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Padcaster iPad case: add DSLR glass to your tablet's camera (hands-on)

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We got to check out the Padcaster, a new device that lets you attach lenses and accessories to your iPad.

Padcaster hands-on
Padcaster hands-on

The iPad's a great tool for editing and sharing video, and the new model even has an excellent camera, but without multiple lenses, or a tripod mount it's not as usable or versatile as dedicated video cameras. The Padcaster aims to change that: it's a sturdy case that lets you connect your tablet to a tripod and a lens, and turn it into a one-step solution for recording, editing, and sharing video. The $199 device was just announced this week at NAB, and we got a chance to test out one of the prototypes.

The case is big, to be sure, with a soft red inside and a hard aluminum shell — you're not going to want to leave your iPad in the Padcaster all the time. It's strong, though, and held the iPad in securely. Around the edges of the camera are a handful of thread holes and openings, so you can attach the device to a tripod, add a flash or an accessory, or connect an external mic. Using the also-new $79.99 Lenscaster mount, Padcaster creator Josh Apter mounted a Carl Zeiss lens on the camera so he could get film-like focusing range and depth of field.

All said and done, it makes for a pretty great solution for shooting quick video. You can record video, edit in your favorite app (Apter mentioned iMovie and Filmic Pro are his favorites), and then quickly share and upload the final product. We didn't get to test the prototype much ourselves, but the video we saw from the Padcaster rig was impressive — maybe not DSLR-quality, but still far better than we expected.

The Padcaster is on sale now, but get in quickly if you're interested: Apter told us that one day after announcing the product, it's already back-ordered for eight weeks. The company will also be making Padcaster models for iPhones, as well as other tablets.