Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 18, 2011

Put some Apple accessories under the tree this year

By Jake Crandall
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

— I have no qualms about it, I’m a self admitted Apple fanboy.

   There’s a saying that goes: “How can you tell an Apple user at a party? Don’t worry, they’ll show you.”

That’s me, and judging by Apple’s last quarter sales, I know I’m not alone.

So you took my advice last month and waited in line on Black Friday. You scored a new iDevice, or maybe a new Mac for yourself or a loved one. Only one question remains, “What can I do with it?”

You’re in luck.

Apple products are, in my humble opinion, one of the easiest and affordable products to accessorize. Between third-party add-ons and the AppStore, the capabilities of iOS devices (or iDevices) are seemingly endless. There’s a multitude of products out there to fill a stocking, and then some.

The most simple of these gift solutions are iTunes gift cards. You can buy music, movies, apps and games with them. And if you’re buying for a younger techie, it’s a whole lot safer than handing them a credit card number. (Google search: “8-year-old girl racks up $1,400 bill on ‘Smurfs village’ game”) Plus, iCloud allows you to seamlessly access your music and movie purchases on your iDevices or Mac.

As an entré into the AppStore, consider picking up Angry Birds ($.99). This highly addictive game is a perennial favorite game in our house. For movie and music creation and editing, GarageBand and iMovie are great apps ($4.99 each). They’re both universal apps, which means you can buy for one device and use it on all iDevices. And there’s always Facebook and Twitter (both free) to keep you connected. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other apps to fill most of your productivity, entertainment, and social networking needs.

There’s also some awesome new toys flying around this holiday season. The HELO TC ($49.99 from Griffin Technology. www.griffintechnology.com) is a mini RC helicopter you to control via your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Download the free app from the AppStore, plug in the included dock, and use the virtual control sticks or the built in accelerometer in your device to fly. If you’re looking for a bit of a higher-tech mini Helo, consider the Parrot AR.Drone (www. parrot.com). Its $300 price tag brings you the ability to see where you’re flying through the use of two cameras and a slew of augmented reality games to put you into the virtual pilot’s seat.

If it’s toddlers and younger children you’re shopping for, Griffin has also teamed up with Crayola to create the iMarker ($29.99) and it’s free companion app ColorStudio HD for the iPad. While the iMarker is not required to use the ColorStudio app, it unlocks features not available without the iMarker. The iMarker is a battery powered capacitive touch stylus that simulates the use of crayons and markers without any of the mess.

And if that’s not enough to keep your youngsters entertained, Disney’s Cars 2 AppMates figurines feature characters from the movie that interact with scenes on the iPad.

For the more advanced users, there are tons of other high-tech options to consider. The iCade from thinkgeek.com (On sale for $69.99) is an arcade style controller for iPad. It started as an April fools joke, but the demand for the nostalgic accessory forced the development of a fully functional controller.

If you’re looking for extreme protection for an iDevice, Griffin again answers the call with it’s “Survivor” line of products ($39.99-79.99). Built to meet or exceed US Department of Defense standards, this case will wrap your iPhone iPod touch or iPad in rugged protection from bumps, and bruises and rain or in the case of us WNYers, snow. (Not water-proof)

Can’t find the remote? Tried digging through the cushions of the couch to no avail? Always have your iDevice handy? Enter the “Beacon”. ($69.99 from Griffin) This handy device fills in for your universal remote by using the bluetooth connection on your iDevice to translate it to a signal that your TV, home theater, or other infrared controlled components can understand. The best part is, no bulky cases or dongles to attach like some of the other iOS universal remote solutions out there.

Lastly, for the music enthusiasts on your list, the iRig ($39.99 at local retailers or www.ikmultimedia.com) is a guitar-to-iPod/iPhone/iPad interface that enables recording of live guitars or other instruments. Download the free Amplitube app from the AppStore, plug in an axe and record. With the ability to pick from 11 different effects (3 simultaneously) 5 amps, 5 cabinets, and 2 mics the artist on your list can get just the tone they’re looking for.

While this list may be rather long, hopefully you’ll check it twice, stuff some tech-goodies under the tree, and have a happy holiday.

Jake Crandall is a page designer for the Union-Sun

& Journal. You can reach

him at jacob.crandall@