2014 iPad iPhone iPod Buyers' Guide from iLounge.com

LaCie Sphère

If you’re thinking $500 is crazy expensive for a 1TB speaker these days, we’re right there with you. But exceptions can be made for works of art, and LaCie’s new Sphère ($490) may be one of them. Designed, handcrafted and silvered by Christofle in France, it’s definitely a looker. The specs may not be killer, but you’re paying for the packaging with this one.

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Corning Thunderbolt Optical Cable

We’re not necessarily suggesting you run out an drop more than the cost of an iPad mini on a cable. But if you’re so inclined, Corning is now giving you the ability to do so. Its Thunderbolt Optical Cable ($330) is a solution for a niche market. At 10 meters, it’s much longer than Apple’s standard Thunderbolt cable, yet performs at Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 speeds thanks to the optical technology inside.

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$500-$900
Peripherals

Elgato Thunderbolt Drive+

Several years after the Thunderbolt high-speed cable standard was first introduced, most of the drives using Apple’s connector are large, professional-grade, desktop-specific devices. Some time ago, Elgato introduced a more portable solution in the Thunderbolt SSD, and nearly two years later, it has returned with a sequel called Thunderbolt Drive+ ($500-$900). The price has jumped significantly from the original model, but so have the performance and capacity of the new drive. Updated December 20, 2013 with new photos and hands-on testing results!

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$3595
Peripherals

Sharp 32" PN-K321 4K Ultra HD LED Monitor

If you were holding out hope that an Apple-branded 4K monitor would arrive in stores alongside the new Mac Pro, you’ll probably have to keep holding your breath until later in 2014. But even though there’s no new Thunderbolt Display from Cupertino, the Apple Store does have a launch day 4K display option available: Sharp’s 32” PN-K321 4K Ultra HD LED Monitor ($3595). Yes, it costs more than the base Mac Pro tower itself, but isn’t a pretty picture (and the ability to edit 4K movies) worth it?

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NuMac NMBDR6x Blu-ray Drive

We’ve been refreshing Apple’s website since the calendar flipped over to December, waiting to see when the new Mac Pro is going to pop up. We’re still waiting, but in the meantime, there are new accessories to stock up on, such as NuMac’s NMBDR6x Blu-ray Drive ($149). Made to match the new design of the upcoming drive-free Mac Pro, it adds the “bag of hurt” functionality that Apple has continued to avoid.

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Kanex simpleDock

It’s no secret that USB ports are always at a premium, especially when you’re using a MacBook with only two. There are plenty of hub solutions out there that add on extras, but Kanex’s simpleDock has to be one of the cooler ones. Made of silver-colored zinc and black plastic, it will look good next to your favorite Mac, and adds features other than just ports. Update: We’ve added additional thoughts from hands-on testing of a simpleDock, below!

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$3,500
Peripherals

Dell UltraSharp 32 UltraHD Monitor

No, we haven’t gone crazy: we’re actually talking about a Dell monitor. But it’s not just any old screen—it’s the new UltraSharp 32 UltraHD Monitor ($3,500). This 31.5” monitor has enough pixels to support the 4K video format with a 3840 x 2160 resolution, making it ideal for the upcoming Mac Pro—though it also costs $500 more than Apple’s base model.

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$170-$550
Peripherals

Sanho HyperJuice 1.5 External Battery for MacBook/iPad/USB

Sanho’s HyperJuice 1.5 ($170-$550) is an external battery pack for your Mac, ranging in capacities from 60Wh (16,000mAh) to 222Wh (61,000mAh). As you might guess, the large batteries allow you to juice up your favorite Mac on the go, and run for up to an extra 53 hours, depending on the machine and capacity you’re using. Each also has twin 12W USB outputs that are capable of recharging even the power-hungriest iPads at full speeds. The hitch: MacBooks use the proprietary MagSafe standard to draw power. As a result, there’s some work to be done before HyperJuice can make an electronic connection for charging. Update: We’ve received HyperJuice 1.5 to check out; click through for our thoughts!

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€17-€25/~$23-$34
Peripherals

PKparis K'lip Flash Drive

PKparis enjoys playing around with flash drives—we previously covered its minuscule K1, and now the company is back with K’lip (€17-€25/~$23-$34). Coming in 16 and 32GB capacities, it’s not the physical size that’s the star here, but rather the waterproof metal casing and integrated carabiner clip.

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$40
November 20, 2013
Peripherals

Atama Sesame

Concerned about safety on your Mac? Worried someone might break in when you step away? That’s exactly the issue Atama’s Sesame ($40) is made to address. A small fob, Sesame uses Bluetooth 4.0 to automatically lock and unlock your Mac, all based on proximity. In an office setting, it could be a really valuable solution.

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$99
November 15, 2013
Peripherals

Connected Data Transporter Sync

There’s no question that cloud storage is a valuable technological advancement, however many people have understandable security concerns about sending personal information to big companies’ servers. With its Transporter products, Connected Data provides the benefits of providing access to your data from anywhere while keeping it stored safely in your own home, instead of on somebody else’s server farm. Transporter Sync ($99) is the latest member of the family, and also the least expensive. 

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CalDigit Thunderbolt Station

Consumers may not be clamoring for Thunderbolt accessories, but considering the number of products that continue to be introduced, we have to imagine there’s a market for them at the professional level. The latest is CalDigit’s Thunderbolt Station ($199). Much like Belkin’s long-delayed, finally-released Thunderbolt Express Dock, this breakout box turns a single Thunderbolt connection into a handful of useful ports.

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$TBD
November 2013
Peripherals

Promise Pegasus2

Thunderbolt 2 is real! We expected the new standard to make its debut with the Mac Pro, and while that was the first machine with announced support, the new MacBook Pro with Retina displays have the ports too, and are available now. To go along with them, we’re starting to see some of the first accessories made to support Thunderbolt 2, including Promise’s Pegasus2 ($TBD).

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€35-€65/~$48-$89
Peripherals

PKparis K'1 USB 3.0 Flash Drive

We never cease to be amazed by how small storage devices are becoming. Take PKparis’ K’1 USB 3.0 Flash Drive (€35-€65/~$48-$89). Available in 32GB and 64GB capacities, there really aren’t any words to describe it other than tiny. Plug it into your Mac, and it almost disappears, adding additional storage without adding much profile.

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Satechi Smart Travel Router/Travel Adapter with USB Port

There are some combinations in the technology world that are hard to see coming. Satechi’s Smart Travel Router/Travel Adapter with USB Port ($45) is one of them. That’s not to say it’s a bad idea, but packing a world outlet adapter, router, and USB charging station into one device certainly isn’t something that would pop into our heads. To travelers though, this combination may in fact make a lot of sense.

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