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Ideas for Christmas gifts of products and hardware that will make great additions to Apple devices. Photo / Supplied
Ideas for Christmas gifts of products and hardware that will make great additions to Apple devices. Photo / Supplied

Recently I emailed out an edition of MagBytes full of new products. That's my free (but you have to ask for it) monthly roundup PDF magazine I send out to over 1300 people directly. So here is a roundup of what it contains, dramatically edited down.

Some of these products have had full reviews on macnz (my Apple news and tips site).

But some were so new, they're not in the country yet, although the hope was they would be here for Christmas. I'm not saying 'buy these', and no I didn't get to keep them, but they might be of interest. They're all skewed towards the Apple world, one way or another, but not always exclusively. Any prices quoted are recommended retail prices in NZ dollars including GST.

The iRig Mix ($170) is a white box with black controls. It has several functions: you can: plug in an iDevice to the top-left input, and with the IK Multimedia app DJ Rig, play two tracks simultaneously; plug two iDevices (or a CD/MP3 player/laptop etc) and mix between them; or plug a guitar or mic into the bottom #3 input.

With an iDevice in channel 1 you get a virtual amp and effects for learning songs.

iRig Keys (also $170) is another IK Multimedia pairing of a hardware designs with a trademark app: iGrand is the app. The free version is a great-sounding digital piano you can expand via in-app purchases, or buy the full $25 version. Keys is an electric keyboard with a slim footprint and fast key-travel that works well with GarageBand for Mac or iPad. Plug it into a Mac via USB or into an iDevice, but note the cable supplied for that is the older 30-pin version with USB2 at the other, and not the new Lightning.

iRig Cast ($65) is a little mic that goes onto an iDevice that definitely records better sound quality than an iPhone 4 built-in mic. The iRig Pre is a $65 interface for plugging in a real, cannon-jacked (XLR) mic into an iDevice. IK Multimedia also has a free VocaLive app for this.

iRig Stomp ($100) is a metal stompbox like a real 'stomp box' (analogue guitar effects pedal) for controlling iOS signal processing apps. It's handy for practising using your iDevice and AmpliTube amps and effects, thanks to the built-in headphone port. iRig devices are available from Jansen NZ Ltd, and also from Rubber Monkey, Pure Sounds, Computer Lounge, some other music and electronics retailers and from Apple Online.

On the hard drive front, not many yet take advantage of new Mac's USB 3 or Thunderbolt. But this does both. For $450, the LaCie Rugged Triple 1TB has a rubbery shockproof orange sleeve plus internal anti-shock bumpers. It has both a Thunderbolt port and USB 3; both cables are included.

Logitech's new and comfortable UE 6000 Headphones cost $350, designed with iDevice users in mind. A switch on the right pod turns on noise cancelling.

The Belkin Car Charger with Lightning connector ($35) is one of the few things on the market so far for Apple's new, smaller iDevice connector for car-charging iPad 4 and mini, iPhone 5, iPod touch 5 and iPod nano 7. It carries 10 watts/2.1 amps and has over-voltage protection.

The UE Boombox by Logitech ($350) combines a good idea with a good design. It's a wireless Bluetooth eight-speaker array with a full-length integral handle. It has a rechargeable with the supplied power unit for up to six hours of wireless, unencumbered music play - perfect for the bach, beach, barbecue etc. The Sonnett Dio ($84) uses the much faster USB 3 of the latest Macs. I know, I know, PCs got USB 3 ages ago. Of course, USB 1 or 2 devices will still work plugged into the new ports, but this chokes it back in speeds.

The Dio needs the newer, faster cards to see a real speed increase (Class 2 cards don't cut it). It handles the smaller SDHC-style card in the top slot at the same time as a larger CompactFlash card in the lower.

Epson's XP-700 inkjet printer ($329) is an all-in-one inkjet wireless/USB/Ethernet printer with a photo/document scanner (2400x4800 dpi). Great for small offices, home offices etc.

Logitech's Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 is an excellent design. For $169 this keyboard, built especially for Macs, has a solar cell section so no batteries needed. Yay! Three dedicated buttons at top left allow for three device pairings in memory - just press the right button.

The Audio Technica Stereo Condenser mic ($120) lets you get way better sound from video cameras, but also from DSLRs. In the box is the mic, battery, a wind sock, stereo minipin-to-mini pin lead, recording cable and two 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter plugs plus a mic stand attachment. Tone, and left and right separation, all good.

The ATR6550 Shotgun mic itself is a good 26cm long, with a one-metre cable hardwired into it. There's also a windsock, AA battery and a hotshoe mic holder plus a fitting to a standard mic stand. A three-position switch includes Normal and Tele. changing the shape of the audio capture. Both mics are available from Jansen.

I love good scanners. The Epson Perfection V370 is a brand new home/small office scanner that records an impressive 4800 by 9600 dots per inch optically for image enthusiasts and archivists. An instant-on LED scanhead means no tiresome warm-up time. The built-in 35mm Transparency Unit accommodates mounted slides, negatives and film strips. If you have a new Mac without an optical drive, download the software from Epson.

iLuv iPhone cases are around $30 and up. Designed in New York and made where everything else is made these days, iLuv makes cases for iDevices (and others), some of which glow in the dark. The Snoopy series brightens your day and protects your iPhone with a snap-on shell.

iLuv iPad cases ($75) have a swivel component and stepped retainers for different viewing angles to sit your iPad at the angle that suits what you're doing, in portrait or landscape.

The Joy Factory's BubbleShield is a pack of three bags with stronger-than-usual zip-lock tops that fit the mini, iPhones, and other up to 7-inch tablets. Sand, dust and water spray are excluded, but the film allows touch interface.

Scosche FlipCharge Rogue will be $81 when available. Charge this via the built-in USB cable then keep it in your car or bag, and when your iDevice or iPod is low at that inopportune moment, just plug it in via its 30-pin (not the new Lightning) connector and bring your device back to full. The free Scosche reVIVE app helps keep your device's battery in top shape.

The Klick Stand ($75-90 depending on function/iPad) is a workplace/kitchen/etc iPad holder with a back-shell. An adjustable leg fits to the back of the shell to easily place the iPad at any angle.

Made from real leather, the toffee iPhone wallet has compartments for coins, cards, notes and receipts - and iPhones. The range is designed in Sydney, made in India.

Kogeto's 'Dot' 360° is a 360 degree lens ($80) that fits over the main iPhone camera (you get the one that fits your model). Using the free Looker app, you shoot a video you can then post to Facebook and Twitter. A video online at kogeto.com shows how it works.

Scosche tapline III earbuds ($81) are sporty earbuds in sweat-resistant antimicrobial jackets for all iDevices. They have an integrated microphone for voice memos, voice control and phone calls and come with applicable colour inserts.

The Scosche myTrek wireless pulse monitor ($175) is another 'appcessory' (a device that requires an app). This wristband connects to your iPod touch or iPhone wirelessly, gives audio prompts while you exercise and lets you control music at the same time. Charge it via USB for five hours of self punishment - a sleeker version arrives soon.

Scosche RH1056md reference headphones ($270) are ruggedly built, with viscoelastic foam that reacts to warmth, for comfort. The cushions are wrapped in fine leather and the cord has the Tapline III controller. They sound really good, thanks to big 40mm drivers and a ported sound chamber. (Try Scosche's tuneQ App, a free 10-band graphic equaliser with presets and more.)

The Power-Q dual iDevice charger ($66) features two 4.2 Amp USB charging ports. Plug it into a wall outlet and charge two iDevices at once via USB.

A couple of excellent cameras are the Canon PowerShot S110 (about $700 but shop around). A cut above a standard compact, it has a black metal body and knurled and textured edges. It packs 12.1 megapixels and 1080p Full High Def movies. Use it auto or fully manual camera; the milled dial around the lens zooms.

The Canon EOS 650D is, body only, $999. As a DSLR it has access to Canon's interchangeable lenses; the 650D is often sold in kit form with a zoom (look for deals). It has 18 megapixel resolution and can shoot 5 frame-per-second stills, has built in creative filters, 9-point autofocus and the new DiG!C 5 Processor.

Just announced

Griffin's app-controlled helicopter, at your dealer for $95 while stocks last. Download the app and the Helo TC will terrorise your family Christmas.

Also, Belkin's WeMo Switch ($80) and WeMo Switch + Motion ($160) are plug-and-play products that allow users to remotely turn on televisions, radios, computers, air-conditioning etc. The second detects movement, and devices plugged into the WeMo Motion can be programmed to react to motion. These are brand new to market, and I hope to review one soon.

Enjoy the break, and be safe.

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