2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

$1
Apps

SquidMelon Live Wallpaper

Though it doesn’t make a fantastic first impression, SquidMelon’s Live Wallpaper ($1) is nonetheless a cool demonstration of how your Mac’s desktop background can evolve into something more interesting. Once it’s painlessly installed from the Mac App Store, Live Wallpaper offers you a single, decidedly Windows-like “Modern” backdrop complete with an ever-visible clock and weather forecast at the top of the screen—nice photography and idea, minus great graphic design and layout. But once you open the Preferences menu and manually download 11 other currently-available themes, a process that really should be automated for the user and displayed on first launch, you’ll see this app’s potential: some of the apps feature persistent animation, while others subtly integrate huge clocks or small special effects into beautiful images.

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$80
Available For Preorder
Cases

Maclocks.com MacBook Pro with Retina Display Lock and Security Case Bundle

Maclocks.com has moved nimbly to meet the security needs of new Mac buyers, previously coming up with a locking solution for the lock slot-less MacBook Air—a tethering point on a case that connects to the computer with screws. Presented with the same lock slot-less challenge for the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, Maclocks.com has released a similar solution: the MacBook Pro with Retina Display Lock and Security Case Bundle ($80).

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$48 Stand-Alone/$200+ With SSD
Peripherals

OWC Mercury Aura Envoy

Most of the updates to this year’s revision of the MacBook Air were under the hood, including a long-awaited bump of the maximum storage capacity to a modern notebook-rivaling 512GB. Apple’s upgrade costs a whopping $500 over the 256GB SSD, though, so most users will have to hold off for a while or consider third-party options. OWC has offered its own SSD upgrade kits for a while now, and the prices have fallen dramatically since they were introduced. Better yet, the new Mercury Aura Envoy ($48 Stand-Alone/$200+ With SSD) gives Air users a way to keep using the original drive once it’s been removed from the MacBook’s body.

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$5
Apps

Ayopa Games W.E.L.D.E.R

Not every iOS game leaping to the Mac App Store gets us excited, but when it’s one as good as Ayopa Games’ W.E.L.D.E.R. ($5), we take notice. At only a buck more than the iPad and iPhone universal version, this steampunk-inspired word builder is a smart buy. It’s a lot of fun and you might just learn a thing or two.

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$40-$50
Cases

Booq Viper Sleeve for MacBook Air

When you hear the words “laptop sleeve,” the first thing that comes to mind is likely a padded neoprene case with a zipper. Booq’s taken a different approach with its just-released Viper Sleeve for MacBook Air, offered in versions for both the 11” ($40) and 13” ($50) laptop. Most notable is the unique closure mechanism, coupled with materials that are similarly distinctive.

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Eikon Digital Privacy Manager with TrueSuite Premium for Mac

There’s already great software on the market for storing your passwords—AgileBits’ 1Password immediately comes to mind. But if you want to add an extra layer of security to your Mac—something more than just a string of letters and numbers—check out Eikon’s Digital Privacy Manager with TrueSuite Premium for Mac ($50). This USB fingerprint swiper does a whole lot more than just log you into your computer: it keeps everyone else out.

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$100
Mounts

Kensington SafeDock MacBook Air Security Dock & Keyed Lock

Even though Kensington continues to add new categories to its product lineup, the company’s name is perhaps best known for computer locking solutions. Today it has introduced a few new options for security-conscious Mac users, including the SafeDock MacBook Air Security Dock & Keyed Lock ($100). This dock is available for both the 11” and 13” models, and offers more than just hardware to lock up your Air. Thankfully, one of Kensington’s Clicksafe Locks is included in the price.

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$110
July 2012
Peripherals

G-Technology G-Drive slim

Walk into an Apple Store looking for a backup solution and it’s likely that G-Technology’s G-Drives will pop out at you: Hitachi’s sub-brand has great and well-deserved placement, as the drives are high-quality inside and out. We have a particular affinity for G-Drive slim ($110), a crazy thin option that matches our obsession for the MacBook Air. Starting this July, it’ll be an even better value: along with a handful of other drives from the company, it’s getting updated to support USB 3 just in time to plug into the brand new Macs announced at WWDC.

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Apple AirPort Express (Mid 2012)

We’ve been expecting an updated AirPort Express ($99) for more than a year now; thankfully Apple finally acquiesced. Under the roar of new Macs, Mountain Lion, and iOS 6 at WWDC, it quietly slipped an redesigned version of the router into its stores. Now resembling a white Apple TV, there are also new features previously only seen with the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule, including one outbound Ethernet connector. Thankfully, the Express maintains its audio-out and USB ports, making it a truly valuable tool around the house and on the road. Updated x3: Click through to see even more hands-on + comparison pictures with the Apple TV, as well as testing results!

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$600
Summer 2012
Peripherals

Drobo Drobo Mini

Professionals seeking a redundant storage solution on the go have, up until now, had a rough go of it—either pack along a bulky RAID array and carry the drives separately, or carry multiple external drives and hope that simple mirroring can ensure their data’s integrity. The new Drobo Mini ($600) takes care of all those problems and more.

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$15
Apps

Disney Interactive Brave: The Video Game

Nearly anyone that followed the career of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs also has a soft spot for Pixar and its films, so it should come as no surprise that we’re excited to see its latest film, Brave. Set to coincide with its premiere, Disney Interactive’s Brave: The Video Game ($15) has arrived on the Mac.

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D-Link All-In-One Mobile Companion

Disappointed that the new AirPort Express lost it’s wall wart status in favor of traditional plug? D-Link’s All-In-One Mobile Companion ($100) is showing up at just the right time. An alternative to Apple’s portable router, this little guy hooks directly into your outlet without additional cables. It doesn’t have quite as much going on under the hood but it’s still a pretty impressive device.

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Satechi Premium 4 Port Aluminum USB Hub

In the Apple accessory field there’s Mac-complenting and then there’s Mac-matching; Satechi’s Premium 4 Port Aluminum USB Hub ($25) falls squarely in the latter category. With a strip of USB ports and a 9.5” long cable connecting it to your computer, the functionality is clear. It’s the design that sets this one apart from the crowd.

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$2199
Macs

Apple 15" MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Mid 2012)

After months of rumors, the next generation MacBook Pro has finally been announced. Dubbed the MacBook Pro with Retina display—the lower case “d” is Apple’s—it really is an impressive beast. Designed with the size of the MacBook Air and the power of the Pro in mind, this Mac is super thin, super light, and has an incredible display. Just as impressive are the internals: a huge battery, super fast processors, RAM, graphics, and flash storage, plus a new quiet fan to keep it all cool. Of course, the price matches the specs; this Mac starts at $2199.

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$10-$79
Peripherals

Apple MagSafe 2 Power Adapter + MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter

There’s only so much Apple can do to slim down its laptops at this point, and cutting the height of its power connector is the most recent trick it’s using to shave off millimeters. Today saw the introduction of the MagSafe 2 connector on both 45W and 85W MagSafe 2 Power Adapters ($79 each)—the former is for the new MacBook Air, the latter the MacBook Pro with Retina display. In addition, it brought out the MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter ($10), a welcome accessory for those with older adapters for displays.

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