We’ve already heard from Michael, Zac, and Ben on their last minute gift picks for the holiday season. For my gift guide, I’ve decided to only include products that I’ve personally been using on a daily basis. I review a lot of products in all of these categories, and below you’ll find only the best of the best that have earned a permanent place in my setup for both at home and on the go:
The best 4K & 5K displays for Mac
Synology DiskStation |
We’ve reviewed a couple of Synology’s network attached storage products and love them. It’s newly redesigned web-based DiskStation Manager OS looks better than ever on the Mac, and a number of free slick iOS apps make it easy to access all of your content from the cloud, AirPlay video, and auto backup photos and more from your iPhone or iPad. The company sells 1 and 2-bay DiskStations as low as $150, and it also offers more expensive options for business users that can scale up to 24 drives. If you haven’t entered the world of network attached storage, now is the time. There’s nothing quite like having total control over your content in the cloud and not having to worry about upload limits and monthly fees.
iOS apps exist for just about everything you want to access from your DiskStation including videos, audio, photos, organizing files, and you can also manage your downloads, monitor network connected cameras, and much more. Check out our full review of the DiskStation here.
Mujjo touchscreen gloves |
There are a lot of touchscreen gloves available on Amazon and elsewhere, but we’ve yet to come across a pair that lives up the quality of one of the original companies making the product, Dutch designer Mujjo. Unlike others, Mujjo’s gloves allow you to use your knuckle, palm, fingertips or just about any part of your hand to interact with the display, opposed to others that have a small touch area on the fingertips only. Available in various colors in fabric and leather options for men and women, the gloves range from €20 to €74.
Samsung Galaxy NX |
Until Apple decides to make professional quality camera that runs iOS, I’ll be sticking to the first pro mirrorless camera running Android with the new Samsung Galaxy NX ($1,600). The camera essentially builds in a high-end smartphone with a gorgeous 4.8-inch touch display right into the back of the camera, and that means WiFi, LTE, and access to all the apps on Google Play. The Galaxy NX is truly a first of its kind camera for professionals that follows in the footsteps of the more consumer oriented Galaxy Camera. There’s really nothing else like it and if, like me, you’ve grown tired of the stale camera user interfaces that feel outdated compared to our smartphones, the Galaxy NX will definitely be a breath of fresh air. You can check out my full review here.
iPad DJ controllers |
DJ midi controllers used to be relatively intimidating to the average person, but thanks to iPad just about anyone these days can be up and running with the basics in a matter of minutes. No need to fumble around mapping your controller to your favorite programs on the Mac, now you can simply drop in your iPad and begin mixing immediately with built in support for apps like Djay and Traktor DJ. My go to recommendation would be anything from Native Instruments: The $199 Z1 or Kontrol S4 will work great with its Traktor DJ software.
Kata camera backpacks |
I’ve looked for a long time for the perfect backpack to carry my MacBook alongside my camera gear when traveling and covering shows for 9to5. I had the same problem with the majority of bags I’ve tried: most were big, bulky, and uncomfortable while catering only to professionals that wanted to carry just camera gear. I needed a lightweight, compact backpack that would protect my Galaxy NX and DSLR, but also have room for my MacBook, iPad, and other gadgets I need on me when traveling. I finally found the perfect bags from a company called KATA.
I personally use the $85 (reg. $150) KATA Bumblebee Backpack in black (pictured in dark grey on the right), but the company has a ton of great configurations no matter what your needs for carrying gear are. Another great option for those that need more room for camera gear is the $199 Mini Bee (pictured right). If you’re looking for a backpack with compartments for your camera, you won’t be disappointed with anything from KATA’s collection.
Apogee Duet |
Whether you are an experienced professional or just making demoes on your Mac or iPad, Apogee is widely considered to offer some of the best quality audio recording devices available. They are also the only interfaces around that actually look like Apple could have designed them.
The Apogee Duet is an expensive option compared to others at $649, but you get what you pay for here, and in this case it’s quality. The Duet comes with 2 analog combo Line/Mic/Instrument inputs along with Apogee’s world class A/D conversion at up to 24 bit/192kHz. Add that to the 4 analog outputs (2x balanced line outs for monitoring and 1 1/4″ stereo headphone out), and you’ve easily got one of/ if not the best singer/songwriter home demo recording devices on the market. The Duet, and most of Apogee’s other sub $2000 interfaces work with all iOS and Mac Core Audio compatible applications and ship with everything you need including a Lightning and 30 pin iOS cable.
KRK Studio Monitors |
KRK’s monitors have long been a standard in the recording industry, offering up some of the best sounding speakers available with its V-series. They’ll cost you around $600 a side with the V-series, but KRK’s more affordable line of monitors — the Rokit series — are also a great sounding option as well for a home studio setup. You can pick up a pair of 5-inch Rokits for as low as $300, compared to a bangin’ $1200 set of VXT 8s.
Whether you are just watching movies, listening to music, or doing more intensive video editing and audio work, there simply isn’t a better monitoring solution out there in my opinion.
Pad & Quill cases |
Handcrafted, high-quality leather and wood cases from Pad & Quill have become my go-to recommendation for some of the best iPhone, Mac and iPad cases around. The $85 Luxury Pocket Book is my number one pick for iPhone as is the $99 Aria for iPad (pictured above). I’ve been known to not use cases– I prefer using my Apple devices naked, to experience the design the way the creators intended. These cases, however, are the first I’ve owned that I can truly say don’t take away from Apple’s design, but instead add to it.
Satechi USB Hub |
Since most of the products in my guide are a little on the high-end for gifts (you’ll probably be keeping those for yourself), I’ve decided to throw in a less expensive option that will please any Mac user. If you haven’t yet noticed, I like when the other products I use look like they could have been designed by Apple. My 7-port Satechi USB 3.0 hub certainly fits that criteria and looks perfect next to an Apple keyboard and mouse setup. It’s available to ship immediately from Amazon for $55.