The Apple Core Hardware Gift Guide 2013

Summary:My year end wrap-up of the best Apple hardware and accessories of the year.

Runners up

Sony Alpha 7R full-frame dSLR killer - Jason O'Grady

There are a couple of products that I earmarked for inclusion in this year's guide but either they weren't ready for primetime or I didn't get a change to fully test them in time for this guide. They're noteworthy nonetheless and worth a look: 

Epson WorkForce WF-2540 color inkjet printer ($89, Amazon) – I have two printers in my home office, a color laser for the important stuff and an inkjet for everything else. My trusty Canon PIXMA inkjet blew a print head and the part was more than a new printer costs, so it's ewaste and needed to be replaced. My criteria were pretty simple: a wireless inkjet printer that worked with AirPrint. I first checked inkjet printers sold at the Apple Online Store because everything they sell is tested to work with Apple products. The problem is that Apple charges full list price ($129), where Amazon sells it for $89, Prime. I didn't seek out the non-printer features (i.e. fax and scanner), but the ADF/scanner feature is nice for making a quick copy. 

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 scanner ($409, Amazon) – This is the successor to the company's wildly successful S1500M which I've used since 2009. My Mom needed a scanner, so I gave her my S1500M and upgraded to the iX500. While spendy at $400+ the ScanSnap is a high-quality scanner. My first project was to scan about 800 pages of 30-year-old letter-sized pages of historical information and the iX500 handled it deftly without missing a page (grabbing two pages at once), jamming or damaging any of the less-than-perfect originals. The updated scanner is wireless and can scan directly to an iPhone via the ScanSnap app (free, App Store) without being connected to a Mac. The wireless feature works great and is incredibly power for the occasional quick scan. I'm using the iX500 to scan and archive an entire file cabinet of old papers in the new year, and you should too. 

Nest Protect ($129) – This is a reboot of the smoke and CO2 detector by the folks that rebooted the household thermostat (which landed in my 2012 Gift Guide). Nest Protect solves two annoying smoke detector problems, ours emits a death shrill any time I overcook the bacon (which makes my children cry). Then I have to open windows and wave newspapers at it to make it stop. Battery-powered smoke detectors also chirp when their batteries get low, often at all hours of night. Nest Protect solves both problems with a heads-up warning (in a human voice) which you can dismiss by waving your arm at it. It also tells you (again, in a human voice) when it's batteries are low. I haven't installed ours yet, but I can't wait to. 

Range Thermometer (pre-order, from $49) – Everyone has to eat, so why not make it fun? I'm a big fan of cooking on our gas grill and charcoal smoker, and both methods of cooking require a digital thermometer to get temperatures right so that you don't overcook your steaks, chicken or burgers. Smokers add another level of difficulty because cooking "slow and low" requires a consistent temperature over a long period of time (typically 2-8 hours) and you don't want to keep opening the lid to test the temperature of your meat. This is where a remote thermostat is critical. I currently use a $30 remote thermometer that I purchased from Bed, Bath and Beyond, but I can't wait for Range to start shipping so that I can monitor my Tri-Tip from my iPhone. Mmm...

Sony Alpha 7R full-frame digital camera ($2,298, body) – This dSLR killer is the world’s first 35mm full-frame compact system camera and the world’s smallest, lightest interchangeable lens camera with a full-frame sensor. The a7r has an ISO range of 50-51200, fast intelligent auto focus, XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, tiltable 3-inch LCD screen, NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity, Full 60p/24p HD movie recording and 4K photo output for viewing on Ultra HD displays and TVs all packed in a dust/moisture-resistant magnesium alloy body. Most importantly is that is weighs one-third of my Nikon D4 that is just replaced.

Sony RX100 II ($749) – When you don't need a full-frame sensor a little point-and-shooter is a better fit. It's easily pocketable and won't get stopped going into a concert or live performance. But don't let it's diminutive size fool you. It packs a potent 20MP sensor, a bright F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens (with 3.6x zoom), Wi-Fi, NFC and a tiltable screen. I've only had mine a couple of days and it still continues to blow me away. 

Topics: Apple, Hardware


Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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