15 Comments

Summary:

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. Here’s what you shouldn’t give this holiday season.

anti-gift-feature

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.

For iPad

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.

For iPhone

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.

For Mac

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):

  1. A couple of objections from a non-fanboy:

    1. While the Apple iPad case is overpriced, it’s much thinner than the others I’ve seen in person, and it will actually provide some protection if it drops. I’ve covered the Apple logo with a Backcountry.com mountain goat.

    2. The iPad camera connector is awesome if you have a large storage iPad. I have 32GB, and when I travel w/o a laptop (it’s so awesome to do this, BTW) it’s great to sync the camera to the iPad to free up space. Just did this with 20GB worth of pictures from Spain.

    3. The Magic Mouse is awesome — if you are using something like Better Touch Tool to enhance it’s flexibility. I’ll never understand why Apple creates products like this and then intentionally gimps them.

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  2. Couldn’t disagree more about the apple iPad case…I have only ever taken my ipad out of the case to show people the back of the iPad and then can’t wait to get it back in the case…it!s a great case and very protective.

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  3. Regarding the Magic Mouse: the killer app, so to speak, on the Magic Mouse is horizontal scrolling, especially in OS X where there is a fair amount of horizontal scrolling. The Mighty Mouse was a horizontal scrolling champion. I use a MS mouse on my Mac Pro at work, and horizontal scrolling on that thing is a nightmare: pushing the scroll wheel to the side is cumbersome. Really I want just a few things out of a mouse that are surprisingly difficult to find:

    1. track smoothly
    2. wireless, preferably without hogging a USB port and reasonable battery life
    3. smooth vertical AND horizontal scrolling
    4. low memory overhead in the drivers
    5. right click
    (6. not shaped like a hockey puck, i.e. comfortable, which nearly every mouse but the hockey puck was)

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    1. But the new magic mouse doesn’t fit into your hand that well either does it? Just like the hockey puck, it’s an ergonomical nightmare.

      As far as I know, no apple or other mice exist that track really smoothly. For some reason, mouse tracking in OS X is just a bit slow.

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  4. Most of this seems like a matter of opinion…

    Personally, I really like the Apple iPad case. It’s simple, provides a little extra protection and doesn’t add bulk. I shopped around a lot for a similar case, and kept coming back to Apple’s. It’s pricey, but it’s good. The only thing I’d like is a slim pocket on the cover to store a few pieces of paper.

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  5. I can categorically state that the author has no idea what he is talking about with the following products:

    * Apple’s iPad Case
    * Apple’s Camera Connector Kit
    * Apple Magic Mouse

    Apple’s iPad Case — This is a great case that does work well as a stand, and when laid down in landscape mode, gives the perfect working angle for serious keyboard input. It also makes the iPad less slippery and, thus, easier to hold. (It’s not at all unwieldy.)You won’t regret the money you spend on it and you will put it back in, if you ever even bother to take it out.

    Apple’s Camera Connector Kit — If you plan to travel with your iPad and a camera, get this. You can connect with either the camera’s USB cable, or pop out the SD card and insert it directly. Fantastic for viewing your photos on your iPad during your trip and clearing up space for more on your SD card. You can also use the USB connector to connect a USB Keyboard. If you are in to photography, this is a must have iPad accessory.

    Apple Magic Mouse — While the Magic Trackpad is great for casual computing, when you’re doing serious text or code editing, or graphics work without a tablet, you’ll want the greater control the mouse gives you compared to the trackpad. Ideally, you should have both, but if you only had one and you need fine control, get the Magic Mouse. It really is a great mouse.

    I’ve not used the other products he mentions, but his ill-informed opinions on the ones I am familiar with suggest that he probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about with them either.

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  6. Magic Mouse shouldn’t be on this list, nor should the Magic Trackpad be suggested in place of it. Being a mouse it is infinitely better than a trackpad and it more or less should be viewed as a hybrid between the mouse and the trackpad, bringing touch and gesture functionality to the mouse.

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  7. Couldn’t disagree with you more regarding the iPad case and the Magic Mouse. I love both.
    The case protects the iPad, it’s light weight, and I can fold it over if I want to use it as a stand.
    The Magic Mouse is the best mouse I’ve ever used. I love that the top works as a track pad, and yet it still moves like a regular mouse.
    Additionally, the track pad is absolutely horrible for photo editing and graphic design work.

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  8. Looks like this entry drew up some controversy :) One must-have item for your iOS devices is CLEAR’s iSpot (unlimited data at higher speeds and lower prices than ATTs plans). See all of Clear’s top gadgets for this seasons at theclearblog.com.

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  9. I’m going to throw my hat in the ring for Apple’s iPad case as well. I’ve never taken it off my iPad and I’ve never had a problem with it. It’s light, thin, provides a fair amount of drop protection, and it does just fine as a stand when you need it. Everyone I know that has an iPad also has the case from Apple and no one has said anything bad about it.

    Also, why the hate on the MBA super drive? I mean, it is what it is. You only buy that if you need it for something. Who would buy that as a gift?

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  10. A couple of objection

    First, I love the Magic mouse, the scrolling and control (except in Photoshop) is great, the best I ever used. I also think the iPad camera connector is great when traveling to send quick snap.

    As for the iPad case, I bought it the same day I bought my iPad thinking I would buy another case as soon as I would find one that I really like but it’s still the only case have. I find it pretty versatile, really small, does help to handling as I find the naked iPad to be a little too slippy. I’m still looking for a better case but haven’t find any yet.

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  11. Hamranhansenhansen Friday, November 19, 2010

    With the Camera Connection Kit, photos go from your 16GB SD card to your 64GB iPad and then later from the iPad to Mac. iPad enables you to reuse the card and delete unwanted photos before you import to your Mac. The Kit also gives you a USB port for hooking on keyboards, audio interfaces, soon MIDI interfaces, and more. So if you are giving a gift to someone with both an iPad and many USB devices, it is a great gift even if they are not a photographer.

    I agree you should not give the MacBook Air SuperDrive, because most users find they can live without it and that is part of the point of MacBook Air. However, for someone you know has a need for a SuperDrive for their MacBook Air, I disagree that paying $25 less for a Samsung is a good idea. The Samsung is much bulkier, made of plastic instead of metal, and has a drawer instead of a slot. Further, you don’t need it to work on other Macs because they all have SuperDrives.

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  12. I’m going to agree with the author on the Magic Mouse. First I have to say – it’s has some promising aspects. The good parts are all the things you can do by stroking the mouse: scrolling, navigating back and forth, etc. Sliding your fingers along the mouse is better than any scroll wheel. Way better.

    But it is ergonomically awkward. The pointy edges and odd curvature makes gripping the thing for any length of time a literal pain.

    And the worst thing about this mouse is trying to use it as a _mouse_. Apple just never seems to get that functionality to work, and the Magic Mouse doesn’t vary from that trend. It tracks badly, has a tendency to jump from one position to the next on the screen, and often fails to recognize secondary (right) clicks.

    I wanted to love this mouse. And for the first months, I actually *did* love it. But the more I use it, the less I like it.

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  13. I think you pretty much miss the mark on all of your picks.

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  14. You’re batting about .500. If this was baseball, you’d be doing OK.

    In practice, that’s probably even a tad better than usual. Other folks will note the details. I don’t think this post deserves that much attention.

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