There are a lot of Apple gift guides floating around, as we’re getting into prime holiday shopping time. We thought we’d instead use our collective experience here at TAB to create an anti-gift guide. Basically, this is a list of gadgets and accessories you should avoid at all costs, unless your aim is to fill up the closets and desk drawers of people you feel ambivalent about with seldom-used junk.
Apple’s iPad Case. This is a great example of how Apple can sometimes miss the mark when it comes to making accessories for its own products. I have the case, and the case isn’t actually that bad, but if you’re like me (and everyone I know who owns one), you’ll never use it after you take it off for the first time.
It doesn’t really work well as a stand, though it does provide some good protection for your iPad’s surfaces. But it makes the iPad unwieldy, and there are clear shields that offer the same level of protection with a much lower profile for the same price or cheaper. It’s only real advantage is the Apple logo, but definitely pass if you want to give a gift people will actually use.
Apple’s Camera Connector Kit. I’m a fairly avid amateur photographer, so I thought this would be a great buy. Like the official iPad Case, though, I’ve used it only maybe once or twice since I got one nearly six months ago. We’ve covered its additional features in the past, but they don’t offer enough to really justify a need for most users, either.
The kit’s problem is that it falls in a gap between user groups. Casual photogs won’t bother uploading directly to the iPad, since they probably manage albums on iPhoto only once in a while through batch uploads or the past few months. People who take pictures all the time probably want to edit and organize them in a proper library using Aperture or Lightroom. Apple’s onboard tools for organizing and editing photos on the iPad are still too limited for pros and prosumers.
Any Induction Charging Mat. This seems like a cool, futuristic gift for the gadget lover in your life, but trust me, it isn’t. Actually, it is futuristic, but that’s exactly why you shouldn’t grab one now. Wait until device makers build the tech into their products, since being stuck with a clunky case that probably isn’t that attractive or especially functional isn’t fun. Plus the cases for these things tend to get really hot, which I worry about in terms of device health in the long term.
Mophie Juice Pack Air (iPhone 4 Version). I had a Juice Pack Air for my iPhone 3GS, and I used it, but not frequently enough to justify the purchase. The iPhone 4 version will get even less use from the average device owner, since the new iPhone has improved battery life.
Recently, it’s also come to light that the slide-on design employed by Mophie with the Juice Pack might not be all that great for the back glass of the iPhone 4. I’ve already gone on record as believing that that’s a risk customers should be free to take, but your giftee might not appreciate the scratch marks all the same.
MacBook Air External SuperDrive. It looks good, but that’s about the only thing this external CD/DVD drive has going for it. For starters, it only works with the MacBook Air or Mac mini server. Secondly, it’s overpriced for what it provides. You can get external drives elsewhere for much less that will work with all of your machines, Air or otherwise. They might not be quite as stylish, but if the person you’re buying for opted for an Air, they probably won’t need to use an external drive that much anyways, so looks shouldn’t matter for the two or three times they do.
Apple Magic Mouse. I’m not a fan of this mouse, as I’ve mentioned in the past. Even if I didn’t personally dislike the thing, there are just better deals out there for more comfortable designs with better tracking. Try Logitech and Microsoft, both of which have been making mice for a long time now, and updating their designs and technology more than just sporadically. If you’re buying for a casual user who wants everything Mac, opt for the Magic Trackpad instead. It’s better on battery life, and at this point, most are used to using a trackpad on a notebook anyway.
That’s our list. We tried to stick with things that seem like good ideas, but actually won’t be of much use to those on your gift-giving list. Feel free to include your own suggestions in the comments.
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):