Special report: iPad 3 / New iPad : What You Need To Know
Hands on: iPad 3 Review
With every design tweak of an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, there comes the risk that it won't work with the accessories you've already bought for your previous gadget. Will this be the case with the iPad 3? And what accessories should new iPad owners be on the look out for? We show you the best cases, keyboards and audio docks to consider.
Will iPad 2 accessories work with the iPad 3?
The most important factor with expensive accessories like iPad audio docks is the socket, and whether the iPad 3 will throw a spanner in the works by ditching the 30-pin dock port used in every iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. There's not a snowball's chance in San Francisco that Apple will change tack at this point.
Will iPad 2 cases fit the iPad 3?
The same casing prototypes that give us confidence iOS dock owners won't be left in the lurch also tells us a lot about case compatibility. The iPad 3 appears to be every-so slightly thicker than the previous model.
See? Not so different after all.
However, the difference is slight, and the size of the screen plus bezel appears to be identical. So - hurrah - a great many iPad 2 cases should be perfectly fine with the new model. M.I.C. Gadget also reports that the official Apple Smart Cover works fine too, having checked it out with the casing in person.
A few case designs may not agree with the chubbification of the tablet, mind. If you use a figure-hugging non-flexible case like the The Joy Factory's SmartFit2 plastic one, you will likely encounter problems. Got a folio case for your existing iPad 2? Most models should be fine, as they tend to allow for a little bit if room for the iPad to sit in. It might me a tad snug, though.
What are the best iPad case designs?
As the iPad 3 is a minor tweak of the iPad 2 in external hardware terms, you can bet that many of the big iPad accessory makers will crank out revitalised versions of their old - and newer - designs. For basic cases, both Cygnett and iLuv are worth checking out.
iLuv excels at producing simple, low-cost accessories like the Neoprene case and basic folio. Their range really excels once it has been given the cut-price treatment, but as the new iPad should play nice with both these existing designs, they are worth considering.
Cygnett's designs are a little snazzier, but they are still generally very affordable and can often be bought from mainstream high street retailers. Recently we took a look at the Cygnett SecondSkin case for iPad 2 and were pretty impressed.
If you're willing to spend a little more, you should keep an eye out for the iPad 3 version of the Adonit Writer 2 Plus. It's a delightfully tasteful Bluetooth keyboard case that doubles-up as a standard case. The keyboard is detachable and has a snazzy aluminium body for a blast of that Apple flavour.
We reviewed the original Adonit Writer and found it to be good with a few caveats, but this sequel appears to fix them all. The keys are better spaced-out, the keyboard more flexible now that it's removable, and it fits-in a rechargeable battery.
Which audio docks rock?
While doubtless a few audio docks will claim to be optimised for the iPad 3, most current models should get on fine with Apple's new tablet. If you have plenty of cash to spend, the B&W Zeppelin Air is thoroughly worth checking-out. It looks fab, sounds big and powerful, and will work perfectly with the iPad over Airplay (or the dock if you're feeling adventurous).
Although not endorsed by Led Zep, we like to imagine Robert Plant might enjoy one
If you want to spend a bit less, but still want high-end sound, Philips's Fidelio range deserves your attention. The Philips Fidelio DS9 will take an iPad 3 on, sitting atop the front dock port. It's a little less loud, design-wise, than the Zeppelin Air too - although it doesn't have Airplay. No wireless streaming here.
However, adding Airplay tends to add £100 to the price of any product - a hefty wedge. An alternative, if you want to go wireless, is Bluetooth. Creative makes some of our favourite Bluetooth speakers, and both the D200 and ZiiSound D5 are great buys. They'll connect to your tablet following a quick sync process or using one of Creative's own adapters, which plug directly into the dock port.
And the rest?
Our survey (by which we mean best guess) says that Apple's official accessories will not change dramatically with the arrival of the iPad 3. You'll still need additional cables to use memory cards, and to output video over HDMI or VGA.
However, we expect that Apple will have some neat new information about how the new Apple TV box - also expected to arrive on 7 March - will interact with an iPad 3, removing the need for these accessories if you're willing to make your house an Apple iHome.