2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

$250-$1,300
Peripherals

Monster Digital OverDrive mini

Although they’re not at a competitive level with traditional hard drives yet, the price of SSDs are definitely coming down. This is a good thing for everyone (well, except for the hard drive manufacturers) as it means faster, more reliable storage in a greater number of products. Take Monster Digital’s Apple Store-exclusive OverDrive mini ($250-$1,300). The external storage packs certainly aren’t as cheap as more traditional competitors, but they excel in a number of other ways.

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Samson Meteorite USB Condenser Microphone

We featured Samson’s original Meteor mic way, way back in 2011. Now, three years later, comes the sequel, sporting a logical name: Meteorite USB Condenser Microphone ($60). The design is highly similar to before, but it’s been shrunk down into a smaller package, consisting of a spherical microphone with an integrated cable, and a desktop stand.

 

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$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. ChugPlug offers up to four extra hours of use without having to tear apart a wall adapter. Originally posted in January 2014, this article was updated May 27, 2014 with hands-on impressions and testing results!

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$49-$99
Peripherals

Transcend JetDrive Lite

Transcend’s not the first company to sell a specially-sized SD card made to expand the storage in a MacBook, but it’s entered the market with aggressive pricing and high capacities. JetDrive Lite ($49-$99) is available in different configurations for the 13” MacBook Air and every generation of 13” and 15” Retina MacBook Pro. A simple chart helps you find the right one for your Mac, and you’ll only pay half of what PNY charges for the same capacities in its StorEDGE.

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$15-$60
Peripherals

Leef Copper Edition Drives

Not the most technologically advanced products we’ve ever covered, Leef’s Copper Edition Drives ($15-$60) are still pretty cool. Available in three different form factors, they all share one thing in common: the use of copper, one of tech’s most underrated materials. With capacities ranging from 16GB to 64GB, they should offer enough storage for your on-the-go needs.

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$350-$550
Peripherals

Western Digital My Cloud Mirror

Hard drive manufacturers are no longer content to simply throw a spinning disk in a box with a USB port—they continue to add features and functionality, making external hard drives more than just simple storage devices. Take My Cloud Mirror ($350-$550), the newest drive from Western Digital. Like some other competitors, it incorporates network functionality, and can make its data accessible anywhere at any time. That’s why it’s billed as “a cloud of your own.”

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$430-$950
Peripherals

OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual

If you need a solid amount of external storage space, value Thunderbolt, and want something with RAID capabilities, then check out OWC’s Mercury Elite Pro Dual ($430-$950). Coming in capacities ranging from 2TB to 10TB, it’s a smart and fast solution for backup, extra file storage, and anything else you might need an external drive for. It’s also going to bring back some memories of the big old silver Mac Pro—although this one’s black, the aesthetic is otherwise similar, and larger than the Mercury Elite Pro Dual Mini.

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Elgato Thunderbolt Dock

Elgato’s dabbled in Thunderbolt before with its Thunderbolt SSD and Thunderbolt Drive+, but now it’s taking a stab at docking stations with the aptly named Thunderbolt Dock ($230). Much like other docks we’ve seen, this unit is made to offer extra ports while only requiring a single connection back to the Mac. Something like this is especially useful for those using a MacBook Air. Read on for hands-on impressions.

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Bluelounge Jimi

Apple’s decision to hide the USB ports on the back of its iMac computers makes connectivity a little challenging for detachable accessories such as flash drives—reaching around to the back every time you want to attach or detach something can be inconvenient. Bluelounge’s Jimi ($15) solves this by using a J-shaped USB extender to relocate the port to the bottom of the iMac’s front. USB 3.0-certified, the extender also makes the port horizontal rather than vertical.

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RetroConnector Disk II Styled USB SD Card Reader

One might think a company named RetroConnector focuses on finding ways to plug into old technologies, but it’s actually up to something a little different. On its Etsy store, the brand sells miniature accessories based on old Macs and their peripherals. Take Disk II Styled USB SD Card Reader ($50), for instance. If you ever had a floppy drive for the Apple II, this will look quite familiar.

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$500
April 2014
Peripherals

G-Technology G-Drive ev SSD

Remember G-Technology’s G-Dock ev with Thunderbolt? The hard drive docking station comes with two 1TB drives, but since they’re swappable, we had a feeling alternatives were coming. Enter G-Drive ev SSD ($500). Coming in April, this drive looks the same as those that come with the dock, but it’s what inside that makes a difference.

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$TBD
2Q 2014
Peripherals

LaCie 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2

External storage developer LaCie’s support for the Intel- and Apple-developed Thunderbolt connectivity standard was unwavering, so it’s no surprise to see the company debuting multiple early Thunderbolt 2 solutions. In addition to faster versions of its prior 2big and 5big desktop hard drive systems, LaCie has announced 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2 ($TBD)—a rack-mounted multi-drive solution with your choice of 12TB, 24TB, or 48TB of capacity. While it’s not as fancy on the outside as LaCie’s other storage solutions, the box opens to reveal eight hard drive bays that can be loaded up with 3TB or 6TB Seagate 7200RPM drives, run in tandem for high-speed video editing and storage.

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$700
April 18, 2014
Peripherals

Samsung U28D590D 28-Inch Ultra High Definition LED Monitor

It’s not every day we’d recommend picking up a Samsung device while waiting for Apple to make its move, but there’s an exception to every rule. Samsung’s U28D590D 28-Inch Ultra High Definition LED Monitor ($700) will be available on April 18, 2014, likely before a 4K monitor makes it out of Cupertino. The price is almost certainly lower than what Apple would charge, too, making this an especially appealing option for users with Macs that support ultra-high resolution output.

 

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$TBD
June 2014
Peripherals

Sonnet xMac Pro Server

It almost seems a shame to hide the beautiful, tubular body of the Mac Pro. Sonnet’s new xMac Pro Server ($TBD) is slated to ship in June, and that’s exactly what it does. It’s for a good reason, though — based on the company’s earlier xMac mini Server, this hardware turns the tower into a rack-mountable solution, adding expansion options, too.

 

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$349+
Peripherals

Drobo Drobo (Third Generation)

There are so many different external hard drives out there that do the same things. Plug them in to your Mac, and they can hold extra content, or back up your machine using Time Machine. Drobo is, and always has been different. The company has created a line of desktop storage options that use a technology it calls BeyondRAID, allowing you to easily protect your data, and expand the storage capacity as needed. Newest among them is the third generation of the flagship Drobo ($349+), with a lower price and more advanced features.

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