The iPad Lock: Guard Your Tablet

One challenge of mobile computing is securing devices against theft. For smartphones and media players like an iPod, the solution is usually pretty simple, keep the device on you at all times. For notebook computers (particularly large models, which are often also more expensive), that may not be an option - traveling you may need to leave in a hotel room; working in a coffee shop or remote office, you may need to leave it to go to the bathroom, order more coffee, or go to a meeting; or students may need some extra security in a dorm room or school/college library.

The solution to these challenges has been Kensington style locks, where a special locking slot is built into the device allowing it be secured with a strong and secure locking cable to furniture or various other impossible or hard to move fixtures. Most notebooks (and even some desktops like Apple's iMac) have an appropriate locking slot and good quality cable locks can often be bought in electronics stores, big box retailers, and airport gift shops for $20 - $50.

Of course, if you're traveling, most hotel rooms offer in-room safes or a sate deposit box feature at the front desk as well.

But, what about the latest entry into the mobile computing arena: the tablet? Most tablets don't include a locking slot. What's to keep them secure in any number of mobile situations?

The easy answer is always keep them with you like you would a smartphone. That's generally easier to do than with a notebook, particularly if you have a Galaxy Tab or similar 7" tablet that can easily fit in a pocket. But what about the iPad and tablets of a similar form factor?

Maclocks.com (a division of the CompuLocks Group) has a possible solution - the iPad Lock, a hard plastic security case that fits around the iPad and is sealed together with a standard locking cable. The company offers the case by itself for $39.95 and bundled with a cable lock for $64.95. The company claims that it is impossible to remove the case (and thus the cable lock and anything it's attached to) without severely damaging the iPad). Although it isn't as attractive as some iPad cases, it certainly does appear to be an effective and obvious locking method that would discourage anyone from trying to steal an iPad.

It isn't clear whether the company will develop similar products for other tablets. With the variation in form between all tablets on the market, its likely that only the most popular tablets will be worth the engineering investment. So, it isn't a stretch to consider them offering an option for the Galaxy Tab next (and possibly the Cisco Cius and RIM's PlayBook sometime next year or in 2012), although with a smaller form factor, there may not be as great a market.

While locking cases may not appeal to everyone (or be needed by everyone), they could certainly be advantageous for some users. Beyond individuals, they could appeal to schools and organizations using tablets in kiosk fashion where the public can take surveys or enter information (such as a doctor's office or health clinic).

What's your take? Is this an accessory worth considering? How do you secure your mobile devices in travel or public use situations? Let us know in the comments.

Ryan Faas writes about personal technology for ITworld. Learn more about Faas' published works and training and consulting services at www.ryanfaas.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanfaas.

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