Most of my favorite gift picks this year fall into the category of using the iPhone and iPad on the road so I already shared my favorite gift items for road warriors including CarPlay in-dash receivers and more. The Mac, though, is less transit-friendly when it comes to gifts unless you’re looking for a power adapter for charging in the car, so below I’ve collected some more Mac-friendly gift picks as well as a few analog options and more. Catch up with the rest of 9to5Mac’s holiday gift guides for more ideas and follow 9to5Toys.com for the latest deals.
For me, the holiday season is always a great excuse to upgrade some component of my Mac in hopes of making it leaner and meaner going into the New Year. A few years ago I included Mac RAM from Crucial on my wish list and doubled the memory in my 2010 MacBook Pro from 4GB to 8GB. No one in my family knew quite exactly what they were buying, but I was geeked out for reasons they didn’t understand.
A few weeks ago I decided to do something similar to my 2012 Mac mini – the RAM was already maxed out to 16GB but I was still using a classic spinning hard drive…
Samsung 840 EVO SSD
…so after tracking the price on one of these for several months, I decided to just buy a lower capacity SSD to speed up my Mac mini rather than match the 1TB storage of my spinning disk hard drive. I opted for 250GB Samsung 840 EVO SSD to match the storage of my MacBook Air with a 2TB external hard drive for holding my iTunes and iPhoto libraries, but a lot of people can probably get by on the 500GB version without relying on the noisy external attached drive.
Ideally, I’d have liked to have the 1TB Samsung 840 EVO SSD but I couldn’t convince myself to spend the money on myself, which is another reason this makes a great gift. Easier to spend a little more when you’re buying for someone else, at least in my experience. There’s also a seriously-don’t-think-twice-priced 128GB model for stuffing the tech stocking. Below are today’s prices:
- Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD $72.99 (Reg. $139.99)
- Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD $104.99 (Reg. $149.99)
- Samsung 840 EVO 500GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD $209,00 (Reg. $269.99)
- Samsung 840 EVO 1TB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD $369.99 (Reg. $499.99)
Next up is the Bluelounge CableBox cable management solution. Last February I replaced my desk with an IKEA Linnmon tabletop exposing a tangled web of wires below. After a few Twitter recommendations, I picked up the Bluelounge CableBox–in white of course–and a pack of velcro self gripping cable ties to organize and conceal all the cords that a busy desk requires. You can also pick up the Bluelounge CableBox in black if that will blend better with the environment under your desk.
I’ve got two power strips packed in my CableBox with all the cords closely running into one side, and I can’t believe I ever looked at my desk without it. The top of the CableBox snaps in place securely so you can tame a mess before it gets out of hand, and it’s easy to remove and reattach anytime you need to change something about your setup. If you’re really creative, you can even use it to hide more exciting gifts inside like…
- Bluelounge CableBox Full Size White $25.95 (Reg. $29.95)
- Bluelounge CableBox Full Size Black $25.39 (Reg. $29.95)
- Bluelounge CableBox Mini Orange (Small Surge Protector Included) $19.99 (Reg. $29.95)
- Bluelounge CableBox Mini Blue (Small Surge Protector Included) $24.95 (Reg. $29.95)
- Bluelounge CableBox Mini Green (Small Surge Protector Included) $23.00 (Reg. $29.95)
- Bluelounge CableBox Mini Pink (Small Surge Protector Included) $16.91 (Reg. $29.95)
- Bluelounge CableBox Mini Yellow (Small Surge Protector Included) $24.95 (Reg. $29.95)
I’m sure you’ve seen Apple’s playful “Stickers” TV ad for the MacBook Air–it debuted earlier this year in July–with sticker after sticker wrapped around the Apple logo on the lid. After it aired, we showed you where you can buy each decal seen in the commercial, and I have to admit I have a “Cat Eating Apple” MacBook decal in my Amazon order history. You can find the stickers seen in the ad here and even more including stickers that wrap around the Apple on the iPad. Fun way to customize an Apple device, especially if using a case isn’t your thing.
Osmo for iPad
Speaking of the iPad, some great new accessories have surfaced over the last year including Osmo for iPad, a set of games for the iPad that combines both apps and physical play pieces and more. Described as a “unique gaming accessory for the iPad that comes with games that will change the way your child plays,” Osmo works with the iPad using a Reflector that snaps over the tablet’s camera, a base for standing the iPad upright, and a playing field for using on any surface. You also get “2 complete alphabet letter tile set and 7 wood tangram shapes” that work with Osmo’s three existing games on the App Store.
Osmo for iPad is available from their web store for $79.99 and free shipping; Tangible Play, the company behind Osmo, currently has three apps that work with the kit as free downloads from the App Store.
Pencil by FiftyThree digital stylus
Looking for something a little more serious for iPad owners? Check out Pencil by FiftyThree, a digital stylus from the makers of the drawing app Paper. What makes Pencil different than any ordinary off-the-shelf tablet stylus? The Pencil can connect to the iPad over Bluetooth and interact specifically with a variety of iPad apps including Paper, Procreate, and Sketchbook, and support for Adobe’s Photoshop Sketch, Illustrator Line, and Illustrator Draw is coming soon. This will deliver more precise input and drawing, palm rejection, surface pressure detection, blending colors with your finger tips, and erasing with the opposite end of the stylus… just like a pencil.
- Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 – Graphite $49.95 & free shipping
- Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPad 3/4 – Walnut with magnetic strip $59.95 & free shipping
Field Notes “The Kit”
Looking for something a little more analog for those times when you just want to disconnect? Everyone loves Field Notes, and “The Kit” is a great pack for diving in with a whole set of notebooks, pencils and pens, and even a nice 2015 calendar. What all does Field Notes “The Kit” include?
2 80-Page Steno Books $19.95 1 “18-Monther” 2015 Calendar $11.95 1 Graph 3-Pack $9.95 1 Mixed 3-Pack $9.95 6 #2 Pencils 6 Clic Pens 6 Bands of Rubber
Evernote Moleskine notebook and planner
Believe it or not, there’s actually a crossover between going completely digital and full-blown analog for offline use: enter the Evernote Moleskine notebook and planner. The Evernote Moleskine allows you to “Write, sketch, or draw in the specially designed Evernote Notebooks by Moleskine. Take a photo of any page in this Moleskine notebook with the Evernote Page Camera and it instantly becomes digital so that you can save it, search it and share it with the world.” The best of both worlds.
As for Evernote Moleskine planner, you can “Think and create on paper, save and share in the cloud with Evernote. The Evernote Planner Weekly Notebook by Moleskine uses Evernote’s Page Camera feature to capture the pages of your notebook with your smartphone or tablet. Once in you’ve uploaded to Evernote, you can search for your handwritten notes by keyword, tag or just visually browse. Includes 3-month Evernote Premium subscription and four pages of Smart Stickers.”
- Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook, Large, Ruled, Black, Hard Cover (5 x 8.25) $20.65 (Reg. $29.95)
- Moleskine 2015 Evernote Planner Weekly Notebook, 12M, Large, Black, Hard Cover (5 x 8.25) $31.46 (Reg. $34.95)
Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard
Want to give someone something that can tie all of those iDevices together? Logitech’s K8111 Bluetooth Easy-Switch keyboard is hands-down my favorite non-Apple keyboard as it can connect to up to three Bluetooth devices and switch between them at the press of a key, and it feels similar to using a MacBook keyboard right down to the color of the keys.
You get a dedicated home button key which can be used to activate Siri on an iOS device, it’s backlit so you can see what you’re working on in the dark, and it includes a rechargeable battery with charging over the included USB cable.
So what can you connect this wireless keyboard with? Really any Bluetooth-compatible device, but for me it’s perfect for pairing with my Mac mini, iPad Air, and Apple TV (best way to type!). Just a personal note: it’s not waterproof so keep your coffee far away or you’ll be replacing it (but it’s so useful you’ll want to!) …
- Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 Keyboard for Mac, iPad, iPhone – Silver/Black $79.99 & free shipping (Reg. $99.99)
- Logitech Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard K810 for PCs, Tablets, Smartphones – Black $59.99 & free shipping (Reg. $99.99)
Parrot Flower Power Smart Plant Sensor
Speaking of Bluetooth, there are some pretty cool accessories on the market for your iPhone and iPad that use Bluetooth to communicate.
Parrot’s Flower Power smart plant sensor is one that I’ve tried this year. The sensor is a cool, branch-like device that you put in the soil with your plant. The free iPhone app then alerts you to conditions like not enough or too much sunlight, the need to water the plant more or less, and whether or not the plant is overall healthy and how you can improve its health.
You technically need one sensor per each plant if you’re considering monitoring multiple plants, but some people say you can move the sensor from plant to plant with some success. For me, I’ve helped keep a bonsai tree healthy with the Parrot Flower Power smart plant sensor. It’s a fun project that everyone can enjoy.
- Parrot Flower Power – Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Bluetooth Smart Plant Sensor – Green $59.99 & free shipping
- Parrot Flower Power – Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Bluetooth Smart Plant Sensor – Brown $59.99 & free shipping
- Parrot Flower Power – Wireless Indoor/Outdoor Bluetooth Smart Plant Sensor – Blue $59.99 & free shipping
Glif Adjustable Tripod Mount for iPhone
Another favorite of mine: the Glif tripod mount from Studio Neat. Past versions of the Glif were fitted for specific iPhone models, but the latest Glif is adjustable so you can buy one and know it will hold your iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6, or even iPhone 6 Plus. What’s the Glif do? Your iPhone is an amazing camera, and the Glif enables you to mount it like a traditional shooter.
Using a tripod is a great way to enhance your photography or video recording, and the Glif can make your time-lapse videos stable or enable you to take a timer-set selfie with the family. It’s a must-have for iPhoneograhers. If you want to upgrade this gift from a stocking stuffer idea to the full package, throw in a tripod or two for mounting it and you’ve got your holidays covered.
Studio Neat’s adjustable Glif tripod mount and stand is available for $30 & free shipping from Amazon.
iPhoto Print Products
As for what to do with all of those photos you take, I’m a huge fan of Apple’s iPhoto print product options. Unfortunately, Apple retired iPhoto for iOS as well as its iOS Cards app (and Photos for Mac will replace iPhoto in 2015), but iPhoto for Mac can still dish out some really high quality, Apple branded photo books, calendars, cards, and prints. Soft cover photo books start at $3.99 while hardcover books start at $29.99. You can print a full sized, 12 month personalized calendar for $19.99, and personalized cards start at just $0.99 with letterpress options from $2.99. As for photo prints, you can turn your digital pictures to physical photographs starting at $0.12/each with options for prints as large as 20×30 inches.
Apple says orders with standard shipping before December 12th will arrive by December 24th. After that, you’ll have up until December 17th to order with express shipping and have your prints arrive by December 24th. Shipping is also free on all photo books through December 12th with delivery before Christmas. Using my own iPhoto library, I ordered at least two calendars, a photo book, and several cards and prints last year as gifts and I’m absolutely taking that route again this year for several people on my list.
For more gift ideas this year, check our 9to5Mac‘s 2014 holiday gift guide collection including guides for making music with your iPhone, iPad, and Mac as well as home automation with smart home products.