Popcap Games Zuma's Revenge

Technically, Popcap’s colored ball matching game Zuma’s Revenge ($10) has been out for a year and a half, but it’s worth spotlighting today for two reasons. First, it’s beautifully crafted: like all of Popcap’s recent titles, the production values are nearly off the charts by puzzle game standards. As in the original Zuma, you control a frog-shaped cannon that fires red, green, yellow, and blue balls into a snaking line that will kill you if it reaches a certain end point—every three or more balls you match shrinks the line, a fun if familiar play mechanic. Second, the recent debut of Zuma’s Revenge on the Mac App Store drops the original price of entry in half, and lets you install the game on all of your Macs without registration hassles.

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Encore Software Home Design Studio 15

If you’ve ever tried to remodel a room on your own, you probably know how challenging it is to visualize the “before” and “after” at the same time. Encore Software’s Home Design Studio 15 ($150) is there to take the guesswork out of your plans: it opens with a simple 2-D grid that you can use to create individual rooms or an entire house, then lets you place common objects into the empty spaces, and do a complete walkthrough from your choice of multiple 3-D vantage points. Suddenly, remodeling becomes a simple matter of making easy drag-and-drop tweaks to a floor plan—only as complex as you want to make it.

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$2100 and up

Gallotti & Radice Air Desks

In the right designer’s hands, glass and metal office furniture pairs spectacularly with Apple’s glass and metal Macs. The Air Desk series ($2100 and up) from Artisanal Italian design house Gallotti & Radice is a clear example - crystal clear, actually, thanks to transparent 12mm tempered glass panes that form the top and sides of the basic Air Desk, the extended Air Desk L, and the smaller matching Air Desk Console. You get to choose from an anodized aluminum, stainless steel, white embossed or black lacquered metal bar to hold the glass together; it can support the weight of current iMacs and all MacBooks.

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AGLogic Swackett

You can check the weather on your iPhone or Mac at any time. But if all you want is for someone to tell you whether or not you need to wear a jacket, Swackett (Free) from AGLogic has you covered. Give the app your location, and you’ll quickly see the temperature, weather conditions, and a graphical representation of what to wear: sweater, jacket, or coat. Simple.

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Audio-Technica AT-LP240-USB Turntable

Have a vinyl collection that dwarfs your iTunes library? Perhaps it’s time to pick up a Audio-Technica AT-LP240-USB Turntable ($500). Sporting a USB port for direct connection to your Mac for conversion purposes, it also offers a built-in phono preamp for connecting to traditional hi-fi systems, giving you the best of both worlds.

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VinotekaSoft Vinoteka

Fancy yourself a wine collector? Well Vinoteka ($50) from VinotekaSoft might just become your new best friend—think of it as Delicious Library for fermented grapes. Featuring a clean design with the wood and glass you’d expect from a virtual wine gallery, this Mac app helps you monitor all of your bottles across your cellar and wine fridge, keeps track of tastings and food pairings, and syncs with several different professional sources for ratings. You can digitally recreate your collection and organize it however you see fit.

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BoutiqueID Felt Animal MacBook Sleeves

Been looking for a laptop carrier with a bit more character than your average nylon bag can provide? These BoutiqueID Felt Animal MacBook Sleeves ($72-$97) should do the trick. Available in a variety of sizes fitting anything from the svelte 11-inch MacBook Air up to the comparatively gargantuan 15-inch MacBook Pro, they come in two main designs: Owl or Wolf, with a Penguin option for 11-inch MBA owners.

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Big Blue Bubble Burn the Rope

It was hot on the iPhone, so naturally you’re going to dig Burn the Rope ($6) from Big Blue Bubble on the bigger screen of a Mac. The goal of the game is to burn away all the ropes using a flame—the catch is that the flame can only burn upwards. On the iOS version you actually rotated your iPhone or iPod touch around to keep the flame properly oriented. Rather than making you twist around your Mac, the developers were kind enough to include an on-screen hand to turn the puzzle.

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Sigg Metal Water Bottles

Drink more water. Waste fewer bottles. Look good doing it. Sounds like a plan, right? From our perspective, the best way to have it all is with a Mac-matching aluminum or stainless steel water bottle from Sigg ($15 and up, $22-$25 as shown). Ranging from a kiddie-sized 1/3 liter up to 1.5 liters per bottle and with close to 200 designs and styles, chances are high that you’ll find something you’ll like—a lot—regardless of whether it resembles or just accents your Apple gear.

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Apple MacBook Air (Mid-2011) Expectations

Last year’s release of the “late 2010 MacBook Air” hit the laptop market like a bolt of lightning. While the improved 13-incher missed the mark with us, gaining an SD card slot, nicer trackpad, and blessedly fixed hinge—but standing still in the CPU department—the tiny 11-inch version won our hearts by offering nearly as much power in a dramatically smaller shell. Two of our editors ditched MacBook Pros for 11-inch Airs and haven’t looked back; two others are ready to make the jump, too. That’s going to happen soon: less than a year later, Apple’s preparing a supposedly major refresh for a May or June 2011 launch, and it might just be worthy of an upgrade. Here’s what we’re expecting.

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Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone

Shiny, retro-inspired microphones are all the rage these days, and Samson’s Meteor Mic ($99) might well be the flashiest of the pack. Built with a fancy integrated tripod for instant positioning on a flat surface, Meteor Mic features a chrome-plated body with metal mesh grilles wrapping around the chassis. Volume and mute controls are on the front, with headphone-out and USB connectors on the back. But what’s inside counts for a lot, too: a big 25mm condenser microphone, designed to capture sound with warmth that smaller mics might miss. It’s being pitched at podcasters, but the CD-quality 16-bit/44.1 or 48kHz recording capabilities will make it attractive for other recordings, as well.

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AViiQ Portable Quick Stand

Proving that the foldable design of Apple’s Smart Cover for the iPad 2 made a splash outside of the tablet market, AViiQ has introduced the Portable Quick Stand ($40). What starts as a flat slab folds up into a triangular stand for your MacBook, bringing it up to a 12 degree angle that helps with typing. When you’re done, just fold it back up and it’s ready to travel.

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Silva Limited Custom Bamboo MacBook Case

Sometimes opposites attract - it’s the whole yin and yang thing. That’s why the Custom Bamboo MacBook Case ($180) from Silva Limited gets us so excited. Bringing together natural, handworked wood and the aluminum and plastic of your 13- or 15-inch MacBook Pro leads to balance—and results in a really handsome way to carry around your computer.

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Susan Kare Classic Mac Icon Prints

Whether you’re an old-time Mac user or just an aficionado of computing history, these Susan Kare Classic Mac Icon Prints ($90-$500) are a perfect addition to your Apple-themed workspace. A variety of icons are available, including the “Smiling Computer,” “Watch,” “Bomb,” and “Trash,” on a similarly varied number of colored backgrounds.

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Palo Alto Audio Design Cubik Speakers

Clearly catering to the NeXT logo enthusiasts among us, Palo Alto’s Cubik Speakers ($200) promise a whole bunch of sound in small, deliberately off-axis cube packages. One thing that’s unique about these speakers is how the audio signal is transmitted from your computer; instead of using the standard 3.5mm audio connection, Cubik is pure digital. All over the sound is pumped over from your Mac via USB, reducing the opportunity for analog audio conversion to introduce noise into the signal. Updated August 6, 2012 with hands-on impressions!

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