$70
Cases

Speck A-Line for MacBook

We reviewed Speck’s A-Line Bag for the iPad just shy of a year ago, and were really quite impressed. Known mainly for its rubber and plastic cases, Speck was able to create a really impressive fabric handbag that was also truly functional for tablet carrying. Fast forward a year later and Speck has quietly introduced a 13” version of A-Line ($70), a great choice for users with MacBooks, MacBook Pros, or MacBook Airs.

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$29
Apps

Touch Press The Elements

Originally known as an early “wow-worthy” iPad app, Touch Press’s The Elements ($29) is now available in a Mac edition. The price is high, but you’re paying for gorgeously designed educational software that makes the periodic table come to life. From actinium to zirconium, the app features a whole lot more than a simple list and numbers.

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$30/$60
Apps

Pixelmator Team Pixelmator

Let’s face it: most people who think they need Photoshop don’t need Photoshop. Unless you’re a professional who constantly uses dozens of Photoshop-exclusive features, you can save several hundred dollars and go with Pixelmator Team’s Pixelmator ($30/$60) instead. We’re only comparing it to Photoshop for reference, but the title really stands on its own—it was just updated to version 2.0 this morning, and is now an even better value, especially if you get it before the price hike.

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iFixit iMac Dual Hard Drive Kit

iFixit’s easy to love. Not only does the little repair shop tear apart every new Apple product just to see what’s inside, but sometimes it finds hidden treasures, too. The most recent discovery: mounting points inside both models of the latest generation iMac—even the smaller version—for a second 2.5” hard drive. Naturally, the company has found a way to take advantage of this space. Just as it did for the Mac mini a few months ago, iFixit is now offering Dual Hard Drive Kits for the 21.5” and 27” iMac ($70).

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$130-$160
December 2011
Peripherals

Crypteks Crypteks USB

If you take the security of your data extra seriously—or you just really liked that one scene from The Da Vinci Code—then Crypteks’ Crypteks USB ($130-$160) is probably right up your alley. This fully funded Kickstarter project is more than a simple flash drive. It features 256-bit AES encryption that’s controlled by the hardware cypher encasing the drive.

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$200-$330
Camera

Lexar Professional 133x SDXC Card

Want a gigantic SD card? Well, all right, how does 64GB sound? Not enough? Fine, how about 128GB! High-def photographers and videographers can rejoice now that Lexar has released the Professional 133x SDXC Cards (64GB - $200, 128GB - $330), each with plenty of space for anything you could hope to shoot in several typical sessions. And you probably don’t need to worry about upgrading your computer: they’re compatible with the SD/SDXC readers built into the newest MacBook Pros and iMacs.

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Epson WorkForce DS-520 Scanner

While modern personal computers and the Internet at large have reduced the amount of paper in most of our lives, they haven’t ushered in the “paperless society” that many predicted they would. At the end of the day, if you want a paperless office, sometimes you still need to take matters into your own hands. Enter the Epson WorkForce DS-520 Color Document Scanner ($400), a high-powered sheet-fed scanner designed to help you get control of at least some of the clutter in your life.

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Cropmark LMP Bluetooth Keypad

Sure, not everybody needs it, but for those who do the lack of a number pad on Apple’s Wireless Keyboard can be a killer. Well spreadsheet jockeys rejoice, there’s an option now. Cropmark’s LMP Bluetooth Keypad ($39) is just what you need—it’ll get you tearing through those cells in no time.

 

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$30
Apps

Tumult Hype 2.5

It’s hard to believe that nearly three years have passed since we wrote about Tumult’s original release of Hype, a web design program that eased the process of creating HTML5 alternatives to Adobe Flash pages. These days, Tumult’s selling a much-improved sequel called Hype 2.5 ($30), which is available through the Mac App Store. The new Hype can create HiDPI/Retina-ready pages, as well as pages laid out with “springs and struts”—capable of automatically resizing to fit iPhones, iPads, and computers regardless of screen size. Support for all modern browsers (and many past ones) is built right in, as well as the ability to output files in an iBooks-ready interactive format.

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Free
Apps

Alex Arena Preferences Quick Launch

Alex Arena created Preferences Quick Launch (Free) in a weekend because he wanted a quicker way to get to the Sound pane buried in OS X’s Preferences. His project is our gain, as the set of applications in this package make getting to any of the different settings in Preferences even easier. The .zip file contains a folder of 27 tiny apps, each corresponding to a different pane, from General to Startup Disk, Bluetooth to Users & Groups.

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$600+
Furniture

Re:form Designs Crunching Numbers G4

Devoted Mac users often keep their old computers around gathering dust, a reality that Re:form Designs has created a seriously cool repurposing business to address. Following up on an earlier version that used prior-generation Power Mac G3s, Crunching Numbers G4 ($600+) is the latest design from the company, turning two Power Mac G4 towers into one of the nerdiest tables around.

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$15
Apps

Double Fine Productions Stacking

When Double Fine Productions is attached to a game, you can pretty much be assured that’s it’s going to be inventive, fun, and at least somewhat weird. Stacking ($15) is no different. Having first been released on consoles, and then Windows and even Linux, the studio’s Russian stacking doll game has now found a home in the Mac App Store. In it, you play as Charlie Blackmore, the world’s tiniest nesting doll; that should give you a sense of the type of humor these developers bring to their games.

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$25
Apps

Rogue Amoeba Airfoil 4.5

If you’ve ever tried to send audio from your Mac to other rooms in your house, you’ve probably run into a challenge—unless you’ve set up Apple TVs or AirPort Expresses everywhere, it’s tough, and even with those devices, you’re limited to streaming from iTunes. That’s unless you’re running Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil ($25), which was just updated to version 4.5: this app is the perfect way to send audio to all of the Macs (or PCs) on your network, and not just from iTunes. It streams from any audio source on your machine, a trick that you can’t easily pull off otherwise.

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$50+
Cases

Snupped SpaceSuit

Customizable cases are easy enough to find for iPhones and iPads, but there aren’t too many options for Macs. Thankfully, Snupped makes personalized Mac cases, and the lineup includes SpaceSuit ($50+). Available in pretty much whatever size you need, the vinyl and rubber sleeve can be had with any of more than 60 pre-designed images, or your own uploaded photo.

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$1,200-$2,500
Macs

Apple MacBook Pro (Early 2011)

Yes, Apple’s last MacBook Pro update wasn’t particularly exciting, but the new MacBook Pros ($1,200-$2,500) pack a lot more awesome into otherwise familiar enclosures. On the outside is the same body we’ve seen since the October 2008 overhaul, but new graphics chips and Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors offer huge performance jumps over earlier, same-priced models, and a new Thunderbolt port promises faster I/O with future peripherals. Available in the standard 13”, 15”, and 17” sizes, these workhorses live up to the Pro name.

 

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