2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

Free
Apps

Hexage Robotek

We almost passed by this little gem in the Mac App Store, but we’re happy we stopped to check it out. Hexage’s Robotek (Free) is a really neat game that combines elements of RPG, strategy, and pure luck. Set in a distopian future overrun by robots, it’s your job to fight through the bad guys one city at a time to take the world back. In-app purchases ranging from $1 to $3 make the game a bit easier, but they’re not necessary to complete it.

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LaCie LaPlug

If you’re looking for one of the most affordable ways to turn any USB hard drive or flash drive into a network- or cloud-accessible device, LaCie has you covered with its new LaPlug ($75). Designed by Neil Poulton, the simple black box is deceivingly powerful. Plug your drive into the port on the front, and it instantly becomes accessible from any computer on your home network, or even remotely through a browser-based interface.

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$100 + $40
Peripherals

Wacom Bamboo Capture + Wireless Accessory Kit

Wacom’s just updated its Bamboo series of drawing tablets, offering three new models packed with plenty of software at lower prices. Of the three, the mid-level Bamboo Capture ($100) strikes us as the most appealing. The pen-and-touch model—it supports input from both the included stylus as well as Multi-Touch gestures—has a 5.8” x 3.6” active area that’s perfect for photo touchups and drawing sketches. Included in the box are Adobe Photoshop Elements and Autodesk Sketchbook Express. The latter is available for free from the Mac App Store, but a trimmed down version of Adobe’s software costs $80 on its own, with the full version going for the same $100 as the tablet. Pretty good deal, right?

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$130-$150
Decor

IMG Lighting Beacon 600 + 600LE

IMG Lighting’s Beacon 600 and 600LE desktop lamps ($130-$150) are somewhat funky-looking, but they’ve been designed to complement Apple’s MacBook Pro. Other than the obviously unique design, the big selling point is how they produce light: these lamps use 600 Lumen LEDs rather than conventional bulbs. Not only do they give you the bright light that you need, they’re better for the environment, too.

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$29
Cases

Grove Bamboo Back

If you’re looking to add a bit of flair and protection to your MacBook, you have quite a few options, including stickers and hard plastic cases, both with their own positives and negatives. Grove has come up with a new alternative: Bamboo Back ($29). Available in sizes for everything from the 11” MacBook Air to the 17” MacBook Pro, these handmade wooden plates spruce up your machine and personalize it, too.

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$40
Apps

EA Sports FIFA Soccer 12

If you’re a soccer fan, you’ve probably lamented the lack of great soccer games for your Mac. (You might also call it football, but that’s a topic for another day.) EA Sports has addressed the first of these issues by finally bringing its famous soccer series to the Mac with FIFA Soccer 12 ($40). The spectacular 3-D title is available only as a digital download through distributor GameTree Mac—no Mac App Store support for this title—and is out now.

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$2,900
Camera

Lensbaby Movie Maker's Kit

Moviemaking technology has moved way past the days of smearing Vaseline on your lens to achieve cool effects: between post-processing filters and distinctive lenses, there are all sorts of really cool ways to make videos stand out visually. Lensbaby has made a name for itself in recent years with affordable imaging accessories, and has now packed a bunch of its most noteworthy tools into the Movie Maker’s Kit ($2,900). Some of the effects may have Vaseline-like blurring, but at least you dwon’t have to clean off your lens when you’re through.

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$9
Apps

Global Delight Technologies Boom

The volume of music and videos on your computer is determined by two main factors: the file itself, and the speakers on your Mac. Sometimes, one or both of them won’t live up to your expectations, delivering lower audio levels than you’d like—a particular problem for MacBook Air users. While you could plug a set of external speakers into your computer, Global Delight Technologies has created a software solution called Boom ($9) that’ll save you a few bucks and the hassle of having to lug speakers around. It intelligently maximizes the volume levels of your audio and video files to match the peak output capabilities of your machine, creating noticeably louder sound without dramatically compromising the quality.

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$100 and up
Decor

AllPosters.com Steve Jobs Poster by Ted Thai

Steve Jobs may not be Apple’s CEO anymore, but he’s still an iconic figure, and a legend to legions of Mac fans. What better way to honor and seek inspiration the man than to hang a handsome photo of him with one of his creations on your wall? Some people may prefer the classic Steve in black turtleneck and jeans look, but there are plenty of other famous Jobs images, including this classic pose ($100 and up), available on AllPosters.com and shot by Ted Thai.

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$4*
Apps

Plant Based Worml

Strictly speaking, the functionality offered by Plant Based’s Worml ($4*) isn’t unique to this new Mac App Store release, but this developer has pulled off peer-to-peer file transfers in a cool and easy way. Worml creates ultra-simple file-sharing connections between two machines in a manner that’s actually pretty similar to Lion’s native AirDrop feature, except with some real advantages: you don’t need to be on the same network as the person you’re sharing a file with, and soon there’ll be support for Snow Leopard too.

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$10/$20
Apps

Splashtop Inc. Splashtop Remote Desktop

What do you use to remotely access another computer from your Mac? Apple’s Back to My Mac works, but has to be set up under specific conditions, and Microsoft’s Remote Desktop only connects you to PCs. Splashtop Inc. has been in the remote access game for almost a year, starting with iOS apps, and now it’s bringing this expertise to the Mac App Store with Splashtop Remote Desktop ($10/$20). Unlike rivals, Splashtop promises 30 frame per second streaming, and is designed to work even with low-latency 3-D games.

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$100-$180
Peripherals

Western Digital My Passport for Mac and My Passport Studio

Western Digital’s latest updates to its My Passport for Mac and My Passport Studio ($100-$180) portable external hard drives are pretty impressive. These tiny drives are powered by your machine, weigh less than a pound, and look even sharper than before, nicely matching any silver or black Mac. They’re perfect for travel because they’re small enough to toss in a bag, and light enough to almost forget inside.

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$115-$125
Cases

Stash Messenger Bag for MacBook Air

Etsy seller Mariforssell’s Stash line of cases all share the same general aesthetic; they’re modern and fun. We really like the Messenger Bag for MacBook Air ($115-$125), particularly because of the material options that are offered. Available in fabrics such as denim, herringbone wool, and tartan, the Messenger Bags have a unique and cool style that we’d be happy to carry around. Out of all the designs, we really dig some of the plaids.

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$650-$900
October 20, 2011
Camera

Nikon J1 and V1 Mirrorless Cameras

The camera community has been expecting Nikon to release a mirrorless rival to Sony’s popular, smaller-than-DSLR interchangeable lens cameras for quite some time, and it finally happened last night: Nikon actually debuted two of them. The J1 ($650) and V1 ($900) bodies will both be available towards the end of October, sharing sensor technology, a new “CX” lens mounting system, and still/video capabilities, while diverging in body designs and frills.

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$400-$500
Peripherals

LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series Hard Drive

We’ve been waiting months for a consumer-priced Thunderbolt drive to go up for sale, and it looks like the most affordable option yet has finally been released. LaCie’s Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series Hard Drives ($400-$500) should be hitting the shelves at bricks-and-mortar Apple Stores across the globe, and they’re now available from Apple’s online store with a shipping time of one to two weeks.

 

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