Tis the time for planning holiday shopping, and with the recent release of new iPad and MacBook Air models plus the Black Friday tech specials headed our way, there is no better time to consider what to get to enhance that new MacBook you will be getting. As a heads-up, some of the recommendations are backwards compatible so if you get disappointed and have to make the most of your older MacBook Air, the list will still be useful and you can plan on taking advantage of the New Year’s deals that are sure to come your way.
1. OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock.
Port expansions are a necessity for any serious user of a Mac, and OWC managed to create a product that is well-designed and maximizes functionality with a unique simplicity. The Thunderbolt 3 Dock includes with its five USB 3.1 ports, a FireWire 800 connection, SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet port, mini display port, and an S/PDIF connection. You can also charge your MacBook without the charger, as it has a USB-C to USB-C cable connector. The dock does require an AC power outlet, and its size may not be the most ideal for users who are constantly on the go. It is a bit on the pricey side for some users (just under $400) but once you weigh out the benefits, the dollars invested will be well worth the productivity increase.
2. Headphones or Earbuds
With the first recommendation we may have scared a few people thinking this will be a list for the well-to-do. Well, fear not, as this choice is good for the average person who wants high quality but can’t afford the high end Bose headphones. The Audio-Technica ATH_M50x goes for about $150, though you may find them cheaper. They have the deep quality bass and accurate sound people often look for, but are also quality crafted. In effect, you get the best of both worlds in a manageably priced package. Both durable and comfortable, a must for those long playing sessions, they are one of the most reliable products on the market.
3. RAVPower 26800 Power Bank
The main criticism is that it isn’t compatible with previous versions of the MacBook, but since you are thinking about getting a new one anyway, we can ignore this. It definitely is affordable, only $79 at a number of online stores, and packs a 26,800 mAh capacity that allows you to charge both Apple and non-Apple devices. Its USB-C port can bring the power bank to full charge in less than 5 hours, so you can be up and moving in 30% of the time than typical power banks.
4. External Storage
External storage has always provided another level of flexibility and usefulness to your MacBook. Since the larger external devices such as hard drives is covered in the next section, we prioritized storage capacity and compactness in our decision. Here, the SanDisk Ultra 128 Gb Dual USB Drive is all of an inch and a half long regardless whether you choose the 128 Gb storage size or the 256 Gb option. We made the 128 Gb choice as our final one since it is about $30, but for double the price you can get double the storage capacity. There is a native USB-C and more traditional USB 3.0 port that is backward compatible with USB 2.0, so it works on every MacBook product. It is simple, easy to use, and does what is expected of it.
5. External Disc Drives
External Disc Drives have largely been replaced by cloud storage, both intentionally by design and largely by user preference. Realizing that there are those who buck the trends (a basic characteristic of Apple owners) we added this to the end of the list as a tribute to those who remain true to the foundation of Apple. With this final recommendation we also stayed true to Apple and chose the Apple USB SuperDrive. At $79 this is a very affordable choice for expanding your disk space without having to access the cloud storage options. The optical drives have been eliminated from the latest MacBook models, so having a SuperDrive gives you the ability to still watch DVDs and have a secure location for backing up files. The downside is that you need an adapter to make it work with its older USB port, but it’s a minor trade-off when you consider that when Skynet becomes self-aware you can still watch Rise of the Machines.