Best gadgets of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, we thought it was appropriate here at MacSources to recap some of our favorite gadgets from the past year. We have broken down the Best Of list into categories — Accessories, Camera Gear, Bags, Networking, Charging, Health, Storage, Home Security, and Gaming. We hope you will continue to follow us into 2018 as we explore the future of technology.

ACCESSORIES

Moshi Cardette USB Type-C Memory Card Reader 

The Cardette Type-C is a wonderfully designed accessory. It allows the user to transfer data from many different types of media to your computer through ultra-high speed technologies. It connects to not only the new MacBook Pro but also MacBooks and most next-generation laptops that utilize USB-C. And, most importantly, the Cardette also works as a USB 3.0 hub (backward compatible to USB 2.0).

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featured-moshi-cardette-USBC
Geeni Surge Smart WiFi Surge Protector

The Surge is a 4 x 4 power outlet and USB port power strip with 900J surge protection. The device allows you to take control and manage power better in your home. Can you use it without connecting to WiFi? Yes, but why would you want to? To connect to WiFi, you need to plug the power strip into a power outlet and then use the app (iOS or Android) to connect to your home WiFi network.

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Geeni Surge Smart WiFi Surge Protector REVIEW
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is the perfect blend of design and function for a MacBook Pro-driven setup. There are 13 ports on it. On the front, there is an SD card slot, aux port for audio connection, and one USB 3.1 port for quick charging or data transfer. When you turn the dock around, you will find the remaining ten ports: Four (4) USB 3.1 Gen 1, S/PDIF, Firewire 800, Gigabit Ethernet, Two (2) Thunderbolt 3, Mini Display.

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 OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Twelve South Curve

The Curve is an aluminum stand shaped to complement the MacBook Pro. It comes in one color — matte black — and it has a flowing ergonomic design. The Curve elevates the screen of your laptop 6.5-inches and keeps 70% of the base exposed. This promotes airflow to the laptop and prevents overheating of your MacBook Pro. The stand also has a small lip on the end of the arms that allows users to open and close the lid with ease.

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Twelve South Curve MacBook Pro Stand REVIEW

CAMERA GEAR

Canon VIXIA HF R80 Camcorder

Even though it’s very similar to small camcorders from my youth, the Vixia HF R80 has a lot of features going for it. It gives you up to 6 hours of recording time on a single battery charge and has the flexibility of an optical zoom. Right out of the box, you can start recording without any major instruction, but there are quite a few settings you can tweak to make the picture even more remarkable.

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Canon VIXIA HF R80 Camcorder REVIEW
Joby GorillaPod Focus Tripod

GorillaPod Focus allows you to position your camera at nearly any angle. You have full 360º panning and a 90º tilt when you use the Focus in conjunction with the Ballhead XTM (or any other ball head). The tripod is easy to set up as it includes an Arca-Swiss compatible mounting plate that can be left on your camera (or not) for easy interchangeability.

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Joby GorillaPod Focus Tripod
Pelican Protector Memory Card Case

The Protector Case is a classic Pelican case. It’s water resistant (IPx4). The body is made out of a tough Polycarbonate resin and is a hard shell. The latch is made of a hard ABS plastic and creates a very tight seal for the inside of the case. The interior liner is made out of Elastomer foam and it absorbs shock as well as keeps the memory cards locked safely in place and organized. The Protector case can hold up to 12 SD cards, 6 Mini SD cards, and 6 Micro SD cards.

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 Pelican Protector Memory Card Case REVIEW
iFootage Cobra 2 C180 Monopod

This lightweight, durable monopod is honestly the perfect hybrid between monopod and tripod. It features adjustable feet at the base as well as a modular design. The monopod is incredibly easy to use and very, very stable. Because of its modular design, iFootage made sure that photographers and videographers alike could use it in a variety of ways — as a video monopod with adjustable feet, as a portable monopod with a single rubber foot, or as a low angle camera pod.

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iFootage Cobra 2 C180 Monopod and Komodo K5 Video Head REVIEW
Vello BG C14 Battery Grip

The Vello BG-C14 Battery Grip accepts up to two Canon LP-E6 or LP-E6N rechargeable batteries within its casing so that it will effectively double your battery power and shooting time. In addition to the extra battery life, the grip provides you with easy to use control functions for the camera. There is a shutter release button, AF area and AF point selection, AF start and AE lock buttons, multi-controller, and multi-function buttons as well as the main dial. The grip isn’t just a way to have more power; it’s also a better way to control the camera’s main functions.

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Vello BG C14 Battery Grip REVIEW

BAGS

Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack

The ProTactic 450 AW is a professional-grade, urban-inspired camera backpack. It’s got a semi-hard shell to it so you know that your gear is safe inside. The backpack is set up so that you can access it from four points — the top, either side and the back. ProTactic has an “ActivZone System”, which provides targeted support at the should blades, lumbar, and waist for comfort. The interior has padded, adjustable dividers that allow you to pack as much as you possibly can into the bag.

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Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW Camera Backpack REVIEW
Think Tank Photo Spectral 15 Shoulder Bag

The Spectral 15 Shoulder Bag from Think Tank Photo is a gorgeous, lightweight multipurpose camera bag. It’s made from tarpaulin, a heavy-duty, waterproof cloth, which is durable and very functional and metal hardware, YKK RC Fuse zippers, 420D velocity nylon. In addition to the main compartment, which can fit a full-frame DSLR body and at least two lenses, the Spectral 15 also has a pocket for a 15-inch laptop and a pocket for a 10-inch tablet.

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Think Tank Photo Spectral 15 Shoulder Bag REVIEW
Solo Sag Harbor Briefcase

Inspired by New York’s seaside retreat, Sag Harbor, the briefcase has a fresh look with very careful tailoring and rich textures throughout the bag. It provides ample storage for all your daily needs and is perfect for when you have extended needs for travel as well. The bag has a fully padded laptop compartment that will house computers up to 15.6 inches.

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Solo Sag Harbor Briefcase REVIEW

AUDIO

Audioengine HD3 Wireless Speakers

The HD3 speakers are considered retro-forward looking. The speaker is finished with furniture-grade wood veneers so that they can be shown off as an elegant accent piece in your home or office. There are three colors choices – satin black, cherry, and walnut – to fit with any decor style. The speakers themselves remind me of an older style from the 70s. They are meant to be seen as well as heard.

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FUGOO Style-S Bluetooth Speaker

The Style-S is a very hearty speaker. I already mentioned that it’s waterproof, but I haven’t brought up that it’s also shockproof and dust/mud/snow proof. The speaker can also float. Basically, it’s ideal for a get together where there is the possibility of rowdy guests. These Fugoo speakers put out a clear, crisp quality of sound along with the perfect mixture of deep bass.

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FUGOO Style-S Bluetooth Speaker REVIEW
Audioengine D1 DAC Headphone AMP

I really wanted something that was “plug-and-play” with my Mac and had read many good things about the D1 DAC. It’s an impressive little box and it brings new meaning to good things come in small packages. The device allows you to bypass your computer’s sound card or headphone output and send audio directly through USB or optical. It is a 24-bit DAC so it’s ideal for being a go-between for your computer and music system.

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Audioengine D1 DAC Headphone AMP REVIEW
Master and Dynamic MW50 Wireless Headphones

The MW50s are built with form and function in mind. Master & Dynamic created a beautiful, powerful product that provides its user with a rich, full listening experience. M&D uses premium materials to construct these exclusive headphones. Heavy grain premium cowhide is used on the exterior surface of the headband and ear cups while lambskin is used for the inside of the headband. The main frame is constructed of stainless steel and aluminum.

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Master and Dynamic MW50 Wireless Headphones REVIEW
Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II

The QuietComfort 35 II headphones are a follow-up/update to the headphones with the same name that were released in 2016. Both models have the same form factor, but the series 2 version has a few additional new functions. These headphones boast a 20-hour battery life and can be paired with Bluetooth or NFC. The headphones are built to last using impact-resistant materials, glass-filled nylon, and corrosion-resistant stainless steel.

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Bose QuietComfort 35 II REVIEW

NETWORKING

Circle with Disney – Parental Control Device

Circle is a remarkable device. It’s not just great if you have kids as permanent residents; it’s also a great addition to your network system when you have guests in your home. The device itself is only slightly bigger than a Rubix’s cube. It measures 3.25 x 3.25 x 3.25 inches and it only weighs 1.25 pounds. It’s small enough and light enough to be placed nearly anywhere in your home. Circle connects wirelessly to your WiFi router so you don’t even have to have it physically next to it — it just has to have a strong WiFi signal.

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Circle with Disney
Netgear Orbi Home WiFi System

Orbi is a tri-band home WiFi system. It makes sure that you have your home WiFi signal anywhere around your home – inside your home office, outside on your deck, or even in your pool. It’s an advanced system that is specifically designed to work with many devices on the same WiFi network. Other systems use a dual-band or mesh technology which will slow down as you add more devices to it. The third band that Orbi provides is dedicated from your device to the Internet so that you get an uninterrupted signal – even if you add more devices to your network.

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Netgear Orbi Home WiFi System REVIEW
NETGEAR Nighthawk S8000 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch

This device is considered a Gaming & Streaming Switch, which means that it is optimized for expert gaming, 4K UHD media streaming, and home network connectivity. The switch is built with a premium zinc-alloy housing with a soft-touch no-slip base. It’s durable and provides a sleek design. This is an ultra high-performance switch and provides link aggregation (up to 4 Gigabit LAN ports), Low Latency, and glitch-free streaming (4K UHD streaming with multicasting support). The S8000 also has a mobile-optimized GUI.

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NETGEAR Nighthawk S8000 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch REVIEW

CHARGING

Belkin Valet Charger

Belkin has seen fit to create one that comes with a built-in magnetic charging module for the Apple Watch. What’s nice about this charger is that it’s not only designed for the watch, but it’s also equipped with a standard USB port so that you can charge other devices, like your phone, from it. The charger recharges via a Micro USB port, which is pretty normal for this type of charger.

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TYLT Portable Battery 4x with Dock

TYLT’s Portable Battery 4x with Power Dock is the ideal solution for someone who uses a battery pack daily and always forgets to charge it. The battery itself is a compact power bank with a capacity of 7,800 mAh. That’s enough to charge a mobile phone a few times. If you have an Android device, you can enjoy the QuickCharge 3.0 technology that’s built into the Portable Battery and with the SmartDetect technology, you are sure to rapidly charge Apple products, too.

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TYLT Portable Battery 4x with Power Dock REVIEW
myCharge Adventure Ultra Portable Charging Hub

This battery is different than other power banks because it’s also a power inverter. You can charge USB devices and AC compatible devices simply by clicking a button. The Adventure Ultra is a 13400 mAh battery that can charge several devices at one time and because it has the ability to invert power, you can plug standard plugs into it as well as USB-A and USB-C plugs. There are 4 output ports on the Adventure Ultra — 2 USB-A ports, 1 USB-C port, and one AC power output. There is also a DC power input to recharge the battery.

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myCharge Adventure Ultra Portable Charging Hub REVIEW
HiRise Duet iPhone & Apple Watch Charging Stand

The HiRise Duet is made from metal but has napa leather at the base of the watch to rest on. The stand includes both the Lightning connector and Apple Watch charging disk so that you don’t have to sacrifice your own cables to the stand gods. The Duet has an adjustable back support for the iPhone so that it will work with a variety of iPhone sizes with or without cases. I typically use my phone sans case but having the ability to make that choice and not have to switch charging docks is wonderful.

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HiRise Duet iPhone & Apple Watch Charging Stand REVIEW

HEALTH

Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer

The Smart Ear has the ability to take a temperature reading, store it internally, and then sync with the app at a later time. When you are sick, or when your children are sick, the last thing you want to do is ask them to wait for a handheld computer to complete a data transfer. The Smart Ear will store up to 50 temperature readings and then sync the data to the app when it’s connected via Bluetooth to your phone.

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Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer
Quell Wearable Pain Relief

The Quell device stimulates the nerves in your leg, a neural pulse triggers a response in your body that will block pain signals so you get real, drug-free pain relief. Quell isn’t a ‘tens’ unit at all. It’s considered ‘neurotechnology’ and it stimulates sensory nerves. It’s a ‘smart’ device in that it actually activates the body’s natural pain relief response.

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Quell Wearable Pain Relief Second Generation
Mynt Cordless Shiatsu Neck & Shoulder Massager with Heat

There are a lot of options for at home massagers and I’ve found that the easiest one to use for my personal situation is actually a neck and shoulder massager. I’ve recently been using the Mynt Cordless Shiatsu Neck & Shoulder Massager with Heat, which is unique because it’s rechargeable. Most massagers of this style must be plugged into power in order to use them, but that can become rather cumbersome – especially if you want to sit at a desk while using it. This cordless option gives you the ability to use it anywhere – even when you aren’t sitting right next to a power outlet.

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Mynt Cordless Shiatsu Neck & Shoulder Massager with Heat REVIEW

STORAGE

Western Digital My Passport SSD Portable Hard Drive

The My Passport SSD was introduced in April of this year as the fastest WD brand portable drive yet. The drive supports up to 515 MB/s and is designed for use with the latest generation of the computer that features USB-C. The connection from the drive to a computer is USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10GB/s) and is built for use with PC and Mac. The My Passport SSD also offers a secured place to store your data with 256-bit AES hardware encryption and password protection. This tiny hard drive is also incredibly durable.

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Drobo 5D3

The 5D3 was designed for lightning fast workflows for creative professionals and small businesses that needed superior performance and high capacity storage. With it’s five drive-bay design and ability to hold up to 64TB of storage, it’s great to use as a central backup system as well as media storage for live video editing. It has up to a 2X performance boost over the Drobo 5D (Interfaces: 2X Thunderbolt 2, 1X USB 3.0) and the second new product released by Drobo in 3 months time (5N2 was released in March).

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featured-Drobo-5D3-REVIEW-3
iStorage DiskAshur Pro2 Secure Portable Hard Drive

This remarkable device is designed to keep your data ultra-secure through PIN authentication. PINs and encryption keys are always encrypted while the device is at rest and it’s water/dust resistant (IP-56 certified), but it’s by no means ‘proof’ so you won’t want to submerge it or bury it in a pile of dirt. The drive is built to be tough and is even tamper-proof and tamper evident. The keypad is coated with epoxy and has a wear-resistant design. There is no special software required because the PIN pad is located right on the outside of the hard drive.

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iStorage DiskAshur Pro2 Secure Portable Hard Drive REVIEW

HOME SECURITY

Ring Floodlight Cam

The Ring Floodlight Cam is the world’s only motion-activated HD security camera with built-in floodlights, a siren alarm (110-decibel), and two-way talk. It is available in two colors — white and black — and you can get the Floodlight Cam as a single unit or 2-unit package. The camera provides crystal-clear HD video with a 140-degree field of view, 8X zoom, and a 270-degree field of motion that allows you to detect motion around corners and monitor blind spots easily.

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Ring Floodlight Cam REVIEW
Reolink Argus Outdoor/Indoor Security Camera

Argus is a 100% wire free weatherproof 1080p Full HD Security Camera. It’s an indoor/outdoor camera and it’s got a very quick and easy installation process – just like the Keen camera. It’s very cost-effective. For around $100, you have a completely self-contained, HD, wire-free security camera. There are no subscription fees for it and it really packs a lot of features into that relatively small price point.

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Reolink Argus Outdoor/Indoor Security Camera REVIEW
Ring Video Doorbell 2

One of the great things about the Ring doorbells is that they are designed as dual-purpose; they can either be wireless or hardwired into your home. This means that if you have an original Ring on your front door and you upgrade to the 2nd gen model, you can install the first unit elsewhere on your home. Even though Ring’s purpose is as a doorbell, it’s also a very capable security camera. It detects motion up to 30 feet away from it. So, you can potentially set it up on your home — even if there isn’t a point of entry — and have the ability to monitor an area on the exterior of your home.

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Ring Video Doorbell 2 REVIEW

GAMING

Gamevice for iPhone

GAMEVICE is a controller for the iPhone and when you look at it on the phone the first thing that I think of is the PlayStation Vita. With the controls being on each end of the iPhone you have the full screen and more control of your gaming experience. The controller features dual analog joysticks, ABXY buttons, a D-Pad, R1/2 and L1/2 bumpers and a menu button. You have complete control over your gaming with the GAMEVICE.

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gamevice iOS Gaming Controller
Kanex GoPlay SideKick Controller

This portable gaming controller makes it possible for you to turn your iPhone into a gaming system. It’s compatible with most controller-supported games and it gives you console-like gameplay. The controller is MFi certified and designed specifically for iOS. The protective case doubles as an iPhone stand. The GoPlay is lightweight, compact, and extremely portable. It has a rechargeable battery and offers 20 hours of gameplay.

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Feature Kanex GoPlay Sidekick
 
Nintendo Switch

Nintendo considers the Switch a “hybrid” console; it is designed primarily as a home console, with the main unit inserted into a docking station to connect to a television. Alternatively, it can be removed from the dock and used similarly to a tablet computer through its LCD touchscreen, or placed in a standalone tabletop mode visible to several players. The Nintendo Switch uses the wireless Joy-Con controllers, which include standard buttons and directional analog sticks for user input, motion sensing, and high-definition tactile feedback.

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Switch Feature

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