2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

$TBD
June 2014
Peripherals

Sonnet xMac Pro Server

It almost seems a shame to hide the beautiful, tubular body of the Mac Pro. Sonnet’s new xMac Pro Server ($TBD) is slated to ship in June, and that’s exactly what it does. It’s for a good reason, though — based on the company’s earlier xMac mini Server, this hardware turns the tower into a rack-mountable solution, adding expansion options, too.

 

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$349+
Peripherals

Drobo Drobo (Third Generation)

There are so many different external hard drives out there that do the same things. Plug them in to your Mac, and they can hold extra content, or back up your machine using Time Machine. Drobo is, and always has been different. The company has created a line of desktop storage options that use a technology it calls BeyondRAID, allowing you to easily protect your data, and expand the storage capacity as needed. Newest among them is the third generation of the flagship Drobo ($349+), with a lower price and more advanced features.

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$250
Cases

Incase EO Travel Roller Bag

Anyone who takes quick trips knows that having to carry multiple bags—luggage plus something to lug around a computer and iPad—can be a pain. That’s why we can definitely see the appeal of Incase’s EO Travel Roller Bag ($250). The same size as a traditional carry-on bag, it includes dedicated space for your Mac and more.

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$20*
Apps

Peng Sun Lens Blur

Claiming to add a higher quality of blur to photos, Peng Sun’s Lens Blur looks like a pretty cool app. It’s all based around the bokeh effect, which the developer defines as “the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.” Used right, blurry photos can be pretty cool, and this should be an easy way to achieve them.

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Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 1850

Say what you will about its computers and software, Microsoft makes some genuinely nice peripherals. The most recent is Wireless Mobile Mouse 1850 ($15), which may just make a travel mouse for your Mac. No, it’s not quite as fancy as a Magic Mouse, but at such a low price, you can’t expect all the bells and whistles.

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Satechi 4-Port USB 3.0 Premium Aluminum Hub

When we first covered Satechi’s Premium 4 Port Aluminum USB Hub in the middle of 2013, we commented on its great looks, but concluded that we were “hoping Satechi quickly catches up with Apple and releases a USB 3 version of the Hub to match the new Mac lineup.” Well, here we are a number of months later, and the company has done just that. 4-Port USB 3.0 Premium Aluminum Hub ($50) is the natural evolution.

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OWC Mercury Pro 16X External Blu-ray Optical Drive

Only years after the first MacBook Air shipped without an optical drive, there’s now only one computer in Apple’s entire lineup that comes with one built-in, and there are rumors that the classic 13” MacBook Pro is going to be cut sooner rather than later. Of course, there’s the standalone SuperDrive for those who need access to CDs and DVDs, but Apple never resolved its licensing issues with the “bag of hurt” known as Blu-ray. A few companies have taken up the mantle, however, including OWC with its new Mercury Pro External 16X Blu-ray Optical Drive ($168). The new drive promises up to 16X write speeds for DVDs and Blu-rays.

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Free
Apps

Microsoft OneNote

Although Microsoft doesn’t offer all of its OS X software through the Mac App Store—the Microsoft Office suite is conspicuously missing—it does have a handful of titles available for download. Today, that list has grown by one with the addition of OneNote (Free). Long available for iOS (and of course Windows PCs), OneNote is a digital notebook similar to Evernote that allows you to take notes and sync them across various devices using the cloud.

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$100
Cases

Twelve South Rutledge BookBook for MacBook

Twelve South has had a busy few weeks when it comes to updated iDevice accessories; check out its new SurfacePad for iPad mini and Compass 2. Now it’s decided to give the Mac some love with Rutledge BookBook for MacBook ($100). The South Carolina-based company has had versions of its leather, book-inspired MacBook case since 2010, and those initial versions can still be had for $80. Rutledge is an aesthetic update, and boy, is it pretty. 

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$3
Apps

Charles Aroutiounian AtmoBar

Weather nerds rejoice! Developer Charles Aroutiounian, who we last covered when he released his unofficial Hue app, is back at it again with AtmoBar ($3). The Mac app brings desktop compatibility to Netatmo’s Urban Weather Station, meaning you can see all the glorious details of what’s going on in the world of weather, right from your menu bar.

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$120
Speakers

Kinivo M2 Bluetooth Speaker System

It used to be that computer speakers were simple things, plugging right into the back of your Mac to play your favorite tunes. Now though, we’re seeing many units with enhanced feature sets. Take Kinivo’s M2 Bluetooth Speaker System ($120). Not only are there two satellites and a subwoofer, but Bluetooth and NFC capabilities are built in, too.

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$1,299
Peripherals

LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2

If you’ve been waiting for an insanely fast solid state drive for use in RAW 4K or 3D video editing—and let’s be honest, who hasn’t?—LaCie’s Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 ($1,299) is ready to blaze through your files and wallet at the same time. Palm-sized, beautiful, and promising real-world 1,375MB/second transfer speeds, the drive contains dual RAID 0/1 PCIe SSDs, cooled by a larger but quieter fan than before, with a Mac Pro-matching aluminum enclosure for heat dissipation. While the 1-Terabyte peak capacity is unquestionably low for the price tag, LaCie bets that professional users with thin MacBook Pros will appreciate the size and speed while they’re on the go.

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$200*
Apps

Flixel Photos Cinemagraph Pro

When we initially came across Flixel Photos’ Cinemagraph Pro ($200*) we though it looked neat enough, but the price tag was nuts. Now it’s marked down almost 93% to $15 for a limited time, and at that price level, it certainly demands some attention. The app does something we’ve never seen executed so easily before: it allows you to create “living photos,” pictures with moving parts.

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Free
Apps

Softorino iBetterCharge

One of the key issues hardware and software engineers are dealing with these days is figuring out how to make sure your iPhone is charged when you need it to be. Softorino’s iBetterCharge (Free) is one of the more clever solutions we’ve seen. The simple app lets you know when the batteries in your devices have fallen to a certain level—50%, 20%, 10%, or 5%—so that you can plug it in and juice it up.

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$80-$140
Peripherals

Razer BlackWidow Keyboards

Razer long ago established itself as one of the premier brands in computer gaming hardware. Now it’s really digging down into the nitty-gritty of it all with its most recent BlackWidow keyboard ($80-$140). The external design of the three keyboards in the line goes back years, but it’s what’s inside the most recent editions that’s noteworthy. Razer has come up with its own mechanical switches, and says they make for a better gaming experience.

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