apple’s obsession with thinness has trimmed the old iPad to a shadow of its former self and left the rich ecosystem of cases and knick-knacks looking to upgrade. As with the iPad 1, Apple debuted a pretty clever case system – this time using folds and magnets to simultaneously shield and show off your new device. Third-parties will have their work cut out.

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Scosche Industries were first in my inbox:

“We take pride in consistently being one of the first accessory manufacturers to market following a new Apple product announcement,” said Kas Alves, Executive Vice President of Scosche Industries.  “This time we are taking our commitment to being a market leader to a new level by delivering all our new iPad 2 products in the same month as Apple’s announcement.”

And what did they have to show? The Scosche glosSEE p2 is a translucent, flexible rubber case for the new tablet that provides an enhanced grip and superior protection while the Scosche snapSHIELD p2 is a low profile polycarbonate case for iPad 2.  The shatterproof snapSHIELD is $29.99 and the glosSEE is  $39.99. There was also the $59.99 Scosche freeKEY, a water resistant, Bluetooth keyboard, perfect for working on the go (presumably if you are around a lot of liquids).  The silicone keyboard has a wireless range of up to 30 feet, a retractable USB cable for charging, and rolls up for easy storage.  Although as it works with all Apple Bluetooth iOS devices, sneaking it in under an iPad 2 press release is probably cheating a bit.

Logic3 were quick to email and remind me that their iPad dock range covered here works just as well with an iPad 1 as an iPad 2. Duly noted.

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However, I was most impressed with Proporta, the Brighton based manufacturer of protective gadget cases and accessories, simply as they went all out – releasing 17 new products designed specifically for the new Apple iPad 2 – 15 different protective cases ranging from £19.95 to £59.95 and two Advanced Screen Protectors. The range includes two styles of Proporta’s unique Aluminium Lined Leather Case, an eco-friendly Proporta Smart Recycled Leather Case, two exclusive Mizu flexible TPU shells, five fashion-focused cases from the Proporta Shine collection and a distinctive Maya II pouch range. Two Leather Sleeves, Profile Hard Shells, Leather Style Cases and a Black Leather Case complete Proporta’s Apple iPad 2 protective case offering.

As for our actual thoughts on the iPad 2? Well I’d be foolish to opine so strongly on a device I’d not yet touched but I retain some cautious optimism until I get one in my hands. More than most gadgets, tablets and smartphones need to be played with before you can get a decent sense of them. I’m a big fan of my iPad 1, have been underwhelmed by most (but not all) rival offerings and write most of my LG articles on it – the tiresome dictum that iPads (and tablets in general) are solely for consumption rather than creation should surely be put to bed now. An iPad that is faster, lighter and throws in a few new toys (cameras, HDMI out and gyroscopes) can’t be a bad thing. Now does anyone want to buy my old iPad?