2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

$160
March 2014
Peripherals

Lenmar ChugPlug

Lenmar’s ChugPlug ($160) was one of a handful of Best of Show Award-winners at the 2014 International CES, and the only solely Mac-focused product of the bunch. Up until now, the only real option for providing portable power to a MacBook has come in the form of Sanho’s HyperJuice, an accessory that requires physical hacking of the power supply. This one is less destructive, offering up to four extra hours of use without having to tear anything apart. Read More

Corning Thunderbolt Optical Cable

We’re not necessarily suggesting you run out an drop more than the cost of an iPad mini on a cable. But if you’re so inclined, Corning is now giving you the ability to do so. Its Thunderbolt Optical Cable ($330) is a solution for a niche market. At 10 meters, it’s much longer than Apple’s standard Thunderbolt cable, yet performs at Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 speeds thanks to the optical technology inside. Read More

Free
Apps

Google Google+ Auto Backup

There are a million different ways now to share your photos, but there are never enough ways to back them up. Google’s hopping on the scene with a stealthy new app that’s only available for download when paired with its Picasa tool. Google+ Auto Backup (Free) takes advantage of the cloud storage space the company offers to users, automatically copying photos from your computer to a Google server. It’s a simple tool, but it’s hard to ignore the value of the functionality, especially given the price.  Read More

$150
Cases

Booq Boa nerve

Booq is back at it, with yet another bag for taking your Mac on the road. This time, it’s a messenger bag called Boa nerve ($150). Not only has the company made the bag look nice—something we’ve come to expect—but it has also built in some really cool features that make it a particularly great choice for bikers. Read More

$20
Apps

Valve Left 4 Dead 2

If you’re a fan of 3-D shooters, act quick: Valve’s fantastic 2009 zombie survival game Left 4 Dead 2 ($20) is free right now! Why rush? Because after 1:00 PM ET today, December 26, the game jumps back up to its normal level. Free games are good, and good free games are even better. You’ll rarely find such a great deal on a high quality title like this. Read More

Free
Apps

OpenEmu OpenEmu Multiple Video Game System

Even as video games continue to advance, the classics remain in high demand. ROMs allow you to play older titles—that’ve been acquired legally, of course—but before now, there’s been no good system for collecting all your games in one place. Enter the OpenEmu Multiple Video Game System (Free). Think of it as the iTunes of ROMs, designed to organize, store, and play your favorite antique games. Read More

$500-$900
Peripherals

Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+

Several years after the Thunderbolt high-speed cable standard was first introduced, most of the drives using Apple’s connector are large, professional-grade, desktop-specific devices. Some time ago, Elgato introduced a more portable solution in the Thunderbolt SSD, and nearly two years later, it has returned with a sequel called Thunderbolt Drive+ ($500-$900). The price has jumped significantly from the original model, but so have the performance and capacity of the new drive. Updated December 20, 2013 with new photos and hands-on testing results! Read More

$3595
Peripherals

Sharp 32" PN-K321 4K Ultra HD LED Monitor

If you were holding out hope that an Apple-branded 4K monitor would arrive in stores alongside the new Mac Pro, you’ll probably have to keep holding your breath until later in 2014. But even though there’s no new Thunderbolt Display from Cupertino, the Apple Store does have a launch day 4K display option available: Sharp’s 32” PN-K321 4K Ultra HD LED Monitor ($3595). Yes, it costs more than the base Mac Pro tower itself, but isn’t a pretty picture (and the ability to edit 4K movies) worth it? Read More

$2,999+
December 19, 2013
Macs

Apple Mac Pro (Late 2013)

Back at WWDC earlier this year, Apple debuted the brand new Mac Pro ($2,999+)—a completely redesigned version of its professional-grade computer. Six months later, it’s actually coming to stores: the new tower will be available December 19, 2013 at a starting price that’s up $500 from the previous model. Shaped like a tapered metal tube, this is a radically different machine from not only the previous Pro, but anything Apple’s done before. Everything’s built around a thermal core, with Intel’s Xeon as the brains of the whole system—up to 12 cores and 256-bit floating point math, promising around twice the power of the prior generation. All expansion is handled externally, over Thunderbolt 2. It comes standard with dual AMD FirePro GPUs for crazy graphics power, including support for up to three 4K displays, or six Thunderbolt Displays. And yet it’s tiny: 1/8 the volume of the previous generation, with the entire top serving as a handle. This is the first Mac in years Apple is manufacturing in the United States. Read More

$229
Speakers

Kanto YU2

No, we’re not just reprinting our look at Satechi’s AirBass from a few days ago, but we can’t blame you for thinking Kanto’s YU2 ($229) speakers look mighty similar. These are a unique set of speakers, though, visually set apart by handsomely glossy wood cabinets in a bunch of different colors. Some are neutral, but there are also options that may match the decor of an office or home. Read More

$20
Cases

Feral Interactive Rayman Origins

Want to feel old? The first Rayman game came out almost 20 years ago, way back in 1995. Since then, there’ve been dozens of titles across multiple platforms, and one of the most recent is Rayman Origins ($20), which is now available in the Mac App Store from Feral Interactive. Like most of the games in the series, it features classic, 2-D platforming and attractive graphics, but with a multiplayer mode that lets multiple players tackle the side-scrolling levels together. Read More

$130
Speakers

Satechi AirBass Active Bluetooth Speakers

Satechi’s AirBass Active Bluetooth Speakers ($130) are a good example of how simple design, executed properly, can lead to an attractive product. Coming in either black or white, these desktop speakers would look really nice next to an iMac or a MacBook. They’re not the fanciest things around, but at this price point, they don’t have to be. Read More

$400
January 7, 2014
Speakers

Harman/Kardon Aura Wireless Home Speaker System

Harman/Kardon’s Soundsticks speakers have been around for years and years, virtually unchanged aesthetically. Now the company has taken the iconic design of the central component and expanded it to a new product. Aura ($400) is a new speaker system that looks a lot like the Soundsticks’ subwoofer, which was once known as iSub. This time, the transparent dome houses the entire speaker system, and offers pretty much every conceivable way to connect to your Apple devices. It’s a particularly interesting option to pair with Apple’s upcoming Mac Pro, as it’s similarly sized, and can operate wirelessly or with wires as you prefer. Read More

NuMac NMBDR6x Blu-ray Drive

We’ve been refreshing Apple’s website since the calendar flipped over to December, waiting to see when the new Mac Pro is going to pop up. We’re still waiting, but in the meantime, there are new accessories to stock up on, such as NuMac’s NMBDR6x Blu-ray Drive ($149). Made to match the new design of the upcoming drive-free Mac Pro, it adds the “bag of hurt” functionality that Apple has continued to avoid. Read More

Kanex simpleDock

It’s no secret that USB ports are always at a premium, especially when you’re using a MacBook with only two. There are plenty of hub solutions out there that add on extras, but Kanex’s simpleDock has to be one of the cooler ones. Made of silver-colored zinc and black plastic, it will look good next to your favorite Mac, and adds features other than just ports. Update: We’ve added additional thoughts from hands-on testing of a simpleDock, below! Read More

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