MacSources Holiday Shopping Gift Guide 2015

Every year here at MacSources we provide a list of devices and products that we have enjoyed throughout the year as a Gift Guide. Below are just a few of our favorite devices from this year. There is a variety of products – everything from smart plugs to Bluetooth gaming controllers – something for everyone.

Along with each entry is a little bit of why each of our contributors liked the product, some basic information on it, and what its retail price is. We hope this helps make your holiday season a little less stressful as you try to find that ‘perfect’ gift for that certain someone. Enjoy our 2015 Gift Guide and please, let us know if you have any other favorites in the comments below.

Apple TV Gen 4

Gift Idea from Nicholas Calderone
This highly anticipated update from Apple has becoming a very welcome addition in our home. The new Apple TV (4th Gen) provides a rich entertainment experience full of apps, streaming video, and gaming. Even though the App Store for the Apple TV is still evolving, I feel as though this release was a step in the right direction. We use our Apple TVs (that’s right…we have two) to do everything from watch movies stored on our Plex server to playing tennis tournaments with the Siri Remote. The experience is enhanced by the addition of the Siri Remote, which allows you to control the Apple TV with voice commands and touch/gesture control. Because it’s Bluetooth compatible, you can add-on accessories like a Bluetooth gaming controller (take a look at our entry on the SteelSeries Nimbus). The new Apple TV has a starting retail price of $149.

Calibre Origin Laptop Backpack

Gift Idea from Robyn Oglesby
This backpack has really been a wonderful addition to my daily routine. It is designed to hold not only a MacBook Pro (13″ or 15″), but also your tablet and all of your cables and accessories. I typically carry a small arsenal of cables with me and while I was initially concerned about the amount of space available in this slim style backpack, my doubts were quickly assuaged and this backpack quickly replaced my older ‘school’ backpack. The Calibre Origin backpack is truly a professional looking sturdy backpack for all your work needs. I consider my laptop back my ‘go’ bag and really pack it with daily essentials. Organized space is something that is really important to me and you get that with the Calibre backpack. This backpack retails for $80 and is a great option for laptop bag.
BUY FROM AMAZON

Lenovo TAB 2 A10

Gift Idea from DJ Kunkel
With the Lenovo TAB 2 A10, you never have to be disconnected – whether you’re at your friend’s place, hanging out in the home, at school, or on the go grabbing a coffee. With a brilliant Full HD Screen and multi-speaker Sound Bar enhanced with Dolby Atoms 3D cinema sound, the TAB 2 A-10 is your best bet for watching that hot TV season finale, getting in a few laps in a racing game, or listening to your favorite band’s latest album – all without being chained to your couch and home theater. The Lenovo TAB 2 A10 retails for $180 and comes in different color options.
BUY ON AMAZON

Ring Video Doorbell

Gift Idea from Nicholas Calderone
I’ve been using Ring Video Doorbell for a while now and absolutely love it. I think it’s what really turned me on to setting my whole home up with automated/smart products. Before Ring was Ring, they were known as Doorbot and were also seen on Shark Tank. Now, rebranded as Ring they have pushed out an amazing wireless video doorbell that connects to your smart phone via an app. It lets you view and speak to people who arive at your doorstep. This is invaluable to me because I received packages on a daily basis and need to know when they are delivered. With Ring, I get a push notification letting me know when there is movement at the door and when someone actually rings the doorbell. I can let the visitor know that they can leave the package at the door or just to hold on a moment, while I make my way to the front door. This is also a hand option while you are away from home because you can still answer your door and no one knows that you’re not home. Ring retails for $200.
BUY FROM AMAZON

iON Wireless Qi Charging Case

Gift Idea from Robyn Oglesby
For quite some time, I have had an interest in wireless charging, but unfortunately, Apple iPhones are not naturally compatible with the Qi wireless standard. iOttie has created a specialized charging case for the iPhone that makes it possible to charge your phone wirelessly. The iON Wireless Charging Case by iOttie is designed as a slim case so that the natural design of the iPhone shines through. I really enjoy using this case because it makes it really easy to recharge the phone’s battery. You don’t have to worry about whether or not your phone has made a connection with a Lightning cable, you can just set it on the charging pad and it not worry about it. The iON Wireless Qi Charging Case is a very cool accessory for the iPhone. The case retails for $50.
BUY FROM AMAZON

PlayStation 4

Gift Idea from Brian Wharton
The PlayStation 4 may have been out for two years already, but it’s still the most dominant gaming system out right now. With the holiday season right around the corner, Sony has dropped the price $50 to make it all the more accessible to the masses. Gaming has never been bigger that it is right now. Major game reboots and sequels are happening all around us this time of year from all the big name studios making it all the more desirable. The PlayStation 4 isn’t just a gaming system either. You have access to most of the streaming services for video and audio with new ones added periodically. You add all of this together and this makes the PlayStation 4 a dominant multimedia experience for the whole family. The PS4 retails for $350.
BUY FROM AMAZON

Strap for Apple Watch

Gift Idea from Nicholas Calderone
Nomad creates some of my favorite accessories for Apple products. One product I’m currently reviewing from them is the Strap for Apple Watch. Since I’m still reviewing it and don’t want to give away many details yet, I will just say this – it’s awesome. It’s so awesome that it made the gift guide prior to the review being finished! The Strap is currently on pre-order and doesn’t start shipping until November 30th, but that still gives you plenty of time to order one before the holidays.
Pre-order

TYLT ENERGI 6K+ Smart Charger

Gift Idea from Robyn Oglesby
This portable battery charger not only incorporates a 6,000 mAh battery inside its case, but it also has a pre-installed Lightning cable so that it’s ready to charge your Apple devices at a moments notice. The 6,000 mAh battery is more than enough to charge up your iPhone, or other mobile phone, and even your tablet part of the way. The charging circuit is 2.4 Amp so it’s strong enough to handle the two devices simultaneously and pushes out enough power for a tablet like the iPad Air 2. This smart charger pushes out power to the device that needs it and doesn’t overcharge. Plus, this charger comes equipped with a plug on it so that you can easily use it as a power adapter for your devices or just plug it in to charge it back up. It’s great for travel and keeps things simple – you don’t have to have a lot of extra cables to make it work correctly. The TYLT ENERGI 6K+ Smart Charger retails for $80.
For more information, visit tylt.com/energi-6k-plus.

Amazon Echo

Gift Idea from Jon Walters
The number 1 item on my wish list is an Amazon Echo, a voice-activated smart hub and assistant. The external appearance is basic, black cylinder weighing in at about 2 pounds. The bottom half is composed of speaker and the top is solid with a few buttons. The main strength of the device is the microphone and speaker. From the many reviews I have read, the speaker is no Bose, no Sonos but is far superior to many other Bluetooth speakers. The sound is immersive, has a decent base feel and is a good sound. The speaker is not the main reason for my desire. There are 7 built in microphones that allow for 360 degree sensing. You can check weather, ask questions and have answers through web search, control your smart home, listen to a book through audible, set an alarm, make a shopping list and order it, control your Phillips Hue lights, and it will simply play music with voice commands, as the speakers alone make this device desirable. Amazon Echo retails for $180.
BUY FROM AMAZON

Jabra Eclipse Bluetooth Headset

Gift Idea from Nicholas Calderone
I have a small obsession with Bluetooth headsets. Every few months I add another to the collection and the Jabra Eclipse is the newest recruit for the bunch, and it has left a lasting impression on me. The Jabra Eclipse is designed to be stylish and discreet at the same time. The headset combines comfort and power in this tiny, sleek earpiece. Its sound is unrivaled and the headset features a premium music-grade speaker. Plus, it has HD voice technology, which enables the user to enjoy conversations over the phone as if the other person were in the same room. Something that is a little foreign to me is the fact that this headset has no buttons on it. When you want to use the headset, you simply double tap it and it connects. The combination of its simplicity and smooth design made me fall in love with this tiny headset immediately. This is a great option for users of all levels. It retails for $130.
BUY FROM AMAZON

BlueLounge Portiko

Gift Idea from Robyn Oglesby
One of the things that I really need more of is power outlets in my home. It never seems like there are enough and where they are located never seems to be convenient. That’s why I really love the Portiko by BlueLounge. Not only is BlueLounge one of my favorite accessory companies, but the Portiko is now one of my favorite accessories. So, what does it do? It’s essentially an extension cable that has a small power box on the end. The power box contains one standard power outlet and one USB port on each side of the box. One of the things I really like about this product is that it’s small enough to pack away and take with you anywhere. It’s a beautifully designed, colorful addition to our home. It retails for $25 and is a great option for charging your devices anywhere.
BUY FROM AMAZON

Leaf by Bellabeat

Gift Idea from Rebecca Armstrong
I’m a sucker for wearables, and I’ve been wanting to venture into the wide world of fitness trackers and health monitors because I feel like I should really start paying attention to my corporeal form. But I’ve held off. I know myself. I would never wear something like a FitBit or Jawbone often enough for it to be effective. If I’m going to be wearing anything, I’d like it to cute. Prettier than the aforementioned options and tailored for women, Leaf helps you keep track of your sleep quality, activity, stress levels, breathing, and monthly cycle without sacrificing style. It can be worn as a clip, necklace, or bracelet, and comes in silver, rose gold, and gold. You currently have to sign up for their waiting list to order. www.bellabeat.com
BUY FROM AMAZON

Twelve South Forte Apple Watch Stand

Gift Idea from Nicholas Calderone
One of my favorite technology breakthroughs of the year was the Apple Watch. I’ve loved what that amazing little device has given to my daily life and really love all of the innovative products that have been lauched as a result of its release. One such product is this amazing stand, the Forté by Twelve South. The Forté is meant as a direct compliment to the Apple Watch with its design directly inspired by the watch itself. The stand is made from a chrome plated metal alloy. It has a weighted base (0.77 pounds) so that you can rest assured that your watch is secure while it’s perched atop the Forté. The body of the stand rests at a 40-degree angle for perfect viewing of the watch in either Portrait or Nightstand mode. The body has a really nice S-Curve that allows you to slip your band through it for a more secure fit while it’s on the stand. I can’t say enough good things about Forté for Apple Watch. It’s a modern marvel of design and really makes a statement with the Apple Watch or on its own. It’s got the best design I’ve seen for a watch stand and recommend it as the essential charging option for the Apple Watch. The Forté retails for $60.

URPOWER LED Light-up Blueooth Speaker

Gift Idea from Robyn Oglesby
A couple of years ago I saw an LED Bluetooth speaker that seemed to dance with the music that was playing through it. I was in awe of that device and really wanted one of my very own. Well, I now have that in this tiny LED Bluetooth speaker from URPOWER. This Wireless Stereo Speaker with LED Lights utilizes Bluetooth 3.0 Technology. It promises to connect to your device within about three seconds of setting the speaker into pairing mode. Connection was very simple and quick and it amplifies the sound of your mobile device very well. There are very few Bluetooth accessories that I’ve been able to pair so easily. It has a a very vibrant array of colors and there are seven different modes to choose from. This is a very nice speaker and is affordable within its category. Not only does it put out nice sound, but it also provides a fun light show.
BUY FROM AMAZON

Western Digital 4TB Mybook USB 3.0 Hard Drive

Gift Idea from Jon Walters
Storage has become a problem for the Xbox One. 500 Gb just does not last very long when games take up anywhere from 20-50+ GB. This wasn’t much of an issue for me until recently, In order to give myself more hard drive space, I chose to add a WD 4 TB MyBook USB 3.0 hard drive into my gaming system. I have found transfer times are good, games play well and start very well. I have been very happy with this drive and recommend it for Xbox one owners. You want easy? All it took to use this was to plug it in. Xbox One immediately recognized it and formatted it. It can now be used in any Xbox One. The WD 4 TB MyBook can be used for other activities, too, but it’s exceptionally useful as a gaming hard drive. The MyBook retails for $120.
BUY FROM AMAZON

SteelSeries Nimbus Controller

Gift Idea from Nicholas Calderone
This amazing gaming controller really impressed me from the start. Right out of the box, the feel of holding it made me wish that this was my main gaming controller. Until I held the Nimbus, my favorite gaming control option was the Xbox controller. Nimbus beautifully combines the best parts of the Xbox and Playstation controllers. It connects easily to the Apple TV and control is a very fluid event with no issues with communication between the two devices. Playing games using the Nimbus really feels great and takes you back into childhood. While I was playing, I found myself feeling more like a kid playing those colorful games I grew up with – except that those games never looked as clean and crisp as they do on the new Apple TV. One additional feature that is very cool is the iOS app from SteelSeries that allows you to update your controller when it’s paired to your iPhone or iPad. The app also gives you a wonderful list of compatible games you can install and use with the Nimbus. I really feel that in order to get the best possible experience with the Apple TV, users should invest in a good Bluetooth controller and the Nimbus is probably the best one in the market. Nimbus has a superior build to it and fantastic design that gamers will cling to. The SteelSeries Nimbus retails for $50.

Jabra Move Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Gift Idea from Robyn Oglesby
The Move Wireless Headphones from Jabra are a must-have in my daily life. They are comfortable, provide a superior sound, and keep things quiet for others in the room. I like to listen to music while I write and find that sometimes ear buds are enough to isolate myself from the ambience in the room. These amazing headphones block out just enough of the ambient noise that I can focus on my work. I was immediately impressed with the sound quality of these headphones. They provide tremendous highs and lows along with exceptional depth. These headphones are an amazing option for anyone who enjoys listening to any style of music. The retail cost of these remarkable headphones is $100 and they are available in red, blue, or black.
BUY FROM AMAZON

Nomad Wallet

Gift Idea from Brian Wharton
I’ve carried the same wallet for a number of years and have found myself wishing for a better option. Nomad Wallet is a wonderfully crafted wallet that holds a 2400 mAh battery in its spine. This provides its bearer with enough power to recharge an iPhone 6 100%. The technology behind it is really pretty astounding. Nomad designers used an SoC (system on chip) microprocessor and 01005 grade components that allowed fora battery of that capacity to be packed into such a small space. Nomad really strives to make self-sufficient devices in small packages to make sure that users can maintain a nomadic, minimalist lifestyle. Few devices have worked their way into my everyday life and changed it for the better as quick as Nomad Wallet has done. I used to carry my Nomad Key in my wallet for all of my emergency charging. It’s like Nomad was watching me and responded accordingly. There is no going back to a standard wallet now. Nomad Wallet retails for $100.
BUY FROM AMAZON

iDevices Switch

Gift Idea from Nicholas Calderone
One of the additions we’ve made to our home automation collection this year is the iDevices Switch. This handy home automated product allows you to control any device you have with your phone. Switch is a HomeKit-enabled connected plug. It plugs into your regular wall outlet and then your home devices plug into it. Switch sort of acts as a pass-through for the wall outlet’s power, but before it sends power to your device, your phone has to tell it what to do. It’s designed to make it easier to control the devices in your home (15 amps or less) like lamps, fans, crockpots, space heaters, etc. from anywhere using Siri or the iDevices Connected app. I have tried out other ‘smart’ plugs like the Belkin WeMo Switches and have found the iDevices Switch to be much more user friendly. On the rare occasions I’ve had to reconnect it or reset it, it’s much easier to get up and running than the WeMos and connection to HomeKit has been very easy. Even though there are some limitations – only iOS users can really enjoy this device – I think it’s a very smooth way to transition your home to being ‘smarter.’ The iDevices Switch retails for $59.
BUY FROM AMAZON

TYLT Capio Car Mount

Gift Idea from Robyn Oglesby
I’m really not much for car mounts for mobile phones. They just never seem to work right. My opinion changed drastically when I was introduced to the Capio 2.0 from TYLT. The Capio is a universal car mount with a micro suction cup base that allows you to affix it to virtually any location in your car. I chose to put the mount on the control panel of my car so that my phone was not in the middle of my windshield, distracting me as I drive, and it’s still within easy reach should I need my phone while I’m commuting. This mount has a quick release button on the back that allows you to quickly grab your phone with one handed. At first, I was concerned about the stability of this mount, but after using it for several weeks, I can say that my phone has never once fallen out of the mount and it actually stays in one place while I drive and doesn’t shake much at all. The Capio 2 retails for $30.
BUY FROM AMAZON