2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

Adobe Creative Suite 6

If you’re in a creative field, odds are you’ve got at least one piece of Adobe’s Creative Suite installed on your machine — and if so, it’ll soon be time to upgrade. Adobe Creative Suite 6 ($1,300-$2,600) includes all new versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Prelude, and Audition, among other applications.

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$100
Apps

MW3D-Solutions Cheetah3D

In the Apple world, there are plenty of things you can buy for a hundred bucks: an iPhone 4 or an Apple TV, for example. Believe it or not, 3D modeling software is on that list too. Cheetah3D ($100) from MW3D-Solutions costs the same as a pair of iPod shuffles, but it’s no slouch. This Mac App Store title, designed specifically for OS X, is made to be easy to learn and to use but is a full and powerful CGI solution.

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$360-$2,096
Peripherals

OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD

If the success of the MacBook Air is any indication, there’s little doubt Apple intends to switch over to SSDs as quickly as it can. Solid state drives are incredibly fast and more reliable than spinning hard drives, although they still ring up at a higher price per gigabyte. OWC has been at the forefront of bringing these drives to Macs that don’t already have them, and is now expanding its lineup with Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD ($360-$2,096) for the Mac Pro.

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$179
June 2012
Peripherals

Matrox DualHead2Go Digital ME

As of today, most Macs support a single external monitor—only the 15”/17” MacBook Pros can daisy chain two Apple Thunderbolt Displays at once with their built-in hardware, and iMacs can add a Thunderbolt Display to match their own screens. Since many users would prefer not to spend two grand for twin monitors, say nothing of possibly having to replace their Macs, Matrox has come up with a different solution: DualHead2Go Digital ME ($179). This breakout box connects to Macs with Mini-DisplayPort or Thunderbolt ports, stretching a 3840x1200-pixel desktop across two DVI displays.

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$140-$250
Extras

APC Back-UPS Pro

If you’re an iMac, Mac mini, or Mac Pro user, you’ve probably been through this before: a power outage that prevents you from doing some critical work on your computer. Our recommended solution is APC’s Back-UPS Pro family ($140-$250), which provides a variety of safe alternatives for emergency battery-fueled electricity. “UPS” stands for “uninterruptible power supply,” and the Pro family includes four models that vary in battery power—the lowest-end version will keep an iMac running for around 25 minutes per battery, while the top model gives you around an hour of emergency time, assuming nothing else is connected to the unit. Spare batteries can be hot-swapped in without interrupting power, too.

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$3,000
July 2012
Camera

Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera

Video professionals already know the name Blackmagic Design thanks to its considerable collection of post-production hardware and software; now the company has decided to jump directly into the other side of things with its Cinema Camera ($3,000). With a 2.5K sensor that enables budget-conscious professional users to shoot entirely in RAW, the Cinema Camera isn’t messing around; most DSLRs in the same price range force compression onto their lower-resolution videos.

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$15
Apps

Anne Geddes My First Five Years

It’s time to add baby books to the list of physical items that are successfully being replaced by digital versions. With the release of Anne Geddes’s My First Five Years ($15) in the Mac App Store, new parents can easily chronicle the first five years of a child’s life, using a variety of templates to create an interactive book-like experience. Unlike a printed book, this app gives you the ability to customize the pages to your liking, so it’s easy to see a bright future ahead for the digital evolution of this successful print-based product.

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$6
Apps

Contract Web Development Fast TM Restore

Time Machine is an awesome OS X feature—a savior when you’ve lost a file or experienced a hard drive failure. The only real problem is the interface, which requires you to take an animated trip through time and space just to find missing files. Sometimes you just want your data restored without graphical flourishes, and that’s where Contract Web Development’s Fast TM Restore ($6) comes in.

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$290
Cases

Thule Crossover 38L Rolling Carry-On Bag

Frequent fliers know the value of rolling luggage, and that’s why pretty much every suitcase these days has wheels. Thule’s Crossover 38L Rolling Carry-On Bag ($290) adds a Mac laptop compartment to a handsome suitcase: grab one of these guys and you won’t have to worry about holding a separate computer bag on the plane—or fighting for space in the overhead compartment.

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Free
Apps

Juan Leon FlashbackChecker

Macs have largely been spared the virus and trojan issues that have crippled Windows PCs for years, but Flashback malware is now making rounds—and the news. Statistically, you’re probably not in any danger, but it’s worth checking your Macs to confirm you’re not part of the 1% that’s been infected. The easiest tool we’ve seen is developer Juan Leon’s Flashback Checker (Free), which handles the dirty work for you. 

 

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$20
Apps

Frictional Games Amnesia: The Dark Descent

When it comes to video games, the term “fun” can be pretty subjective. Some people are content to stack blocks and watch lines disappear, while others want to shoot everything in sight. Then there are those who get a kick out of being scared to death—or close to it. If you fall in to that group, Frictional Games release of Amnesia: The Dark Descent ($20) on the Mac App Store is sure to come as frighteningly good news.

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LaCie eSATA Hub

It’s still a pretty slow process, but Thunderbolt is continuing to spread. We’ve seen a small number of hard drives and a few other accessories make it to market, with LaCie getting more out than most other companies so far. Now it’s added to its collection with the introduction of eSATA Hub ($199). It’s a smart solution for users who have eSATA drives lying around that they’d like to use with newer Macs at blazing fast speeds.

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$100
Extras

Braun BNC010 Alarm Clock

Is Braun’s BNC010 ($100) the alarm clock Apple would make if Apple made alarm clocks? Well no, probably not, but it’s easy to see that the two companies still share a design aesthetic. Looking at this clock, we can’t help but think of an old white iPod tilted on its side. It’d be a great fit in the bedroom or office of any Mac lover.

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$1,865-$6,904+
Furniture

Turnstone Office Sets

Whether you’re working alone or in a group, a great office can make all the difference between productivity and lethargy. You could cherry pick each individual piece and assemble them together, or you can let a company such as Turnstone put it together for you. The company makes all sorts of nice office furniture and accessories, with four different pre-designed office sets available; packages range from Office for One ($1,865+) for the solo worker to Office for Four ($6,904+) for groups. The base model includes a handsome, Mac-ready desk, with larger versions growing in size and price from there.

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Free
Apps

Cobook Cobook

When it was introduced, Flexibits’ Fantastical was a totally new interface for iCal on the Mac, bringing natural language recognition and more to your calendar. Now Cobook’s Cobook app (Free) is seeking to do the same for Address Book. Available as a public beta, this software allows you to interact with your contact information in a whole new way, and from what we’re seeing so far, it works quite well.

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