Holiday 2012: Gifts and Gadgets for Your Mac Computer or MacBook
Many students, artists and creative professionals have a strong taste for everything Apple. The Mac computer brand is more a lifestyle than a mere product. People use Mac computers because they are configured to perform in a manner that enhances creativity, but it’d be ignoring reality to say that a Mac computer doesn’t also suggest something about us as users who have a passion for Apple and Mac that goes way beyond fondness or trendiness. It’s more of an obsession. This kind of brand loyalty is guaranteed to spawn a whole industry of third-party equipment manufacturers. So let’s take a look at some of the most effective, clever, unique and useful MacBook and Mac computer accessories for the 2012 holiday season.
Cool Stands (Literally)
If you use your MacBook as much at home as you do while on the move, then a stand might be a good idea. The Rain Design mStand Laptop Stand resembles the iconic aluminum stand on the today’s iMac computers. It’s designed to match the modern aesthetic of your Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro, although the stand is suitable for a variety of laptops. The mStand raises the height of your MacBook to the same height of an external display, which keeps you comfortable even when working for hours at a time.
Another option for Mac aficionados are the Bluelounge Cool Feet, which attach to the bottom of your MacBook. These unique little “feet” attach directly to the bottom of your MacBook or iPad, creating a more ergonomic typing angle. Each Cool Feet package includes two tall feet and two short feet for customization in three different angles and positions. Besides creating a benign typing surface, the Cool Feet help keep your computer cool as well, by allowing a constant airflow to pass under and over your MacBook. The Cool Feet are removable, relying only on suction to adhere to the smooth aluminum bottom of your MacBook.
Another cooling option that also functions as an ergonomic typing stand is the Moshi Zefỳr 2. The Zefỳr 2 is a high-efficiency MacBook cooler that is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum to match the MacBook’s modern appeal. It features twin convection funnels, which maximize heat dissipation in order to prevent overheating. The Zefỳr 2’s integrated fans are powered via USB and they feature three speed levels. Plus, the device folds for better portability. The Zefỳr 2 can accommodate 13-, 15- and 17-inch MacBook models, and the way it positions your MacBook at an elevated angle creates more satisfactory ergonomics.
If you are a meticulous organizer who feels most at ease when your desk is free of clutter, then the Twelve South BookArc is definitely worth considering. There’s one specifically designed for the MacBook Air and for the iPad/iPad2. The BookArc keeps your portable computer up off your desk, resting vertically in the custom stand. It features soft silicone inserts that are molded to wrap gently, but snugly, around your MacBook. The BookArc helps you stay organized with a clean, calm, maximized workspace.
Plus, for those of you that don’t know, you can still work with your MacBook closed if it’s connected to an external monitor. This will boost your performance too, since a closed MacBook can dedicate 100% of its video memory to the external display, rather than splitting it between the laptop screen and the external monitor. This should please Mac users who work in Aperture and Photoshop. The BookArc also features two integrated cable-management systems underneath the arched stand, which further reduce desktop clutter. The BookArc Air can support an 11- or 13-inch MacBook Air.
Tools for Typing
Typing continuously for long stretches on your Mac can eventually cause fatigue and discomfort. Fortunately, there are a couple of inexpensive solutions designed to combat typing strain disorders. One remedy is the Rain Design mRest Gel Wrist Rest and Mouse Pad. The mRest includes a gel-filled wrist rest wrapped in Lycra fabric. It also includes a matching mouse pad. Both pads feature a skid-resistant elastomer base, as well as an aluminum coloring that will match your Mac computer perfectly. The mRest reduces fatigue on your wrists and it’s suitable for both left- and right-handed users. Plus, the matching mouse pad has a precision optical surface, which provides a smooth and responsive plane over which your mouse can glide.
With a thin 1/3-inch thick profile and small carbon footprint, the Logitech K750 Wireless Solar Keyboard is another unique Mac accessory. It’s compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 or later. This keyboard is both wireless and solar powered. The K750’s silver finish matches the Mac aesthetic perfectly. The keyboard can be powered by any light source—indoor or outdoor, and a full charge lasts for at least three months. It features a familiar Mac layout, 2.4 GHz long-range wireless connectivity and concave key cap design for faster and quieter typing.
Apple’s Magic Touch
Anyone looking for a more intuitive way to interact with their Mac computer should check out the Apple Magic Trackpad. This is essentially a mouse trackpad for Mac desktop users. If you prefer the convenience a touch trackpad offers over the standard Mac mouse, then the Magic Trackpad is made for you. It uses the same Multi-Touch technology as the trackpad on a MacBook Pro. And it supports a full set of gestures, which provide a whole new way to interact with your Mac desktop computer. The Magic Trackpad connects to your Mac via Bluetooth wireless technology and you can use it in place of—or in conjunction with—your mouse. It works with the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air as well.
Apple’s Magic Mouse is another popular Mac accessory. The Magic Mouse uses the same Multi-Touch technology found on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Although this ingenious mouse comes standard with every new iMac, you can also add it to any Mac computer with Bluetooth wireless technology. The Magic Mouse features a low-profile design with a modern, seamless top shell with an integrated Multi-Touch surface for scrolling, swiping and gesturing. It also uses a powerful laser tracking engine, which is more responsive on more surfaces than optical tracking mice. This means you can use it almost anywhere without needing a mouse pad.
If desktop space is a valuable commodity in your home office, then you should consider an Apple Wireless Keyboard. It’s a compact, low-profile wireless keyboard. It uses Bluetooth technology to sync to your Mac computer, which makes the keyboard compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled Mac. You can use it anywhere in range of your computer. The Wireless Keyboard also eliminates unnecessary clutter from around your desk. Apple claims that the Wireless Keyboard takes up 24% less space on your desk than a typical computer keyboard. Plus, the low-profile aluminum construction will match your Mac computer perfectly. The keyboard is powered by two AA batteries and it also features several one-touch function keys. You can even fuse an Apple Magic Trackpad and an Apple Wireless Keyboard together using the clever Twelve South MagicWand.
Mobee Technology’s Magic Power
Mobee Technology offers a few Mac-specific charging accessories. The Magic Charger provides a wireless inductive charger for your Apple Magic Mouse. It eliminates the hassle that comes with periodic battery changing. The Magic Charger plugs into a USB port, and all you do is rest the Magic Mouse on the surface of the charger with the included Mobee rechargeable battery pack installed. In about five hours your Magic Mouse battery is charged for approximately six days.
The Mobee Technology Magic Bar provides wireless inductive charging for your Apple Wireless Keyboard or Magic Trackpad. All you have to do is replace the AA batteries with Mobee’s rechargeable battery cylinder (included) and then just slide the keyboard or trackpad into the charger base station to charge. It provides full inductive power that lasts up to 10 days. And, the slim, low-profile design limits desktop clutter.
Who knew that even cables could have accessories? From cable-management solutions to adapters, there are plenty of Mac-related cable accessories available. If your cluttered desk is overrun with loose, tangled cords and cables, then an effective, aesthetically pleasing cable-management system may be just what you need to restore that zen-like tranquility to your workspace. There are a couple of affordable options that can help you keep your desk organized and as cable-free as possible. Plus, there are a handful of adapters that will help you make the right connection.
The Bluelounge CableDrops come in a set of six muted-color multi-purpose cable clips. They feature an adhesive base that will stick to your desk surface or on the side of your desk. Each CableDrop can support one cable. Basically, when you’re done using a charging or peripheral cable, you can secure the cable by snapping it into the CableDrop. This will keep your cables from falling off your desk and becoming disorganized.
Bluelounge also makes the CableBox, which can go under or on your desk. You can place your power strip or surge protector inside the CableBox without unplugging anything. Then, stow all excess cables inside the CableBox and close the lid. It features cable outlets on either side and the box should fit almost every size of power strip.
There are several adapters that are designed specifically for Mac users as well. Two of the most popular are the Moshi Mini Display Port to HDMI Adapter with Audio and the Xcellon Mini Display Port to HDMI Adapter with Audio. They both are designed so you can plug your Mac computer or MacBook into your HDTV via the HDMI port, which supports both digital video and audio. Older Mac computers featured Mini Display Ports that did not carry audio, so Kanex makes the iAdapt 20 Mini Display Port to HDMI Adapter that solves this issue.
Another common adapter is for VGA digital video connectivity and the Apple Mini Display Port to VGA Display Adapter works well. PNY Technologies also makes the same adapter. These are generally for connecting to older monitors with a VGA port. You can connect digital DVI-D monitors to your Mac with the Apple Mini DisplayPort to DVI-D Adapter.
Apple has been very successful at combining technology and creative design, so if you choose to use external speakers with your Mac computer, you’ll want to make sure that the same attention to innovative industrial design is taken with such a prominent accessory. UltraLink’s UCube Compact USB Digital Speakers are visually compelling and acoustically impressive. They feature all-USB signal and power, which means limited cable-clutter and a quality digital audio signal via USB. The minimalistic design and aluminum legs will match any Mac computer. And the efficient digital signal processing (DSP) amplifier supports 30-watts RMS equivalent power output. The speakers also feature a BMR Balanced Mode Radiator, which is a full-range, flat-diaphragm driver that supports ultra-wide 170-degree listening angles.
Another striking set of speakers is the Harmon Kardon GLA-55 Premium Speaker System. These futuristic computer speakers will definitely look at home next to your Mac computer. The system features a cut glass design with two clear speakers that resemble icicles more than an electronic appliance. Plus, the 3.5mm connector will work with any other portable audio devices including your iPhone and iPad. Each speaker is equipped with a CMMD (Ceramic Metal Matrix Diaphragm) Lite dome tweeter and a specially engineered 3-inch Atlas aluminum-cone woofer that provides rich, accurate bass response. Plus, the system supports 112-Watts of digital amplification (56-Watts per channel) and DSP (digital signal processing) equalization.
Any article mentioning cutting-edge computer speakers would be remiss not to mention a pair of Bose speakers, specifically their Companion 20 Multimedia Speaker System. This compact speaker system features proprietary TrueSpace stereo digital processing, which creates a wide two-channel soundstage that has been engineered specifically for listening to music while sitting at your computer. The speakers also feature a unique control pod that’s equipped with a rotational volume control, single-touch mute button, headphone jack and a connection for a second audio source like your iPhone, iPod, iPad, or any other portable audio device.
There’s no denying that there are literally dozens of MacBook case manufacturers making hundreds of MacBook cases. This section will look at a handful of cases from a few different manufacturers.
The Moshi iGlaze Air is available in three colors for both the 13-inch and 11-inch MacBook Air. The iGlaze Air is an ultra-thin and lightweight protective cover. It was designed with a specialized coating that matches the MacBook Air’s elegance. The iGlaze Air also has rubber feet to prevent slipping and an unobstructed heat vent for maximum heat dissipation. The case affords access to all ports including the MagSafe connector. It’s also 100% compatible with Moshi’s line of protective MacBook Air accessories.
If you prefer a sleeve instead of cover, then the Moshi Muse might be more to your liking. The Muse Sleeve is available for the 11-inch MacBook Air or any 13-inch MacBook. The Muse features a SlipGrip design, suede-like exterior, microfiber interior and an exterior storage pouch. It’s zipperless and won’t damage the finish of your MacBook.
The last Moshi option is the Codex 13 Shell Case for 13-inch MacBooks and MacBook Pros. The Codex 13 is designed to be “checkpoint friendly” when going through airport security. You can leave your MacBook safely tucked away in the case. It also has 360° Viscotex cushioning that protects against impacts. The inner lining is soft microfiber and the corner pads elevate your computer for better ventilation. The case also features a proprietary zipper design that allows for complete MacBook use from inside the case.
Although known more as a luggage manufacturer, Samsonite offers a surprising number of notebook bags and cases that are both functional and stylish. The Colombian Leather Laptop Case is a vintage-looking leather bag with antique brass hardware. It can accommodate up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro. Similar in size, but with a more refined leather finish, is the Colombian Leather Flapover Briefcase. The rolling Xenon Spinner Mobile Office Case can also carry up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro. It has multiple pockets for accessories and a retractable handle. Samsonite also offers the, which features a 15-inch laptop compartment and several accessory pockets. The Xenon 2 is made from ballistic polyester and it even provides an internal iPad or tablet sleeve. Samsonite also offers stylish women’s laptop handbags and totes. The Camelot Laptop Tote Case features a microfiber exterior, classic tote handles and a leather buckle. It can hold up to a 16-inch notebook. The water-resistant Fashion Laptop Tote can hold your 15-inch MacBook. It’s made from lightweight nylon and it’s accented with brushed-nickel hardware. If you’re feeling flamboyant, you could try one of the colorful Jordyn Totes. They can carry your 15-inch MacBook and accessories. Plus, they feature water-resistant nylon with brushed-nickel hardware. They’re available in amethyst, ruby red and black.
CaseCrown has a handful of MacBook cases including the clear MacBook Pro 13" Clip On Case, the black 11" Notebook Case and the clear 11" Notebook Case for MacBook Air. The Clip On Case is a two piece hard case that clips on to your 13-inch MacBook Pro. It provides clear protection that doesn’t take away from the Mac aesthetic. It’s made of polycarbonate and features precut holes for ventilation. The 11” Notebook Cases fit the 11-inch MacBook Air. They are also two-piece polycarbonate clip-on cases with ventilation and full access to MacBook functions. They have non-slip rubber feet as well.
Incase Design Corp
Incase has essentially created a company dedicated to accessorizing your technology, so obviously they have a large MacBook case and cover catalog. Two of their most basic, yet effective cases are the 15-inch Hardshell Case and the 13-inch Hardshell Case for your MacBook Pro. They also offer a 13-inch Perforated Hardshell Case for your MacBook Pro as well. The perforated model allows for better ventilation. All three feature injection-molded construction, precision cutouts for port access and non-slip rubber feet.
Incase also offers sleeves and bags for the MacBook, including the Heathered Shoulder Bag for your 15-inch MacBook Pro. It has a quilted interior lining with a fully padded computer compartment for a 15-inch MacBook Pro. The exterior features a sophisticated woven pattern. The bag also has several accessory pockets, an iPad sleeve and a magazine slip pocket. If you’re looking for a simple, but protective sleeve in which to put your MacBook, then the denim Terra Sleeve for your 15-inch MacBook Pro or the gray Terra Sleeve for your 11-inch MacBook Air is the way to go. They feature slim profiles and strong YKK vision zippers.
A case for your MacBook is one thing, but the Twelve South BookBook Case is another thing entirely. The BookBook Case is a hardback leather case for your 13- or 15-inch MacBook Pro that’s designed to accurately resemble a vintage leather book. The BookBook’s hardback cover and spine protect your MacBook from scratches and impacts, while the discreet case concept disguises your MacBook as a vintage book. You could put it on a book shelf in your office along with some similar-looking books and no one would ever know there was an expensive electronic device hidden inside; it’s that realistic. The BookBook Case does everything a normal MacBook case does and whole lot more. Plus, it’s more interesting aesthetically than most cases—and more fun too. The BookBook is available in classic black or vibrant red colors.
Microsoft Office for Mac
Even Apple concedes when it comes to Microsoft Office, which is why Microsoft makes Office for Mac. It offers all the same programs in the regular Windows Office, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and more. It’s also available in different editions as well.
The latest version includes new features like Office Web Apps, Coauthoring, a ribbon and toolbar for quick function access, a Template Gallery, photo editing options, a full screen view, slide show broadcasting and more.
Mac Compatible External Hard Drives
Creative professionals, gamers, business owners and anyone else who requires more storage than their Mac computer offers might consider one of these external hard drives. If you have a new Mac with USB 3.0 connectivity, then the Western Digital 1TB My Passport USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive is a good option. It supports ultra-fast 5 Gbps transfer rates and has a considerable 1TB capacity. It’s also backwards compatible with USB 2.0 as well. However, it does require reformatting for your Mac computer. If you have a Mac with USB 2.0, Western Digital also makes a 1TB My Passport USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive that comes formatted for Mac, right out of the box.
Another portable hard drive that’s compatible with both Windows and Mac is the G-Technology 750GB G-Drive. It’s a compact portable hard drive that features a 750GB 7200 rpm hard drive. The bus-powered drive supports multiple interfaces including USB 2.0, FireWire 800 and FireWire 400. One small perk regarding this drive is that it ships with all the required cables, so no matter which interface you use, you’re ready to go as soon as you open the box. One thing to note before buying a portable hard drive is the drive’s system requirements. For that information, you can visit the B&H website and check the hard drive specifications.
Link it All with Apple’s AirPort Express and Time Capsule
If you’re looking for a wireless router for your Mac device, and you’d prefer it to be a nearly plug-and-play setup process, then the Apple AirPort Express is the router for you. The AirPort Express will get your new Wi-Fi network up and running in no time at all—and with considerably less effort and stress. The reason for this is the setup assistant that’s built right into iOS, as well as AirPort Utility for OS X. Just plug it in and follow the commands.
The AirPort Express features simultaneous dual-band 802.11n support for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. It also features Ethernet LAN, WAN and a USB port, and an analog/optical audio jack. The AirPort Express will even allow you to play iTunes music wirelessly over your speakers. In fact, you might consider trying some AirPlay-enabled speakers, which will facilitate wireless music streaming from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to any third-party AirPlay speakers with no cable or dock necessary. The AirPort Express supports wireless network printing as well. Once the network is set up, you’ll be able to manage and monitor the AirPort Utility from your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or Mac computer.
Apple’s Time Capsule is another convenient, multi-use accessory for Mac computers. It features either 2TB or 3TB of storage, as well as a full-featured simultaneous dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi router. It provides wireless connectivity to Time Machine in OS X and it automatically backs up all your work and files. In addition, if you have multiple Mac computers in your house or office, the Time Capsule will back up files for each Mac running OS X Leopard or later in your wireless network. It’s also equipped with three Gigabit Ethernet jacks and a USB port for connecting a USB printer or USB external hard drive.
No matter which Mac computer or MacBook you own, there are bound to be dozens of accessories available. It’d be impossible to list them all in a single article. If you’re interested in searching for more accessories for the 2012 holiday season, be sure to check out the B&H website for more options and more detailed descriptions.