If you've got a couple extra bucks in your budget this year there are a couple of middle priced (US$100-300) gifts that up that I want to recommend. If this isn't quite your price range, feel free to check out my list of Mac-related gift ideas under $100 in Bargain Apples. From 3G cards to touchscreen Internet appliances, this list has something for you.
What can you say that hasn't already been said about the iPhone? It's a do everything, communication/entertainment device with a touchscreen and a dead simple interface. Since the App Store opened there's now over 5,000 applications to choose from making the iPhone pretty much unstoppable.
The only caveat is the network, make sure that AT&T has acceptable coverage (both phone and 3G) in your area before signing on the two-year line. If you can live with AT&T the iPhone 3G is hard to live without. So while it's not perfect, it's pretty darned close and getting better with every update.
Price: $199 (8GB) $299 (16GB)
If you don't have an iPhone but need a music player skip the nano and splurge on the iPod touch instead. The extra $70 buys you all the benefit of the iPhone (like the App Store) without the monthly bill.
It's also perfect for anyone waiting for a 2-year mobile phone contract with another carrier to expire. The 2G "iTouch" is thinner than the previous model and has external volume controls, Nike+ integration and on-the-fly genius playlist. Plus it's $100 cheaper than before making it a no-brainer.
Price: US$229 (8GB), $299 (16GB), and $399 (32GB)Chumby
Think of it as a thin touchscreen Internet client – on a budget. Chumby is a small Internet appliance that rotates between personalized news/weather/stock information (for example) pulled from the Internet. The best part is that there are a bunch of cool widgets (a.k.a. channels) available and it's dead simple to customize via the Web.
Chumby is more than a digital photo frame and a great alarm clock (you can wake up to the podcast of the NY Times) it even streams music courtesy of Pandora. And although it works on the nightstand, resist the urge. It's even better in the kitchen or bathroom.
Price: US$199 (pearl or varsity blue), US$179 (black or latte)Mophie Juice Pack 3G
The iPhone 3G battery leaves a lot to be desired. If you're a commuter or otherwise use a lot of GPS, 3G and/or Wi-Fi you can expect to see the 20 percent battery warning around mid-day.
Because Apple didn't make the iPhone battery removable they created a cottage industry for third-party iPhone batteries. Unlike the iPhone battery from Richard Solo (which hangs off the bottom) the Mophie Juice Pack for the iPhone 3G is two devices in one: an extended battery and an iPhone case. The combination iPhone 3G case and embedded battery is perfect for power users that need the extra juice all the time.
Price: US$99.95Verizon Wireless USB727 Modem
Until AT&T and Apple offer an "official" way to tether the iPhone, MacBook owners needing fast, on-demand broadband access on the road will turn to devices like the Verizon Wireless USB727 EV-DO Rev. A modem. The 727 is a rebadged Novatel USB727 and is smaller, sleeker and faster than most modems in its class.
Rev. A EV-DO is capable of downloading at 600–1400kbps and uploading at 500–800 kbps. The USB727 is compatible with all devices that support the Type A USB interface and comes with a nice Mac OS X driver. The 727 also has a feature not found on other EV-DO modems: an integrated microSD slot supporting up to 4GB cards.
Price: US$29 (after $50 rebate, requires 2-year agreement)
Designed to fit perfectly under a Mac mini, the NewerTech miniStack v.2.5 is the perfect addition to a media center setup where space can be limited.
The miniStack v.2.5 combines a powered FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 hub and a 7200RPM SATA hard drive (up to 1.0TB) in a convenient package. The single best feature is the side-mounted USB and FireWire ports (right) which make it easy to connect devices and drives without having to climb into the depths of your entertainment center.
Price: US$105 (80GB) $230 (1TB)
Although it cost less than US$100, I forgot to include this one on my list of holiday Bargain Apples. Combined with a MB/MBP battery (US$129) the combo will set you back over US$200.
The FastMac U-Charge battery charger is a must have accessory if you regularly use a second MacBook battery and want to keep it topped off. It looks like an AC adaptor with a special charger tail that connects to the contacts on Apple batteries.
It charges all 10.8 volt Apple batteries produced since 1999 including the iBook, PowerBook, MacBook and MacBook Pro. They also offer a 14.4 volt U-Charge that works with the iBook clamshell, PowerBook G4 Titanium, and iBook G3/G4 14-inch.