Welcome to 9to5Mac’s official Mac Vacation Reward Information! This has been an thrilling yr for Mac lovers, because of the cool new 12″ Retina MacBook and 21″ Retina iMac, in addition to nice equipment from Apple and others. I’ve been canvassing all issues Mac all year long, so what you’ll discover inside are some nice choices at varied worth ranges — all the things from stocking stuffers and apps to “greatest present I’ve ever acquired” materials. Additionally included: the best (limited time only) prices I’ve found anywhere on new Mac computers.
Earlier than you go additional, I’d advocate that you simply bookmark and/or ship this web page to your favourite individuals, as a result of both you or somebody you care about goes to get an amazing present from this information. Past nice Macs, apps, and equipment, a few of my picks are designed to assist an previous Mac run higher than new…
Small Stocking Stuffers: USB Hubs, Card Readers + Cables
It’s at all times useful to have additional USB ports — notably powered ones that may recharge your iPad or iPhone even when the Mac is turned off. Moshi’s iLynx 3 ($60) is the hub I exploit, including a number of ports to the entrance (fairly than the inconvenient again) of your Mac. Most Macs have SD Card readers in-built, however none of them has a CompactFlash reader — the cardboard sort utilized by many high-end DSLR cameras. When you solely want CompactFlash help, Lexar’s Professional Workflow CFR1 ($17, shown) is a high-speed USB 3 card reader at an amazing worth — the one I bought for myself, and have discovered to be very dependable. Lexar’s Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader ($34) consists of each SD and CompactFlash slots, useful for 11″ MacBook Air customers. And if you happen to want Lightning cables in your Mac or iOS devices, Anker’s 3-foot Lightning to USB Cables are only $6 each, an amazing deal for approved cables.
If you need one thing extra deluxe than a USB hub and are prepared to transcend stocking stuffer pricing, Thunderbolt 2 docks allow you to join high-speed exhausting drives, audio gadgets, and screens to your Mac with a single Thunderbolt cable — splendid for turning a small MacBook Air or Professional right into a full-fledged desktop machine, or radically increasing the connector choices for any Mac. My information to the best Thunderbolt 2 docks picks OWC’s Thunderbolt 2 Dock ($224, proven at middle) because the high general selection for options and pricing, however there are different alternate options.
Ring Out With Pleasure: Nice Mac Audio system + Headphones
Having spent years loving varied inexpensive audio system from JBL and guardian model Harman, notably together with the long-lasting clear Soundsticks ($170, additionally obtainable in a $188 Bluetooth wireless version), I’ve shifted over to extra modern Mac-matching audio equipment in recent times. Bowers & Wilkins’ MM-1 ($499, center) locations extra highly effective, higher-quality audio drivers inside two black and silver housings that may straddle the perimeters of any Mac display, whereas its similar-looking A7 ($800 new, $640 recertified) is much more highly effective, an all-in-one enclosure with a booming subwoofer and AirPlay streaming capabilities. The corporate’s P5 Headphones ($300 wired, $400 wireless, reviewed here) have equally Mac-matching seems and glorious sound high quality; their leather-based earpads are probably the most comfy I’ve ever felt in a pair of on-ear headphones. Pair them with a $20 BlueLounge Posto headphone stand to declutter your desk.
The Final Mac Improve: A Stable State Drive (SSD)
Except you’re prepared to purchase a model new Mac, the one greatest method to make your previous Mac run loopy quick (and quiet) is to put in a Stable State Drive, also referred to as an SSD. The SSD replaces both your Mac’s conventional exhausting drive, which is a bit trickier however yields large pace enhancements, or the SuperDrive CD/DVD drive, which is less complicated however typically not as quick. Including an SSD made my older iMac 5 instances quicker for loading apps and recordsdata, principally instantaneous, and enabled it to wake and sleep in seconds. To do that, you’ll want an SSD (go together with Samsung’s awesome 850 EVO for desktop Macs, or model-specific alternatives for MacBooks), this special screwdriver kit to open any Mac, and for sure Macs, a thermal sensor cable.
Listed below are my full SSD guides for iMac hard drives, MacBook Air/Pro SSD capacity/speed bumps, and MacBook, Mac mini, and Mac Pro hard drives. Alternately, right here’s my guide to swapping out the SuperDrives in iMacs, Mac minis, and MacBooks for SSDs. Readers have despatched me so many “thanks!” emails that I do know they’ve been thrilled with their SSDs. Your previous exhausting drive or SuperDrive can go in an affordable external USB enclosure as a spare.
Magical Holidays: Apple’s Magic Keyboard + Trackpad 2, or Logitech Rivals
The mouse — part of Macs since 1984 — is on the best way out, as multi-touch gestures proceed to develop into extra integral components of the Mac and iOS expertise. Rechargeable keyboards are additionally gaining popularity. Earlier this yr, I wrote 9to5Mac’s guide to the best Mac keyboards, anticipating that Apple was engaged on higher sequels to its getting older Wi-fi Keyboard and Magic Trackpad. Lo and behold, Apple launched the $99 Magic Keyboard and $129 Magic Trackpad 2 (both reviewed here), and so they’re excellent items — the types of things any Mac consumer would love, however maybe not purchase on their very own. Every comes with a Lightning cable to recharge an built-in rechargeable battery. By comparability, Logitech’s $95 K811 Easy-Switch Keyboard provides backlit keys and 3-device simultaneous pairing for a similar worth, whereas its $75 Rechargeable Trackpad is an alternate with multi-touch help at a a lot cheaper price. When you’re OK with AA batteries, Apple’s older Magic Trackpad is out there for $70.
Workplace Decor, Desk Declutterers + Stands
That will help you kind by means of the numerous Mac-matching lamps, posters, desks, cabinets and chairs on the market, my information to the best Mac office decor offers a take a look at nice choices throughout varied supplies and kinds. A rare sale on Herman Miller’s famous Aeron chairs and Embody desks makes them splendid high-end items for the vacations; BlueLounge’s $25 Portiko power strips and $10 Pixi cable managers are good entry-level choices.
I’ve written a guide to the best Mac stands and mounts, starting from transportable flip-out stands to stationary desktop stands with storage inside. For closed MacBooks, Twelve South’s new BookArc ($50) is an efficient decide; the identical firm’s HiRise ($70) is a greater decide for open MacBooks. My iMac sits on Just Mobile’s Drawer ($58, right), which matches the silver and black seems of Macs whereas storing peripherals, spare change, cables, and different desktop litter.
Digital Items: A Few Nice Apps
It’s exhausting to offer apps as items, however I’ve three Mac app suggestions that are high picks of 9to5’s editors. Pixelmator ($15) is a much more inexpensive various to Adobe’s Photoshop, together with picture enhancing and portray instruments which can be optimized for every new model of OS X, with full iOS Pixelmator compatibility. Macphun’s Creative Kit 2016 ($150, currently on sale for $90) is an unimaginable bundle of picture processing instruments; my review explains how they can be utilized to make even boring pictures superior. Tweetbot ($5) is the Twitter consumer your Mac deserves, that includes full OS X El Capitan compatibility and quite a few customizations, together with single- or multi-column modes.
Retailer Images, Movies, Music + Backups: Nice Exterior Exhausting Drives
As picture, video, and music collections develop, most Macs pressure to carry all the things with out working out of area. That’s why exterior exhausting drives have develop into so in style — they retailer no matter your Mac can’t handle by itself. If in case you have an iMac, Mac mini, or Mac Professional, the exterior drive I’d advocate is G-Know-how’s inexpensive G-Drive USB (left). Beginning at $150 for a 2TB model, you possibly can double its capacity for only $40 more, an amazing funding in a quick, professional-grade drive that can final for years. For MacBook Air and Professional use, transportable drives such as OWC’s thumbdrive-sized Envoy Pro mini (middle), Seagate’s slim Seven and LaCie’s stylish Mirror (each at proper) supply tradeoffs in dimension, capability, and pricing. My article discusses the benefits and tradeoffs you’ll get from cheaper, higher-capacity drives versus more expensive, longer-lasting ones, so you possibly can select what’s greatest in your wants.
Free Your Mac: The Cheaper iTunes Server
Years in the past, the one method to run a small, quiet iTunes media server was to purchase a Mac mini — a $450 solution I went with and appreciated. However this yr, I wished to free my Mac from server obligation, so I researched less expensive options. For $113, the iview Cyber PC offers you the flexibility to run the PC model of iTunes off a pc the scale of a thumb drive, plugged instantly into any HDTV’s HDMI port. Pair it with a tiny $38 SanDisk 128GB USB flash drive and also you’ll have area to share motion pictures and music throughout your Apple TVs, iOS gadgets, and different computer systems with ease.
Give The Reward Of Multitasking: Further RAM
Putting in extra RAM is straightforward for older Macs. My information to choosing and installing quality Mac RAM ($90-$180) explains which Macs are able to being upgraded, which can assist them run a number of apps with out slowdowns. You’ll typically want a small Phillips head screwdriver (discovered alongside many others in this screwdriver kit) to open your Mac; little or no talent is required for RAM set up.
Energy-Up: Maintain Your MacBook Working For Days
Protecting a MacBook working for days with out entry to a wall outlet isn’t simple. ChargeTech’s ChargeAll battery packs (proven above, reviewed here) work as transportable wall shops, ranging from $86 to $225 relying on the ability you want. The $150 model proven above provides 5-7 hours of extra Mac run time. Customers of the USB-C-powered 12″ Retina MacBook have a neater various: Anker’s PowerCore+ 20100 ($70) is a USB-C charger with greater than sufficient energy to totally refuel the super-thin Mac.
The Greatest Reward Of All: A New Mac
A brand new Mac is the type of present most individuals dream about — the very best computer systems Apple makes immediately for work or faculty. My private suggestions can be the next Macs for the next conditions:
- A Retina iMac for desktop workplace and/or severe images/videography use.
- A Retina MacBook Pro for transportable productiveness with Apple’s greatest general mixture of energy, pricing, and display high quality.
- An 11″ MacBook Air or 12″ Retina MacBook for transportable work or faculty use when energy is much less essential than pricing and bodily dimension. Go along with the Air for a cheaper price and extra energy, the Retina MacBook for a greater display and fewer energy at a better worth.
- A Mac mini to switch your getting older Home windows PC, or function a Mac media middle/server in your residence.
Whatever the Mac you select, the very best costs I’ve seen anyplace are at B&H Photo Video. When you’re in any state apart from New York, you’ll save so much on gross sales tax with B&H, too.
Extra From This Creator
Try extra of my reviews, How-To guides and editorials for 9to5Mac here! I’ve revealed a whole lot of totally different matters of curiosity to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch customers, in addition to a great holiday gift guide for iPhone users, and a separate holiday gift guide for Apple photographers.
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