The Best Mac Accessories and Upgrades

Over the past six months, I’ve published quite a few tutorials to help Mac users improve the performance of older computers, as well as some great guides to the best Mac accessories across a variety of categories. Today, I’m tying them all together in this handy, one-stop roundup of the best Mac accessories and upgrades.

This guide walks you through everything: in one place, you can learn about the best Mac hard drives, RAM upgrades, docks, keyboards, trackpads, stands, bags, and travel accessories out there. And you can also get free apps to improve your Mac’s storage and responsiveness, find plain English explanations of your Mac’s technical specs, and learn about the little security screws Apple uses to tamper-proof its machines. There’s a lot inside, so you may want to bookmark this piece for future reference!…

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Opinion: Should AAPL stockholders be worried about Jony Ive’s more backseat role?

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The Apple world this morning seems divided between those who seemingly haven’t grasped the implications of Apple’s ‘promotion’ of Jony Ive, merely taking Cook’s memo at face value, and those switching into full-on ‘Apple is doomed’ mode. The reality is, I think, a little more nuanced.

It seems pretty clear that this move is, as Seth outlined earlier, about Ive taking more of a backseat role – and especially being able to spend a lot more time back in England. Apple’s decision to announce the news on a day when the US markets were closed was obviously not coincidence.

Apple didn’t want to see a knee-jerk panic reaction on Wall Street setting its stock diving. But is there reason to panic? Or is it all much ado about nothing? Or something between the two … ?  Read more

Review: Kanex USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter solves the WiFi dead zone problem for the 12-inch MacBook

Kanex USB-C to Ethernet

Adapters for adding thicker ports are nothing new for Apple’s modern line of notebooks. Even the high-end Retina MacBook Pro decidedly excludes a direct Ethernet connection, and Apple’s MacBook Air and new ultrathin 12-inch MacBook are especially too thin for a wired connection to the Internet without relying on an adapter in the middle.

While modern WiFi is fine for most everyday situations, even Apple acknowledges that a wired connection is necessary in some instances. To remedy this, it sells a $29 USB Ethernet Adapter and a faster $29 Thunderbolt to Ethernet Adapter. The 12-inch MacBook has neither port, however, additionally requiring Apple’s $19 USB-C to USB Adapter to work with the slower adapter.

Fortunately with USB-C being a new industry standard, accessory makers like Kanex are ready with solutions like the $29.95 USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter made for the new 12-inch MacBook and other USB-C computers… Read more

12-inch MacBook month review: A great new Mac if you manage your expectations (Video)

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For the last month, I’ve been using Apple’s new 12-inch Retina MacBook almost exclusively. There’s no denying that’s it’s underpowered when compared to other models on the market, but is its portability worth the performance sacrifice? Can you really get anything done with a relatively small display, an Intel Core M processor, and more importantly, zero traditional USB ports?

This won’t be an in-depth review of features and performance (check out Zac’s take on the MacBook for an in-depth look), but instead, I’ve mainly focused on my personal experiences over the month I’ve been using it. Does the Retina MacBook live up to the hype? Let’s go ahead and find out…

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Review: AAXA’s ST200 LED Pico Projector beams bright, color-accurate HD video from an Apple TV-sized box

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Even though I’ve had a fair bit of experience with video projectors, I took Celluon’s PicoPro somewhat for granted when I reviewed it this January. I praised the pocket-sized projector, which squeezed a 720p laser video display and speaker into the footprint of an iPhone 6 Plus, but I didn’t triple-underscore how much easier it was to use than most of its rivals. PicoPro worked so well and so quietly with such little effort that I hardly thought about it.

AAXA’s ST200 Short Throw LED Pico Projector ($299) is the newest of the traditional projectors PicoPro is challenging. It has roughly the same footprint and 1280×720 resolution as PicoPro, but it’s around 2.5 times thicker, since it uses a lightbulb-illuminated LED projection engine — just like almost every other projector on the market. There’s an audible fan inside, and because ST200 needs to power that fan and the lightbulb, it can’t match PicoPro in battery life. It also requires more manual user adjustment when you’re setting it up.

But ST200 is a markedly better video projector and audio device when judged on raw output quality, and less expensive, besides. If you’re looking for a compact way to display 720p video from an Apple TV, Mac, or iOS device at up to a 100″ diagonal size, ST200 delivers brighter, more color-accurate video output than PicoPro, more powerful speaker output, and — if you appreciate this — many more settings to play with. Read on for the details…

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Review: Vinsic’s 20,000mAh ultra slim Power Bank can power your 12-inch MacBook anywhere

Vinsic ultra slim power bank

The new USB-C port on Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook (review) is both a gift and a curse. If you frequently connect legacy USB peripherals to your notebook, then you’ll have to deal with using an adapter between your old gear and your new laptop each time (and should possibly consider another machine for now). The move from Apple’s proprietary MagSafe 2 connection to the new industry standard USB Type C port for charging, however, opens up the door to third-party power adapters and portable battery packs.

During my initial MacBook evaluation, I verified this possibility with a 13,000mAh portable battery pack I had on hand. Vinsic’s 20,000mAh ultra slim power bank is a giant battery that offers even more juice for your iPhone, iPad, or 12-inch MacBook with a sleek design and an LED status indicator…

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First 12″ MacBook 1.3GHz benchmarks: top model rivals 1.4GHz iMac, 2014 MacBook Air

Following Apple’s shipments of the first 1.3GHz versions of the 12″ MacBook this week, benchmarks have started to appear online for the new Intel Core M-5Y71 machine. Geekbench 3 shows the following results for each model, which vary based on the testing mode (32/64-bit) and number of processor cores used (single or multiple cores).

MacBook 1.1GHz

  • 32-Bit: Single-Core Average 2212, Multi-Core Average 4070
  • 64-Bit: Single-Core Average 2428, Multi-Core Average 4592

MacBook 1.2GHz

  • 32-Bit: Single-Core Average 2348, Multi-Core Average 4603
  • 64-Bit: Single-Core Average 2579, Multi-Core Average 5185

MacBook 1.3GHz

  • 32-Bit: Single-Core Average 2387, Multi-Core Average 4673
  • 64-Bit: Single-Core Average 2816, Multi-Core Average 5596

The 1.3GHz MacBook’s 64-Bit scores represent 16%-22% improvements over the 1.1GHz model, and 8%-9% gains over the 1.2GHz model. On April 27, we updated the 32-Bit scores now that additional benchmarks have been posted; they show smaller gains over the lower-speed models. More details are below…

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Review: ChargeTech’s ChargeAll Portable Power Outlet lets any MacBook (or other Apple device) refuel on the road

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The first time I found an AC wall outlet under my seat on an airplane, I realized that I could use my MacBook Pro with its wall charger for hours, even if I’d partially discharged the battery before boarding. Later, when I rode a bus with an AC outlet onboard, the freedom to enjoy my laptop for hours made the long trip feel brief. But I’ve had far more trips without AC outlets than with them, and there have been plenty of times when my MacBook could really have used a recharge mid-trip.

That’s why I’m genuinely excited about ChargeTech’s ChargeAll Portable Power Outlet ($150-$200), which primarily exists to give you access to an AC outlet literally anywhere you might be — something that I can’t believe has taken so long to become available. There are two versions, one with 12,000mAh of power, and the other with 18,000mAh of power, either with enough energy to keep your MacBook going for hours on the road. Both units have the overcharge and short circuit protection you’d expect from a surge board — the difference is that you can toss them into a bag or a car…

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Apple patent application shows how Force Touch could in future simulate more than just clicks

Apple's existing Force Touch mechanism

Apple’s existing Force Touch mechanism

An Apple patent application published today shows that the Force Touch trackpad used in the 12-inch MacBook and latest 13-inch MacBook Pro could get more sophisticated in future versions. The patent describes how a mix of vibration and temperature could fool your finger into ‘feeling’ different surfaces, such as metal and wood.

For example, a glass surface may be controlled to have the temperature of a relatively cooler metal material and/or a relatively warmer wood material […]

In some cases, the temperature may be varied over time, such as in response to one or more touches detected using one or more touch sensors. For example, a metal material may increase in temperature while touched in response to heat from a user’s finger.

The patent describes how vibrations could be used to simulate a textured surface, such as the grain of a wooden surface …  Read more

Happy Hour Podcast 011 | Living with the new 12-inch MacBook

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What exactly is it like to live (and work) with Apple’s new 12-inch MacBook? We’ve been using it for the last week or so and have some initial impressions to share. Along with that, it looks like Scott Forstall has surfaced, but you’ll never guess what he’s doing now. We also get into new Apple Watch availability details. The Happy Hour podcast is available for download on iTunes and through our dedicated RSS feed…

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1.3 GHz, built-to-order MacBooks begin preparing to ship following charges

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Apple has started to charge the credit cards of customers who ordered the highest-end 1.3GHz version of the 12-inch MacBook, according to emails from 9to5Mac readers. The customized, built-to-order MacBook went on sale earlier this month with 3-4 week shipping times for even the earliest orders, and Apple originally promised a delivery timeframe of May 8th to May 15th. As we saw with Apple Watch credit card charges earlier this week, it seems plausible that Apple already charging customers for the 1.3 GHz MacBook could indicate that shipments of the new laptop will begin occurring sooner than originally expected. However, readers have yet to report any signs of UPS or FedEx tracking numbers, or their Apple Online Store status pages moving from “Processing” to “Preparing for Shipment.”

Update: Several readers reporting that their MacBooks are now preparing to ship, several weeks early:

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Apple Retail SVP Ahrendts tackles Apple Watch/MacBook launch questions in 5-minute employee video

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The video accompanying the memo Ahrendts sent to staff last week has been published by Mac4Ever. Apple retail boss Angela Ahrendts clarified some of the details of the Apple Watch and MacBook rollouts that are starting this week. The executive confirmed that for the time being, watch orders will only be available online due to extremely limited supply.

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