Mini in the Box: Cheap iPad accessories

Useful as iPads are (and before you complain, for the most part they are useful) they can often be augmented with a carefully made accessory – hence the thriving third party eco-system of cases, stands and what have you. But they can be quite expensive.

Mini in the Box, a small company based in China asked use very kindly to have a look at a few of the cut-price accessories they supplied for the iPad and we are a sucker for good manners so we agreed.


The rotating iPad stand
A charging dock for the iPad, this stand is a very peculiar contraption. You can insert your iPad in portrait mode and charge it as well as sync with iTunes via the USB connection. The rotating aspect is also curious – it refers to the iPad 30-pin port connector rather than the dock itself. I spent a good deal of time baffled as to how to hold the iPad on the stand horizontally before I realised they intended for you to simply slide the charging connector out of the way and merely rest the iPad in landscape orientation without charging. This feels a little less secure and is a bit of a fudge – but does work. When you plug the stand in, the bottom edge that holds your iPad in glows a futuristic blue, which is reasonably cool although it would be good if this were linked to the charging mechanism somehow rather than just blue all the time. The whole unit is plastic and the build quality is very average – erring on the flimsy side. However, it is also very, very cheap and if you’ve spent all your money getting your hands on an iPad in the first place, an inexpensive iPad stand isn’t the worst idea in the world.

USB/SD card reader
iPad detractors often bemoan the lack of USB or SD card support, and whilst it’s debatable as to whether this should have been built directly into the iPad, rather than merely part of the external camera connector kit, the magic of having the USB and SD ports built into the one dongle is undeniable. As with the stand, the build quality is a little on the cheap side, but it is a useful accessory -especially if you take lots of photos on the road and want to offload them. The USB port also lets you plug in USB keyboards and a seemingly random selection of other accessories. Nifty.

iPad stylus
Small drawing tool if you don’t feel that comfortable painting with your fingers. I couldn’t get this to work doing more than simple lines and it was hard to draw with any degree of subtly. One to avoid.