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Thanks to the iPad 2's ridiculous wealth of apps - it's compatible with both original iPad apps and iPhone apps - the new Apple tablet wunderkind can do an incredible amount of stuff fresh out of the box. However, with an accessory or two you can not only keep it protected but add new functionality too.
With the right accessory, the "walled garden" of iOS starts to open up, letting you output video to your TV, use your iPad as a guitar amplifier and even a miniature recording studio. If you haven't been cleaned-out buying the tablet in the first place, take a look at our round-up of accessories already available for Apple's next-gen tablet.
One of the classiest iPad 2 cases around, the Griffin Elan Folio uses a book-style faux-leather flap to protect the iPad's screen. The inside of the case is lined with soft microsuede - so that its bodywork won't get scratched.
The Elan Folio also doubles as a stand. There's a fold in the otherwise fairly-rigid front flap, and a lip on the back of the case that this front flap slots into when folded around. With this in place, the iPad can be held up in two ways, like a photo frame or at a less severe angle that's perfect for watching videos on the train. There's also a pricier real leather version of the Elan Folio available.
A little more outrageous-looking than the reserved Griffin Elan Folio, this iLuv case has a heavily embossed design that'll soak up the damage from light knocks and bumps. This isn't a case that you can keep on in use though, as there's no window for the screen or any cut-outs for sockets. The inside of the case is lined with a soft fleece-like material, so as long as you don't let any grit inside, it'll keep the whole of the iPad protected.
The zip only covers half of the case's side, so you can't flip over one half of the case and use your iPad still resting on it. This may limit its appeal, but it's affordable, well-made and rugged enough to offer a decent amount of protection for the new £400+ apple of your eye. For the more outgoing, a shocking pink version is also available.
iLuv's take on the classic folio look is much like Griffin's, but the silver bar on its front emblazoned with the "iLuv" logo gives it a slightly feminine vibe. The leather grain is also more realistic than Griffin's attempt, but we're still dealing with good old pleather here, not the real thing.
Large poppers keep the font flap in place when closed, and provide the iLuv Portfolio case with its iPad stand functionality - flip it around the back and it'll attach to another set of poppers. The iPad can then be kept upright, or at a less severe angle, much like the Griffin Elan Folio. Which is better though? There's little to separate them in build quality terms, and both are lined with microsuede. The stitching on the iLuv case is subtler, but any rugged manly types out there might be put off by the "iLuv" branding visible on the case's front.
£59 (Leather) / £35 (Polyurethane)
The cleverest case around is Apple's own Smart Cover. It only protects the front of the device, but as such it hardly adds any bulk to the slimline iPad 2. It uses magnets to stick to the side of the iPad (it won't work with an original iPad) and will even take the tablet out of sleep mode when removed from the screen.
For such a simple design, the Smart Cover does cost a bit though. The polyurethane model retails for £35 while the luxury leather edition costs £59 - and this being Apple, you won't see any massive reduction on these any time soon. At least there are enough colours on offer to cater for a variety of tastes - there are five polyurethane shades (grey, blue, green, orange and pink) and five leather shades (tan, black, dark blue, white and red).
With all the class of an Apple Smart Cover and much more exclusivity, the Miniot Wood iPad 2 case is probably our favourite of the lot. Made out of a single piece of wood, the case flexes just like the Smart Cover, and attaches to the iPad 2 with the aid of magnets.
As you can see in the video below, it rolls up to form a movie-viewing stand, so it doesn't look out in functionality terms either. The price? It's around the same as the leather Smart Cover, and as the Miniot Wood cover will be produced in much smaller quantities, you avoid that identikit look - it won't be too long before Smart Covers start popping up on the high street all the time, in the hands of iPad 2 owners.
The Angry Birds games only cost 59p a pop, but you'll have to fork out a fair bit more for this Gear4 case if your addiction to this series is so severe you simply must clad your iPad in its titular avians. It's a hard plastic shell that covers the iPad's back, with holes for the various sockets and on-body controls.
For full protection, you'll have to match it up with a screen protector, as it leaves the front end of the tablet bare. There are several Angry Birds designs available from Gear4, and as they're official the likenesses of the birds and the green pigs are spot on.
Not so much a case as an advanced screen protector, the Zagg InvisibleSHIELD coats the iPad 2 - back and front - in a thin plastic film that'll fend-off scratches and keep the resale value of the device sky high. Zagg produces these shields for most popular phones, and it has the process down to an art, with plastic that doesn't ruin the responsiveness of the capacitive touchscreen.
The downside of using an InvisibleSHIELD is that it doesn't offer much protection from falls. Scratches and scrapes it can contend with, but drop it and the InvisibleSHIELD won't help much. It does of course come with the bonus of not adding any substantial bulk to the tablet's body.
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