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Top tech: iPad improvement - a great keyboard and network app

Top tech: iPad improvement - a great keyboard and network app

One man's relationship with his iPad gets even better

I have written several times about my ongoing love affair with the iPad and, surprise, a wave of iPad-related products has been appearing in the Gibbs Universal Secret Underground Bunker.

While a number of these are, well, meh, there are a few that are truly outstanding. One of these winners is the Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad.

TECH ARGUMENT: iPad vs. Everything else

While finger-based input works fine with the iPad in many situations, when you're trying to take notes in a meeting or editing a document, ease-of-use goes right out of the window with the on-screen keyboard and you long for a real one. The Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad is one of the best solutions I've found.

When you first unpack the keyboard it looks to be just a tray into which you slide your iPad 2 (this product isn't designed for the original iPad) with cutouts for the iPad's power and home buttons, the dock connector, the volume rocker and the rotation lock switch.

But hold the iPad locked into the tray in landscape mode with the home button on the left and push a button on the top edge of the tray and gently lift as you do ... and, voila! A Bluetooth-enabled keyboard unfolds, origami-like, from inside the tray!

This is an incredibly clever design because when folded, the entire package, iPad and keyboard is almost as ergonomic as the "naked" iPad (the keyboard adds just 19.1 ounces to the iPad). Better still, going from pad to keyboard configuration takes just a couple of seconds and you wind up with a full-size keyboard. The design also allows you to use the Apple Magic Cover.

When you "open" the keyboard it automatically connects to the iPad and then disconnects when you close it and there are no batteries! The keyboard is rechargeable using the provided USB charging cable. My only complaint is that the "feel" of the key action is only OK -- the keys are a little stiff and lightweight.

But around an office where you're ducking in and out of meetings, this is a terrific alternative to using a separate, detached keyboard. The only detail missing is a cutout for the camera on the back of the iPad which, given the way this keyboard folds up, is understandable.

Priced at $US129.99 the Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad is a little spendy but it still gets a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

My other outstanding iPad delight this week is a simple but highly useful network tool, Overlook Fing.

The iOS version of Fing (it actually works on all iDevices) is a descendent of Overlook's command line network discovery tool of the same name created for Windows, OS X and Linux. By the way, for you Android users, there's also a version of Fing for Android that is, in effect, the iOS version's big brother with a lot more features.

What I like about the command line version of Fing is that it's fast, flexible, easy to integrate with other applications (it even outputs results in an XML format) and you can install it as a service under Windows.

The iOS version of Fing is slightly different: It has a GUI and a simpler goal -- to scan whatever Wi-Fi network your iDevice is connected to. When you launch Fing it lists the devices it finds, their type, IP address, vendor name and MAC address. The discovery list is saved under the access point's SSID and you can email the findings directly from the app.

For large networks there's a search feature so you can restrict the list to just the entries that match the search string. You can also view details of the access point (subnet, BSSID and SSID) and the ISP (ISP name, geolocation, external IP and external IP name).

Fing is simple, fast, very useful and all versions are free! And, wonder of wonders, they are all also free of ads! W00t! Overlook's Fing gets a rating of 5 out of 5!

Gibbs is in Ventura, Calif. Your comments to gearhead@gibbs.com.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.


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Tags iPadmobilesmartphonestabletswirelessLinuxAndroidNetworkingiosoperating systemssoftwareapplicationstelecommunicationdatacentreWindowsbluetoothhardware systemsconsumer electronicslogitechnon-WindowsMobile OSes

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