While it may be intended as a tool for adding photos to your iPad, the Camera Connection Kit can do more than Apple (s aapl) tells you about. Having had one for the last week or so, I’ve tested what capabilities the kit has, and what secrets are hiding under the white casing.
It’s clear what the main purpose of the Kit is: importing and managing photos and videos from digital cameras. What Apple doesn’t tell you is that you aren’t limited to using an SD card or the USB cable for your camera.
Most of the time, when you buy a MicroSD card, it comes with an adapter that lets you use the MicroSD in an SD card reader. Since part of the Camera Connection Kit is an SD card reader, this means you can, perhaps unsurprisingly, use it to read a MicroSD card as well. This also works with Memory Stick Pro Duo, the card Sony (s sne) uses in its cameras as well as the PSP. All you need is an adapter to change it into an SD card.
The Kit also works great if you have an all-in-one card reader. If you do, you can use it in a USB port to read CompactFlash, MMC, Memory Stick Pro Duo and other types of card as well. One half of the Camera Connection Kit is a USB port, so, although the functionality is undocumented, a USB card reader will work. Reading the card isn’t as fast as when using a card directly in the slot or a USB cable, but it works and doesn’t break the iPad or the memory card, which is always a good thing.
One last thing that Apple does mention, but doesn’t push much, is using the USB slot in the Kit to connect your iPhone to your iPad. Unfortunately, you can’t do anything fancy like transferring apps or tethering, but you can import photos from your iPhone camera roll to your iPad. You can even use the iPhone camera while the devices are connected, and any new photos you take show up directly in the list on your iPad.
If, unlike me, you’re running out of space since your iPad is host to thousands of songs, videos, photos and apps, you can use the Camera Connection Kit to your advantage. Memory cards are fairly cheap nowadays; you can pick up an 8GB SD card for around $20. You can save precious space on your iPad by storing videos, such as TV shows and movies, on an SD card instead of directly on your iPad. When you want to watch them, plug the SD card reader into your iPad, pop in the card, and import the video (you can’t watch directly from the card). When you’re done, delete the video to make room again. The downside is keeping enough space free on your iPad to import the video. However, keeping about 1.5GB free still gives you more free space than you’d have if you had 8GB worth of video on the iPad.
Since the iPad was released, people have been upset that it didn’t have a built-in USB port. Apart from a camera cable, USB keyboard or a headset, what would you plug into it? Probably not much else.
There are some keyboards that don’t work with the iPad; the Apple wired keyboard for one. If you try to use it, an error message will be displayed saying the accessory uses too much power, probably because of the keyboard’s two USB ports. However, a cheap Windows (s msft) keyboard works just fine.
Headsets have the same issue. Some models work; others don’t. While I haven’t been able to test any personally, some users have been able to get them to work and say they work well.
To my knowledge, those are the only accessories that work with the iPad, but let us know in the comments if you’ve found any others that work using the Connection Kit.
Related GigaOM Pro Research: The Case For Removable Media on the iPad