2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 1850

Say what you will about its computers and software, Microsoft makes some genuinely nice peripherals. The most recent is Wireless Mobile Mouse 1850 ($15), which may just make a travel mouse for your Mac. No, it’s not quite as fancy as a Magic Mouse, but at such a low price, you can’t expect all the bells and whistles.

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Satechi 4-Port USB 3.0 Premium Aluminum Hub

When we first covered Satechi’s Premium 4 Port Aluminum USB Hub in the middle of 2013, we commented on its great looks, but concluded that we were “hoping Satechi quickly catches up with Apple and releases a USB 3 version of the Hub to match the new Mac lineup.” Well, here we are a number of months later, and the company has done just that. 4-Port USB 3.0 Premium Aluminum Hub ($50) is the natural evolution.

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OWC Mercury Pro 16X External Blu-ray Optical Drive

Only years after the first MacBook Air shipped without an optical drive, there’s now only one computer in Apple’s entire lineup that comes with one built-in, and there are rumors that the classic 13” MacBook Pro is going to be cut sooner rather than later. Of course, there’s the standalone SuperDrive for those who need access to CDs and DVDs, but Apple never resolved its licensing issues with the “bag of hurt” known as Blu-ray. A few companies have taken up the mantle, however, including OWC with its new Mercury Pro External 16X Blu-ray Optical Drive ($168). The new drive promises up to 16X write speeds for DVDs and Blu-rays.

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$1,299
Peripherals

LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2

If you’ve been waiting for an insanely fast solid state drive for use in RAW 4K or 3D video editing—and let’s be honest, who hasn’t?—LaCie’s Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 ($1,299) is ready to blaze through your files and wallet at the same time. Palm-sized, beautiful, and promising real-world 1,375MB/second transfer speeds, the drive contains dual RAID 0/1 PCIe SSDs, cooled by a larger but quieter fan than before, with a Mac Pro-matching aluminum enclosure for heat dissipation. While the 1-Terabyte peak capacity is unquestionably low for the price tag, LaCie bets that professional users with thin MacBook Pros will appreciate the size and speed while they’re on the go.

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$80-$140
Peripherals

Razer BlackWidow Keyboards

Razer long ago established itself as one of the premier brands in computer gaming hardware. Now it’s really digging down into the nitty-gritty of it all with its most recent BlackWidow keyboard ($80-$140). The external design of the three keyboards in the line goes back years, but it’s what’s inside the most recent editions that’s noteworthy. Razer has come up with its own mechanical switches, and says they make for a better gaming experience.

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Skoog Music Skoog

The ability to make music just isn’t there for some people — while some may simply lack musical talent, other would-be musicians are unable to participate due to disabilities. Skoog Music’s Skoog ($799) immediately caught our eye with its funky design, but it’s what the squishy cube does that’s really impressive. Believe it or not, it’s an instrument, and it’s made for anyone to be able to play. Plug it into your Mac, and you’re ready to start making music.

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$449-$2,499
Peripherals

LaCie 5TB Hard Drive

Usually it’s new external components for hard drives that get the attention, not the guts. But LaCie has just introduced a brand new drive to fit inside some of its flagship products, and it’s worth taking note. The new 5TB Hard Drive is available in products ranging from $449 to $2,499, including the company’s d2, 2big, and 5big. This means you can now store up to 25TB of data in a single enclosure.

 

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$199-$598
Peripherals

QuickerTek AirPort Extreme AcHex Upgrade

QuickerTek has a proclivity toward making various Wi-Fi accessories, including add-ons for Apple’s base stations. Its latest product is AirPort Extreme AcHex Upgrade ($199-$598). Made for those who love the most recent AirPort Extreme and AirPort Time Capsule, but are dissatisfied with their range, the antenna system boosts the router’s output to three times its normal strength.

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$700-$850
Peripherals

G-Technology G-Drive Pro with Thunderbolt

Looking at the lineup of G-Technology’s drives, it can be tough to distinguish between the many different but similar-looking options. G-Drive Pro with Thunderbolt ($700-$850) makes it pretty clear, though: it’s packing two full-speed Thunderbolt ports to take proper advantage of the fast transfer standard. Coming in 2TB and 4TB storage capacities, the drive is housed inside the trademark aluminum casing that looks great next to a Mac.

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$75-$859
Peripherals

OWC RAM for Mac Pro (Late 2013)

With a $3,000 starting price, it may be hard to justify upgrading the new Mac Pro beyond its basic specs when you make the purchase. Thankfully this unit is mostly user-upgradable, including its RAM, and like always, OWC is ready to go with RAM upgrades ($75-$859). While Apple charges up to $1,200 for the maximum RAM — four 16GB chips equalling 64GB total — OWC charges $341 less for the same array.

 

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$200-$260
Peripherals

Toshiba Canvio Home Backup & Share

Of course it’s a great idea to backup your Mac regularly, and thanks to Time Machine, there are plenty of drives that do that for you easily. The latest drives build upon the basics with convenient implementations, at lower prices. So even though Toshiba’s Canvio Home Backup & Share ($150) is far from the first networked drive around, we’re interested because it’s inexpensive and easy to use.

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$99+
Fall 2014
Peripherals

Palette Palette

For most people, a keyboard and either a mouse or trackpad is plenty to control a Mac. But people using certain apps, such as music and photo editors, benefit from more granular control. That’s where Palette ($99+), from the company of the same name, comes into play. A modular series of physical controls, it allows you to customize a unique work flow.

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Griffin PowerMate Bluetooth

If you’ve been a Mac fan for years, you might remember Griffin’s original PowerMate. A simple silver dial, it was a neat USB accessory that let you scroll or change volume levels as you turned it. Now there’s a sequel: PowerMate Bluetooth ($60). Take one guess as to the big difference here.

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StarTech.com Thunderbolt Laptop Docking Station

Thunderbolt docks have never been too popular, but there’s nothing wrong with having more options. The latest competitor to Belkin’s Thunderbolt Express Dock and the handful of others on the market is Thunderbolt Laptop Docking Station ($280) from StarTech.com. Coming in at $20 less than Belkin’s dock, it offers almost all of the same functionality and includes a meter-long cable, plus an extra port the Belkin dock lacks.

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Seagate Backup Plus Fast Portable Drive

Not every new hard drive shown off at the 2014 CES was a crazy expensive piece of art. Take Seagate’s much more standard looking Backup Plus Fast Portable Drive ($270). At a little over half the price, it delivers four times the storage. That’s right, this portable hard drive packs a whopping 4TB; that’s a first for a drive that’s meant for travel.

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