2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

Brother PT-P750W Compact Label Maker with Wireless Enabled Printing

Not everyone needs a label maker, but like any Mac peripheral, if you have to use one, why not choose a model that compliments your computer in terms of ease and elegance? That’s what Brother’s PT-P750W Compact Label Maker with Wireless Enabled Printing ($130) is attempting to do. The biggest advantage to this system is its built-in wireless networking.

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$1,199
Macs

Apple 21.5" iMac (Mid 2014)

We were hoping the rumors of a new, less expensive iMac were true, and we knew there would have to be some cuts made somewhere to lower the price. But there’s no way we expected such a huge gap between the new Mid 2014 version of Apple’s 21.5” iMac ($1,999) and the previous entry level model. While the enclosure, screen, ports, and memory are the same, this new Mac has some weak components inside, at least compared to the step-up model.

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$90-$120
June 2014
Mounts

Henge Docks Vertical Docking Station

Henge Docks is back at it again, this time giving 13” and 15” Retina MacBook Pros some love with its latest Vertical Docking Stations ($90-$120). Available this month, the docks come in your choice of glossy white plastic, or, our preference, Mac-matching brushed metal. Both sizes come with pre-installed passthrough cables, making them ready to go out of the box. Because it stands your Mac up on its edge, the Vertical Docking Station is a good choice for hooking up to an external display on a desk with limited room. Update: Our original preview from May has been updated with new hands-on impressions and photos!

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$150
Cases

Griffin Beamhaus Portfolio for 11" MacBook Air

Leather may just be leather for some people, but for others, premium materials and descriptions are appealing. The latter group is the likely audience for Griffin’s Beamhaus Portfolio for 11” MacBook Air ($150)—the envelope-style sleeve will keep your Mac protected, and look good doing it.

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$2,200-$3,600
Peripherals

G-Technology G-Speed Studio

G-Technology takes design inspirations from Apple’s professional Mac models. For the longest time, the company’s hard drives were encased in perforated metal, resembling the old Power Mac G5 and Mac Pro towers. Now, G-Speed Studio ($2,200-$3,600) has a shiny, black plastic shell, much like the current Mac Pro. The RAID drive comes in three capacities—12TB, 16TB, and 24TB—each filled with four drives. Built with two Thunderbolt 2 ports, G-Speed Studio is capable of speeds up to 700MB/s.

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QuickerTek QCard 2

It’s not always possible, but we appreciate when accessory developers make it easy to enjoy newer hardware technologies inside older Macs. That’s what QuickerTek has done with its new QCard 2 ($149). The card replaces the AirPort card already in your notebook computer, adding 802.11ac capabilities to bring it in line with what Apple is shipping these days. There are only two models that are supported, but that’s better than nothing.

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$189
Furniture

Ikea PS 2014 Secretary

Ikea’s new PS 2014 line is all about taking advantage of small spaces without sacrificing style. Just because you live in a studio apartment doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to have nice things. Secretary ($189) is a perfect example of that ethos. A compact computer desk, it’s functional when you need it, and gets out of the way when you don’t.

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CustomUSB Gigs 2 Go

Just when we thought we’d seen it all when it came to flash drives, CustomUSB has arrived to shake things up a bit. Gigs 2 Go ($25-$70) is a clever new take on USB drives, designed especially for those who want to hand out data. Available in 1GB, 8GB, and 16GB capacities, they come connected in blocks of four, so you get 4GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage across the included drives.

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$30
Apps

DigiDNA DiskAid

If you’ve ever had to do a clean install on your iPhone or iPad, then you might know the pain of losing data in apps that don’t store it in the cloud—saved games, documents, and the like. With DigiDNA’s DiskAid ($30), there’s some salvation. Plug your device into your Mac and the app will scan it, pulling in all the relevant information. Then you can back it up on a per-app basis.

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$40
Apps

The Omni Group OmniFocus 2

For people who are serious about digital organization on the Mac, there’s one name that tends to stand out above the rest: The Omni Group. It’s earned quite the reputation with its suite of software, including the newest title, OmniFocus 2 ($40). Sure, some may consider that expensive for an app, especially considering it’s another $40 for the pro version, but considering the 106 five-star ratings—out of 114 total—it seems to be hitting its mark.

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$220-$500
Peripherals

LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt

Much like Apple, LaCie tends to find a design it likes, and then keeps reiterating it over the years, rather than completely reinventing its products every cycle. Take its Rugged portable hard drives. Last time we saw it updated, it was to the Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series name, but now, there’s Rugged Thunderbolt ($220-$500). It has the same metal body and bright orange rubber border, but there are a few extras built in this time.

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$280
Cases

Hex Marquee Laptop Briefcase

When it comes to bags, there are carriers designed for functionality, and others designed with style in mind. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to find models that fit both categories, such as Hex’s new Marquee Laptop Briefcase ($280). Like most Mac bags these days, it’s made to hold both your laptop and iPad. Constructed from real leather and set up as a briefcase, it’s going to work in many situations where a backpack may not.

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$120-$200
July 2014
Peripherals

Corsair Flash Voyager GTX

High capacity flash drives are nothing new, but Corsair has taken a different approach than many with its Flash Voyager GTX ($120-$200). You can think of it more as an SSD in a smaller format. That’s because it’s been optimized for crazy fast speeds that are above and beyond what you might expect from a standard USB 3.0 drive. Both 128GB and 256GB versions of the drive will be available in July.

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2015
Apps

Apple Photos

There’s not too much information on it yet, but Apple showed off its new Photos app for the Mac at WWDC. No, not iPhoto, but a brand new app that’s coming next year. It takes all the features from the iOS 8 version of the software and brings it to the desktop. It’s based around both viewing and editing, with all your photos stored in the cloud. We’re looking forward to hearing more in the future.

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Free
Fall 2014
Apps

Apple OS X Yosemite

At least year’s WWDC, iOS 7 was the biggest news, but this time, OS X is in the spotlight. Apple has just introduced OS X Yosemite (Free), with a new flattened look that’s similar to but not as dramatically cartoony as iOS. From the dock to Finder windows, icons to typography, there are some serious refinements. And it’s not just looks: new features are baked in too, including Notification Center upgrades, a brand new Spotlight, iCloud Drive, Mail, Safari, and more. And then there’s continuity.

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