Lightning ▪ April 29

Keyboards are important — so important that many people won’t “work” on their iPads without real keys to type on. No one complained when desktop mice gave way to laptop trackpads, or when trackpads evolved into tablet touchscreens, but the switch from physical to virtual keyboards has been met with plenty of resistance… specifically because virtual keyboards offer no resistance. There’s something about the responsive, up and down movement of actual keys, known as “travel,” that people clearly prefer over tapping on completely flat glass.

I’ve tested a lot of keyboards, and since I rely upon them professionally every day, I have some strong opinions as to the best options for different types of Mac and iPad users. You might be surprised by my advice, as it bucks a couple of Apple’s trends (“smaller!” “thinner!”), but if you’re like me, you’ll be a much happier typist if you “think different” on this topic than the folks in Cupertino…

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Lightning ▪ April 28

The new USB-C port on Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook (review) is both a gift and a curse. If you frequently connect legacy USB peripherals to your notebook, then you’ll have to deal with using an adapter between your old gear and your new laptop each time (and should possibly consider another machine for now). The move from Apple’s proprietary MagSafe 2 connection to the new industry standard USB Type C port for charging, however, opens up the door to third-party power adapters and portable battery packs.

During my initial MacBook evaluation, I verified this possibility with a 13,000mAh portable battery pack I had on hand. Vinsic’s 20,000mAh ultra slim power bank is a giant battery that offers even more juice for your iPhone, iPad, or 12-inch MacBook with a sleek design and an LED status indicator…

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Lightning ▪ April 20

Traveling with any MacBook is a lot easier today than it was five or ten years ago. Apple’s latest laptops consume much less space than their predecessors, and last much longer when they’re in active use. Whether it’s on a seat-back tray or resting in your lap, your MacBook can deliver quite a few hours of productive work time, video viewing, or even gameplay without assistance. But it can do even more if you bring the right accessories along.

My goal is to help you choose the best items to carry with you on the road — the type of items I’ve spent years testing. The picks below are highly practical and focused to make good use of space and address real-world concerns that many travelers have. Read on!

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Lightning ▪ March 27

It’s been a while since we heard rumors that a new iPad model would sport dual connectors for hooking it up to a computer or accessories, but a set of photos circulating online is bringing that idea back to the forefront.

The photos claim to depict the back of Apple’s upcoming “iPad Pro,” a larger 12.9-inch model of its existing tablet. Not a whole lot of new details are visible in the photos, but a spare Lightning port can be spied on the side of the device. Typically the Lightning port is located on the bottom edge.

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Lightning ▪ March 20

SAMSUNG CSC

There are now several companies selling USB thumb drives for iPhone and iPad since the first ones with built-in Lightning connectors debuted late last year. By connecting a small and lightweight thumb drive directly to your iOS device, you can avoid limitations of onboard storage and cloud services and instead store and stream media like music, video, and photos using the drive’s additional storage.

A few things to consider when searching for the right Lightning drive: some have a battery that requires charging, companion apps for managing and streaming content from an iOS device vary in quality, and I found some have designs that make using the drives and your iOS device at the same time easier than others. Lastly, pricing varies quite a bit based on the the options below with drives ranging from 8GB to 256GB and other options offering bring-your-own storage using a micro SD card slot. expand full story

When the first iPhone 6 battery cases hit the market late last year, one 9to5Mac reader commented repeatedly that he was holding out for something with a female Lightning port on the bottom, rather than the currently ubiquitous alternative, micro-USB. Why would anyone care? Well, if an accessory can recharge using Lightning, the same charging cable you get with any iPhone can be used with its accessories, too. That means you’ll have one less cable to carry around, a convenience that inspired Apple late last year to offer accessory developers access to female Lightning connectors.

The rollout has been slow: there’s still no Apple-authorized accessory with a Lightning port, since Apple was still only previewing the feature early this year. But a developer called Aukey decided not to wait for Apple’s seal of approval. As of this week, it’s selling what it claims is “the first and the only portable charger in the world with Apple Lightning input port,” the PB-N30 3600mAh External Battery Charger ($36, sold on Amazon for $15). Given the low price, it’s no surprise that there are a bunch of caveats to consider, but if you’ve been jonesing for a battery with a Lightning port, now you have an option.

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