The best travel accessories for your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Retina MacBook

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Traveling with any MacBook is a lot easier today than it was five or ten years ago. Apple’s latest laptops consume much less space than their predecessors, and last much longer when they’re in active use. Whether it’s on a seat-back tray or resting in your lap, your MacBook can deliver quite a few hours of productive work time, video viewing, or even gameplay without assistance. But it can do even more if you bring the right accessories along.

My goal is to help you choose the best items to carry with you on the road — the type of items I’ve spent years testing. The picks below are highly practical and focused to make good use of space and address real-world concerns that many travelers have. Read on!

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How-To: Choose the best stand or desktop mount for Apple’s iPads and Macs

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Apple currently sells more “laptop” than “desktop” Macs, but in reality, most Macs will be used substantially on flat surfaces — desks, tables, and sometimes nightstands. iPads are more lap-friendly, but also tend to get used upright, particularly for watching videos and access in the kitchen. Since I’ve spent a lot of time testing Apple device stands and mounts, I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you, so you can choose the solution that best suits your Mac, iPad, or both at the same time.

Below, I’ve hand-picked options for different types of users, starting with passive MacBook stands such as Twelve South’s BookArc for MacBook Pro ($50). Made from Mac-matching aluminum with gray rubber inserts, BookArc is designed to safely hold a MacBook Pro upright so that its ports and SD card reader are easily accessible. Twelve South also sells a smaller version of BookArc for the MacBook Air, a bigger BookArc for the Mac Pro, and an earthy version called BookArc mod for fans of wood. That’s a rarity, as most Mac and iPad stands are designed to match Apple’s products, as you’ll see inside…

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Review: Swapping MagSafe for SnapFit, BatteryBox adds 60Wh of portable power to MacBook Airs, Pros

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Thanks to Apple’s patent on the MagSafe connectors used in MacBook Airs and Pros, the list of third-party external batteries for MacBooks previously began with Hyper’s HyperJuice/HyperJuice 2 and ended with Lenmar’s ChugPlug — not much of a variety. Apple’s legal department chased Hyper for attaching harvested MagSafe connectors to its batteries, and Lenmar chose a workaround, sending ChugPlug’s power indirectly though an Apple wall adapter. Neither solution was ideal. It took until now for a completely different third solution to appear: BatteryBox ($220) from Gbatteries Energy.

BatteryBox is the first MacBook power option I’ve tested that doesn’t require either MagSafe or an Apple wall adapter to function. Since the developers went out of their way to create something that won’t run afoul of Apple’s legal team, there’s absolutely nothing Mac-like about its brick-like rectangular design. And it’s not cheap, priced between the two HyperJuices and higher than ChugPlug, which can now be had for only $100. But it works, adding a 60-watt-hour additional battery to the 38-95-watt-hour cells already inside MacBook Airs and Pros. So if you’re on the road without access to a power outlet and need to add hours of additional runtime to your Apple laptop, this is a viable alternative….

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Mini-review: Oneadapter Twist/Plus World Charging Station (Video)

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Standardizing on USB was arguably the best thing ever to happen to gadget lovers. Instead of having an unholy mess of chargers cluttering up your home, you just need a few USB cables and something to plug them into. I’ve previously reviewed the Lightning Rabbit Triforce and Truffol Station 5 USB chargers, which offer stylish options for the home or office. We’ve also reviewed a bunch of others.

When travelling, though, I pack light. I tend to just charge everything from my MacBook Pro, which is convenient but doesn’t offer the fastest of charging speeds. The Oneadapter Twist and Twist Plus World Charging Stations are designed to overcome that issue, offering a combined USB charger and international plug adapter …  Read more

Brace yourself – Core M benchmarks illustrate likely low-end performance from new MacBook

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Lenovo’s Yoga 3 Pro convertible laptop–which uses the same Broadwell Core M processor as Apple’s new ultraportable MacBook–has provided the first look at its likely performance. AnandTech‘s numbers show that in overall performance terms, the Yoga 3 Pro was delivering a little over 90% of the performance of the early 2014 MacBook Air which has far fewer pixels than the Retina MacBook…

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Apple’s 2015 MacBook Pro and Air models now at US retailers Amazon, Best Buy, MacMall, B&H and others

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Refreshed 2015 MacBook Air and Pro models are now available at major US retailers following their announcement at Apple’s Spring Forward event on March 9th.

Currently, Amazon has all of the new MacBook Air models in stock and ready to ship, from $899. The new MacBook Pro models are also listed on Amazon as well, although supply is currently more limited. 2014 versions are discounted.

B&H offers $5 off and no tax at the time of purchase outside of New York on the new MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros as well as a free copy of Parallels. 2014 versions are discounted.

MacMall also offers $5 off the new MacBook Airs and Pros and tax only in a few states. 2014 models discounted.

Meanwhile if you want to get your hands on one today, Best Buy offers free site to store on the new MacBook Pro/Airs which will have stock varied by location. 2014 models discounted.

If you want to save some real money, 2014 models are seeing deep discounts at 9to5toys. At the Apple Refurb store you can pick up some heavy discounts on previous models while extraordinary savings are available at B&H and Best Buy on 2014 models including a student deal that chops the 2014 models down to $750 .

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Opinion: Are we bidding farewell to MagSafe, and does it matter?

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When Apple unveiled the new 12-inch MacBook with just a single port (plus a headphone socket), it was doing not just one radical thing, but two. Reducing a machine to just one port was the first; dropping MagSafe was the second.

MagSafe has been one of the key features of MacBooks since it was first introduced by Apple in 2006. It is still highlighted on Apple’s website as one of the key design features of both the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

MacBook Air offers innovations you won’t find anywhere else — like the MagSafe 2 power connector, which breaks cleanly away from the notebook if you accidentally trip over the power cord.

The magnetic power cord attaches securely and detaches cleanly.

It’s one of the features that even the most die-hard opponents of Macs tend to grudgingly admit is a good idea. And yet that (very) shiny new MacBook aimed at the largest slice of the MacBook Air market doesn’t have it. Is this a one-off move for a single model, or will we see USB C power replacing MagSafe across the entire MacBook range … ?  Read more

iFixit dismantles the early 2015 MacBook Airs, finds small changes to past designs

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iFixit has just dismantled the refreshed early 2015 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models that Apple unveiled earlier this week, featuring new Intel Broadwell CPUs, improved graphics and other minor tweaks. Although the models mostly remain the same apart from the spec bumps Apple announced on stage, iFixit gives us its usual rundown on changes it discovered… Read more

Opinion: Apple’s Spring Forward event signals huge changes ahead for Mac, iPad, Apple TV + Apple itself

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Although many people expected that Apple’s Spring Forward event would mostly focus on the Apple Watch, more than half of the event — notably, the first part — covered other topics. Collectively, there were so many interesting developments that their individual significance was somewhat lost, particularly given that long-awaited Watch pricing news wrapped up the event.

That’s why I wanted to reconsider what Spring Forward revealed about some of Apple’s non-Watch products. Some of the announcements signal that big changes are ahead for Apple’s Mac, iPad, and Apple TV product lines, as well as Apple itself. Read on for my thoughts, and add yours to the comments section below…

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USB-C cable gallery, compare to Lightning and Micro-USB, specs and Apple’s future

We’ve been poring over Apple’s change to the 8.4mm by 2.6mm USB Type C standard since we got tipped the design of the new MacBook late last year. It is a big change for Apple and puts the future of longstanding technologies like Thunderbolt and MagSafe into questionable status.  Even Lightning seems a whole lot more vulnerable when an adapter that is marginally bigger, but has the whole industry behind it, shows up in Apple’s future flagship laptop.

Some quick, fun facts on USB Type C that make it pretty amazing: Read more

Opinion: Why I’m not the target for the new ultra-portable MacBook, but most MacBook Air owners are

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Mark Gurman nailed it, so there were few surprises for 9to5Mac readers in yesterday’s launch of Apple’s new, ultra-portable 12-inch MacBook. But one thing we didn’t know for sure then was whether the new machine would be a cut-down, entry-level MacBook or a high-spec premium one.

The answer, we now know, is neither–or both. It’s cut-down in some respects, specced-up in others. A lower-spec CPU, but more RAM and SSD storage. A lower-spec GPU, but a higher-res screen. It loses Thunderbolt, but gains USB C. Clever things done with battery space and power-efficiency, but potential gains in battery-life wiped out by the smaller, thinner form-factor.

It makes for a slightly odd positioning in the line-up …  Read more