Helpful hardware reviews for iPad, iPhone and Android: Logitech keyboard, Alupen stylus, Lomography scanner and Tinké

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For many tasks, however obscure, there is, as they say, an app for that. But what of the many hardware additions available for iPhone, iPad and Android handsets? Here's a quick guide to the stand-outs.

Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner, £49.99

Do you still have photo prints at home from the days you used 35mm film? Did you carefully save all those negatives, even if they just sit uselessly in drawers? With the scanner you can turn those film strips into digital files.

There’s some work involved here – you need to add or remove a plastic part to position the iPhone camera just right. But it’s fun and gives your old photos new life. The scanner works with Android phones too, thanks to the app available on both platforms.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard for iPad mini, £69.95

When it comes to add-on keyboards for the iPad, Logitech is unbeatable. The Ultrathin Keyboard for the full-size iPad is great: it has an aluminium back that matches the tablet's casing and uses magnets to clever effect, holding it closed like a book or securely in place like a dear little laptop when in use.

This diddy keyboard is nearly as good. The aluminium and the magnets work just as well as on the full-size version but the keys, though matching the superb springiness and travel of the big one, are tricky.

There's no Shift key to the left of the A, so it's easy to make mistakes until you’re used to it. Even so, it's still head and shoulders above the competition, even if it's not quite as intuitive in use.

Alupen Stylus, £21.30

Interacting with your touchscreen can be a faff, especially if your fingers regularly poke the wrong letter on the onscreen virtual keyboard.

The Alupen is a gorgeous alternative to your digits. Styled to look like a chunky crayon but made from highly tactile aluminium, the Alupen feels good in the hand and works well.

Widely used capacitive touchscreens only respond when the weak electrical field on the screen is interrupted by another, like your finger, so most styli don’t work. But this one transmits your natural electricity to the tablet or smartphone screen reliably.

Zensorium Tinké, £77

How's your health? Find out with this well-being plug-in for the iPhone 4 and 4S (an iPhone 5 version is promised).

Download the app, attach the Tinké and the thumbpad glows. Place your thumb on it and keep the pressure steady (which is trickier than it sounds) and it'll start measuring your heartbeat from the tiny changes in your skin pigment.

It'll count your heart rate, calculate how many breaths you're taking each minute, and work out the oxygenation of your blood.

It's not the only one to do this – there's an excellent iPad app from Philips which measures the heart rate and breaths by using the camera to watch your skin colour and shoulder movements – but this is a handy add-on that's quick and fun to use.

 

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