Hugh John finds some useful, inexpensive iLuv add-ons for his iPad2
iLuv keyboardiPad2 becomes laptop with £60 iLuv keyboardAmong the many tech-goodies on show at Santa's pre-Christmas grotto – also known as  the excellent Digital Winter Technology Fair – were two very useful products from iLuv, the successful accessory provider for all things mobile – and Apple.

The Professional case wtih Bluetooth keyboard (£60.99) is a boon for those limited by the iPad's on-screen keyboard, while the iLuv USB plug is a budget (£15) aid for charging and better mobility.

Well designed as the iPad's on-screen keyboard may be, for those used to a full-size keyboard it's just not a 'proper' keyboard. And it's all too easy to give up touch-typing skills for the sort of hunt-and-peck typing that characterises many users of mobile phones. Thumbs, index fingers and little else. Which is not to say that in the right – usually teenage – hands this technique is not impressively speedy as many blisteringly fast texters will prove. For short messages it may be the fastest way of inputting text. But for anything longer – essays, memos and the like – hunt-and-peck typing is surely not the most effective, safe or ergonomic typing method. That’s why it's worth taking a look at alternatives like the iLuv Professional case with Bluetooth keyboard.

Sheathed in black leatherette, the iLuv case fits snugly around an iPad2 as well as any regular protective case. But what distinguishes it from other cases is that the base of the unit houses a detachable keyboard, firmly secured by four concealed magnets. It's a clever idea and lets the user position the keyboard for maximum comfort and efficiency, or, for those times when the iPad keyboard will suffice, remove and leave at home. The iLuv keyboard is remarkably thin and makes very little difference to the thickness of the case.

Bluetooth connection is simple and quick

Connection between iPad and keyboard is through Bluetooth wireless and this takes just seconds to establish. Turn on the Bluetooth option in Settings and the power switch on the side of the keyboard, press the pairing button and you'll be prompted to enter a four-digit PIN code provided by the iPad. This is a one-off pairing procedure; thereafter it's a matter of ensuring that Bluetooth is active on the iPad and that the keyboard is powered up (a USB to micro USB cable is provided). And talking of power, iLuv suggests that the onboard lithium battery, fully charged, is sufficient for five days of use.

The scissors-type keyboard has a responsive action and a generous, padded palm/wrist support that is remarkably similar in design to a MacPro laptop. If you need further proof of Apple influenced design look no further than the famous cloverleaf icon on the Command key. The iLuv designers have even managed to shoehorn in a row of very useful 'F' keys. The iPad is held securely in position for viewing and typing by a retractable kick-stand.

Pudgy-fingered typists will need to do some readjusting as the keyboard dimensions are obviously limited by the size of the iPad. Nonetheless, this particular typist found that a few sessions were enough to eliminate most of the errors caused by the compact layout.

No question, this iLuv product is very good value for money – £61 buys you a sturdy, attractive case, a well-featured responsive keyboard and a USB cable. If you’ve got any sort of touch-typing proficiency it also buys you greater productivity and considerably less chance of any RSI related injury.

Ratings (out of 5) 
Fitness for purpose   5
Ease of use              5
Features                   5
Quality                      4
Value for money       5

iLuv Professional Case with Bluetooth Keyboard   

iPad case with integrated keyboard, £60.99p from Amazon 


iLuv USB chargerCharging worries sorted for £15The iLuv USB plug is a plug is a plug is a plug. Literally. This clever little modular device incorporates three USB sockets, two rated at 500ma, one at 1000ma (for fast charging an iPad).

With interchangeable connections for UK, European and North American power sockets this multi-socket unit is an undoubted boon for travellers dependent on USB connectivity.

If, for instance, you have an iPad with the aforementioned iLuv keyboard you'll already need to charge up two USB devices; throw in a mobile phone and those three USB sockets are taken.

At just over £15 the iLUV USB plug is an ideal travel, or indeed home, companion, its modular design making it easy to stash away for field trip or for classroom use.

Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose  5
Ease of use             5
Features                  4
Quality                     5
Value for money      5

iLuv Triple USB AC Charger Travel Pack with Multi-socket Adaptor  

USB charging pack for mobile technology users. Consists os basic unit with adaptors for different countries, price around £15 from Amazon