Dr. Mac's Tried and True Apple Holiday Gift Guide (Part 1)

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #99


I love discovering new gadgets that do something cool. The OS X Dictionary defines a gadget as a small mechanical device or tool, especially an ingenious or novel one. That works for me. And since everyone knows how much I love good gadgets, the good gadget makers send me their latest and greatest to play with. Two or three new gadgets show up here every week for me to evaluate and check out for you, week in and week out. I know… it’s a tough job, but I love it.

So all year long I look for the very best gadgets to put in a gift guide like this. Without further ado, here are some of the niftier gadgets I tested this year, all of which make great gifts for geeks you love. And if you love a lot of geeks or are on a tight budget, you’ll be happy to know that most of my picks are under $60.

Nova Bluetooth iPhone Flash

One of my favorite gadgets (if not my very favorite) this year is the Nova Bluetooth iPhone Flash. No bigger than a stack of five or six credit cards, this minuscule marvel houses an array of 40 little tiny LEDs nestled behind a soft white diffuser.

The Nova Bluetooth iPhone Flash is small enough to carry in your wallet

The light it produces is brighter than you’d expect from something so tiny and thin, and the free NovaCamera app offers presets for gentle, warm, neutral, or bright light, or lets you create a custom lighting preset with Warm and Cool Brightness sliders:

The settings screen for the NovaCamera app is simple and effective

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this handy gadget is equally useful for shooting video or stills. And that the camera app also offers separate focus and exposure lock points.

If you’ve got to get a gift for an iPhone photography nut (like yours truly), look no further; I’m sure they’ll love this little gem as much as I do.

Kinivo ZX100 Mini Speaker

If you’re on a tighter budget and need something for the music loving geeks in your life, check out the Kinivo ZX100 Mini Speaker, a sweet little speaker with a pop-up bass resonator, a rechargeable 6-hour battery,  integrated audio cable (no Bluetooth), and even a little cloth carrying pouch. It’s not a bad speaker for its size and price -- it’s on sale for just $18.95 (regularly $30.95). Since I don’t know when the sale ends,  you might want to jump on this one sooner rather than later to avoid paying nearly double.

The Kinivo ZX100 — a bargain at $18.95

Next: Skinit Skins, iGrill 2, and Stretchwrite

Page 2 - Skinit Skins, iGrill 2, and Stretchwrite


Skinit Skins

Another reasonably-priced gift is a skin for phones, tablets, and laptops from Skinit.com. Starting at just $14.99, these brightly printed skins are fabricated out of automotive-grade vinyl and are easy to apply. They offer some protection from scratches and dings and look ever so cool. Choose from thousands of pre-made designs — from school and sports logos to superheros and cartoon characters, as well as interesting patterns, designs, faux finishes and more — or for an even more exclusive one-of-a-kind gift, upload your own photo(s) to create a custom skin like mine:

The one-of-a-kind skin I created from a panorama I shot (with my iPhone 5s) in downtown Austin (TX) last year

iGrill 2

For geeks who groove on outdoor cooking (like yours truly), check out iGrill 2, a smart grilling thermometer that reports the ambient temperature inside your grill as well as the internal temperature of up to three items, and relays it via Bluetooth to the (free) iDevices Connected app on your iDevice. It’s quickly become one of my favorite cooking toys; my smoked meats have never tasted better.

iGrill 2 has multiple temperature probes so you can remotely monitor ambient grill temperature plus the internal temperature of up to three different meat items  

Data from iGrill 2 as seen in the iDevices Connected app on an iDevice 


For those on a super-tight budget, check out StretchWrite, a doohickey that turns your pen or pencil into a decent stylus. Its ingenious design includes a comfortable soft grip, with the pen/pencil tip at one end and the stylus tip at the other. At 2 for $10 they make perfect stocking stuffers.  

A StretchWrite alongside a pen (top) and stretched onto a pen (bottom). 

And that's all I've got for this episode. Watch for Dr. Mac’s Tried & True Holiday Gift Guide (Part 2), coming soon…

And that’s all he wrote…

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