Many bemoaned the lack of a USB port when the iPad was announced, with many of those naysayers claiming it to be a reason not to buy the device at all.
The rest of the world clearly wasn’t listening, however, as people continue to buy Apple’s tablet in their droves.
While a built-in USB port still isn’t available on the iPad, consumers do have the option to buy the £25 iPad Camera Connection Kit from Apple in order to connect their camera or SD card and copy photos.
What they might not know, however, is that there are a number of other USB devices that will quite happily plug in to the attachment and play nicely with your iPad.
While Apple is yet to officially recognise uses for the Camera Connection Kit outside of photo import, many are simply using a trial and error process to see what works and what doesn’t.
Power is the main concern when attempting to use a USB peripheral in conjunction with the iPad.
When a device does connect via USB, there’s little in the way of confirmation, however if your USB device wants more juice than the iPad’s prepared to give, a warning message will appear.
So what exactly can you plug into your iPad via the Camera Connection Kit? Below are a selection of devices you might want to try that can add some real worth to a single-purpose adaptor that was a tad overpriced to begin with.
Older USB keyboards like the ones that shipped with early iMac and PowerMac computers should be fine. More recent models with backlit keys might cause more trouble.
Should your USB keyboard work, you’ll only know by opening an app such as Mail and trying to type.
USB headsets, even those with a built-in microphone should work just fine for listening to music and recording audio.
In our tests, a Plantronics USB headset and mic worked just fine. Perfect for use with GarageBand, dictation apps or making Skype calls.
Wireless headsets should also work by connecting the USB dongle to your iPad.
Certain USB mics work nicely with the iPad via the Camera Connection Kit including a Samson model we tested as well as USB offerings from Blue.
Power can play a major role here but you can get some MIDI keyboards to work as an external controller for GarageBand.
More portable, single-octave MIDI keyboards are more likely to work over larger models, especially those that include audio interfaces.
If you attach the standard dock connector cable to the Camera Connection kit and the other end to your iPhone you can quickly import images and video to your iPad.
The iPad’s Photos app will open allowing you to select which files you wish to import.
Possibly the most dubious connection is a USB hard drive.
Any drive you wish to use should require no power or provide its own and you will need to fool your iPad into thinking the drive is a camera by formatting it in FAT or FAT32 formats.
If this works, you should be able to store iPad-compatible media on the drive, basically any media that works in iTunes.
To avoid the power issue, you could also use an SD card for additional storage through the Camera Connection Kit’s second adapter.