Gift Ideas for the Apple Addict
Gadget lovers can be tricky people to shop for. If an Apple addict is on your gift list this season, here are some hints that can steer you in the right direction. Of course, not everything's going to be a hit with everyone, but with these starting out points, mixed with what you know about the person's wants and needs, your gift just might hit the spot.
12/08/11 5:00 AM PT
Most people I know have a hard time finding the right gifts for a lot of the people in their lives, and I'm no exception: I'm picky, and often enough in weird, demanding ways. For instance, while I like some shades of blue, others irritate me.
As for Mac and Apple fans, they tend to be demanding, too. After you own a well-crafted Mac, rudely designed and crudely assembled products can lead to forced smiles, and later, after you're gone, thrown devices and remotes or gadgets accidentally dropped into kitchen sinks full of dirty dish water. Confusing things that don't work as they should can have that affect on Mac addicts.
Here are some ideas that won't steer you wrong. However, while they'll put you in the right direction, to get it 100 percent right you'll have to combine what you know about the person with your budget and available options. For instance, my family is now trained to not buy me blue clothes. If you are a Mac addict and someone is shopping for you, maybe this list will spark some ideas that could be floated out to the potential gift givers.
Here's some ideas to get you started:
Less Expensive Options
Of course, the cost of acquiring an Apple product rarely comes cheaply, but these are solid options.
iTunes Gift Card. Quite possibly the least imaginative thing you can give, but it's versatile enough to use on books, videos, music and apps, plus it shows that you at least recognize what your Mac-lover is interested in. Besides, it will most definitely get used. It won't be a surprise, but you won't go wrong, either. Got a long-distance, time-sensitive issue? If you've got an iTunes account yourself, you can gift iTunes dollars through email.
Magic Mouse and/or Magic Trackpad. I'm a big fan of my Magic Mouse, and it works great with Mac OS X Lion. I've considered adding a Magic Trackpad, just to snag a few gestures for use with Lion. Either way, at US$69, both are fantastic devices. If you see your Mac addict banging around with a dirty mouse, that's your cue.
Headphones and Earbuds. You're treading into dangerous waters here, because headphones and earbuds are highly personal things. Some people prefer looks over sound, while others just cringe at anything tinny or crackly with excessive base. Cheap could be perfect, while expensive could fail miserably.
If you want to succeed here, you'll have to start asking questions or try to get into his or her Amazon.com shopping cart (or other carts) to see if there's an item saved for later or sitting there idle. Look for user ratings online with this category. If the person you're shopping for has a cheap pair of over-the-ear headphones, look for an upgrade. If it's white Apple earbuds all the time, branch out with an in-ear set with squishy silicon nubbins.
iPhone, iPad or iPod Case. Hate to say it again, but cases are highly personal things. You could easily get the right case but pick the wrong color. Or vice versa. If you overhear a compliment on someone else's case, that's your cue. If you can pair the case with a gift receipt, that's your safest move.
iPod nano Watch Band. If your Mac addict has an iPod nano, a watch band could either be wicked cool or simply goofy. As for me, if I had a nano, I would welcome the experiment through a gift ... but might balk at spending the money to find out which is: cool or goofy. There are several options ranging from synthetics to metals.
Apple Digital AV Adapter. This $39 adapter plugs into your iPad and gives you an HDMI connection to an HDTV, letting you mirror your iPad screen on your TV. For work purposes, this can be quite handy in the meeting room. And for sharing movies or apps at other people's homes (who might not have Apple TVs), this is an awesome little gadget to always have in your bag.
iPad Camera Connection Kit. This $29 set of plugs gives you two ways to import photos and videos from a digital camera or your iPhone directly to your iPad. You don't have to fuss with iCloud or connections, so this little kit is handy for iPad owners.
Apple TV. At US$99, this little set-top box connects to Apple's iCloud to let users stream any TV show they ever bought, as well as download and stream movies, both from Apple and from iTunes on your Mac or PC. In addition, it lets you use Apple's AirPlay to view content on your iPad 2 screen or from you iPhone on your HDTV. It also supports Netflix streaming, YouTube time-wasting, music, and more. Can't really go wrong with this little black gem.
And here's a $39 alternative: Apple Composite or Component Cables, which let you physically connect an iOS device to your HDTV.
New Speakers. If your Mac fan's home base area has a lousy set of desktop speakers, or none at all, a decent set of desktop speakers are a hard-to-beat bet. Try Creative Gigaworks T20 or T40 speakers -- they are surprisingly good, have consistently good reviews, and seem to be quite solid. I've had a T20 set for a couple years and they blast in my kitchen. Of course, if you find a cool-looking set that's priced over $75, you'll probably be fine too. (And something is usually better than nothing at all.)
iPod touch. If -- and only if -- your Mac addict doesn't already have an iPhone (and we can't imagine why, but accept it as a possibility) any iPod touch is an option. If so, the iPod touch is too redundant. But the iPod nano, if your addict works out a lot or is super active, could be handy.
Keyboard Case for iPad. There's a burgeoning product category, and that's case systems with keyboards for the iPad 2. Most case/keyboards are coming in around $75-$100.
Apple Airport Express. At $99, this little plug-in WiFi device can run your home wireless network or be used to extend your wireless network. To me, this unit is too expensive to buy on my own ... but if I received it as a gift, I'd sure put it to work by using it stream music to other rooms in my house that have self-powered speakers.
Of course, most Mac lovers would be thrilled to snag a new MacBook upgrade -- the latest and greatest, even if he or she doesn't really need it. Your excuse? You give the new one and get the old one for yourself. Here's your decision point: If your Mac lover is always on the go, error on the side of the thin and light MacBook Air. But if he or she has a massive iPhoto library and likes to make home movies, shoot for the 15-inch MacBook Pro with the larger hard drive and better graphics capabilities. Either way, will a MacBook buy you love?
Yes, yes it will.