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The Stuff You’re Gonna Need If You Want to Replace Your Laptop With an iPad

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

The iPad is one of the best tablets on the market, but for many people, it still can’t replace a laptop. It’s a device that sits on the fringes: too large to be a phone, too small to be a dedicated computer. But Apple has spent the last few years building and redesigning the way we think about the iPad — with a more intuitive operating system that in some ways reflects the laptops of today. The latest iPads are fast. And now with a more robust file-management system, these laptop-like devices can be used for casual, everyday use as well as serious work. If you want to surf the internet, doomscrool your way through Twitter, watch videos while you procrastinate, the iPad has that in spades. But we wanted to know how several tech experts make their iPad more versatile, more work-focused. Below, the best accessories for transforming your iPad into a note-taking powerhouse.

Cases

The Combo Touch comes with a trackpad, backlit keys, and an adjustable kickstand. One of the case’s best features are the “four modes,” which are essentially different viewing angles. There’s one for sketching, typing, watching videos, and reading. It’s sturdy, and there’s a convenient nook to store your Apple Pencil, says Jason Snell, host of the tech podcast Upgrade. The Combo Touch turns the iPad into an easy-to-use laptop shape-shifter. The keyboard and trackpad are connected to the iPad with smart connector technology. It essentially powers the Combo Touch case, which makes it a convenient accessory for your iPad.

“I really wanted a keyboard that was easy to carry around with my iPad,” says illustrator Sadie Lewandowski, who bought the smart keyboard case a year ago. “What better way to have a keyboard than on the case itself?” Whenever Lewandowski is in research mode or typing up documents, “I pull out the keyboard so I can quickly type, and when it’s time to draw, I tuck away the keyboard flap behind the screen, which deactivates the keys so there are no accidental button presses.” Dieter Bohn, executive editor at our sister site the Verge, says, “It’s a well-made, beautiful keyboard case that’s nice to type on and makes lots of work on the iPad much more convenient — or at least familiar.”

The Slim Folio Pro has a backlit keyboard, Bluetooth connectivity, and three adjustable stand positions. It also has iPad shortcut buttons that can help you adjust the brightness, volume, skip and rewind music, and check your battery level. The only downside of the Logitech Slim Folio is the lack of a trackpad.

Monitors

“The big promise of USB-C for monitors appears to be finally arriving,” writes the Verge senior editor Tom Warren in his review of the Lenovo M14. You can connect your iPad to this portable monitor and have a side-by-side display. It’s a few inches larger than a standard iPad with a 14-inch display, weighs only 1.3 pounds, and comes with a protective cover. There’s no battery, Warren notes, which “means your laptop, tablet, or even phone is tasked with powering the display.” Warren says the portable is sturdy, and it even has an additional stand at the base, which can be used to raise the height of the monitor.

The 15.6-inch, 1080p Auzai weighs 1.41 pounds, is about as thin as a pencil, and has multiple USB-C ports, which means it can connect to your iPad or another device with its additional mini-HDMI port. Eric Vasquez is a Twitch streamer and TikToker and says he loves his Auzai monitor because it’s lightweight and takes up very little space on his desk. He says the cover provides protection and can also be folded up and used as a stand. Caleb Korthals of HardwareHelpPCs also owns one. “I’ve had it for a number of months now. Instead of making smaller windows for multitasking, you can just drag a window over to your second monitor,” he says. “I can play a game and watch a YouTube video at the same time.”

Keyboard

The Logitech K780 is perfect for the iPad because it has a dedicated stand built in. Over the last year and a half, I’ve placed my iPad into the tiny gutter that protrudes out of the K780 and worked on docs, watched videos, and talked over Zoom. It also has a dedicated number pad and can connect to up to three devices. The keys are responsive and comfortable. It’s also lightweight, so it’s easy to move around the house.

If you’re looking for a keyboard with a more tactile, click-clacky response, then you may like this mechanical keyboard from Keychron. It has Bluetooth connectivity, so it can easily connect to your iPad, and its battery lasts for over a week. “Yes, it’s kind of loud, but … I am never going back,” says James Lynch, a Strategist contributor who became a mechanical keyboard enthusiast after trying the Keychron K2. “As a writer, my job involves a lot of typing, and I feel like I finally have the right tool for that job.”

Accessories

$129

The Apple Pencil is one of the most unique things about the iPad, and it’s especially useful for note taking. If you’re listening to a lecture or just got out of a meeting, you can frantically jot down whatever notes you have. Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo recommended the first generation Apple Pencil back in 2018 for its convenient design, which helped her streamline her illustrative work. The Apple Pencil pairs with the iPad through a smart connector, so you can easily charge it and store it via the iPad’s magnetic attachment. Snell also recommends the Pencil for its improved note-taking abilities and functions.

The Satechi Stand Hub attempts to turn your iPad into a dedicated workstation with a single USB-C cable. You plug it into your iPad, and suddenly your iPad has six unique ports. An HDMI port with 4K support, a USB-A port, a USB-C port, an audio port for your wired headphones, and an SD and micro-SD card slot. It gives you a ton of options and makes your iPad feel like a more robust device. It can be easily stored away with a foldable design, which allows you to conveniently tuck the USB-C wire into the Satechi stand. The one major drawback is that the Satechi stand only has one unique viewing position. It may be suitable for some people, but if you like to draw on your iPad or write notes with the Apple Pencil, the Satechi can feel restrictive. It still has great value for what it provides despite its minor issues.

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The Stuff You’ll Need to Replace Your Laptop With an iPad