Macworld Gear Guide 2006

More Stories in this Series

Gear Guide: For the office and the road

Whether you spend your days behind a desk or on the go, there’s a surplus of gadgets and gizmos out there that will help make your Mac experience that much sweeter. But you don’t have to take time out of your busy day to search high and low for the fun and practical Mac add-ons—we do all the hard work for you as part of our annual Gear Guide. In part one, we look at gear for the office and for the open road that will make Mac users happy this holiday season.

Gear for the Office

Workers of the world, unite—you have nothing to lose but your lackluster gadgets, once they’re replaced with this new and improved loot. Here are five gift ideas for the nine-to-fiver in your life, available in a wide range of prices:

  • Gear for less than $30: Color-Call Caller ID
  • Gear for $31 to $60: Jabra BT160 headset
  • Gear for $61 to $150: Surge3000 Calamari Edition
    Motorola C51 Communication System
  • Gear for $151 to $300: Aegis Mini
  • Colorful conversations

    If you’re going to walk around with a Bluetooth headset hanging off your ear, you may as well like the way it looks. Jabra’s BT160 headset includes 33 designer covers—from hip patterns to solid colors to fun figures—so you can customize its appearance. (Yes, longtime Mac users—they’re very similar to the case inserts for Apple’s PowerBook 1400.) Artistically inclined talkers can even make their own covers. Boasting up to 110 hours of standby time and up to eight hours of talk time, the BT160 should last through even marathon hands-free conversations, and an adjustable rubber earclip provides a comfortable fit. The BT160 works with any Bluetooth phone and some Bluetooth-enabled Macs.—DAN FRAKES

    Jabra BT160

    BT160 headset: $60; Jabra

    PowerSquid
    Surge-a-pod

    PowerSquid’s five-tentacle Outlet Multiplier was all the rage a year ago; it let you plug in five bulky “wall wart” power adapters without a single one of them feeling crowded. Over the past year, the original circuit cephalopod has evolved into the Surge3000 Calamari Edition, which offers six outlets (two of them glow, to make plugging them in under desks easier); 3,240 joules of surge protection, including coaxial-cable, DSL, and phone protection; power filtering; and a $500,000 surge-protection warranty for connected equipment. The Surge3000 itself can plug into almost any outlet space, thanks to its unique low-profile, swiveling plug. Finally, the device’s white and blue curves make the Surge3000 one of the most attractive surge protectors you’ll find.—DF

    Surge3000 Calamari Edition: $80; PowerSquid

    Color me busy

    The phone rings—so you look up from that project you’re trying to finish before the noon deadline. You notice that a round plastic object next to the phone is glowing blue. This color tells you that the call is from one of your pals, so it can wait until you’ve met your deadline. And it’s all thanks to the Color-Call Caller ID, which takes call screening to new, color-coded heights. You can assign one of four colors—red, blue, green, and purple—to as many as 100 numbers, so you can quickly see which group a caller belongs to. The Color-Call features an LCD that shows both the number and the name of the caller, and it lets you adjust its brightness—so you can see the red glow of your boss’s phone call from across the room.—DERIK DELONG

    Color Call Caller ID

    Color-Call Caller ID: $30; Brookstone

    Motorola C51
    One phone to rule them all

    A lot of cordless phones out there come with multiple handsets, but how many do you know of that can double as a bridge to your cell phone—and even act as surveillance equipment? Motorola’s C51 Communication System can do these things and more; its array of add-ons includes a color-screen-equipped handset that works with a wireless camera/intercom accessory for video and audio monitoring, and a Bluetooth accessory that works with your mobile phone so you can use the C51’s handset to place and answer mobile calls.—PETER COHEN

    C51 Communication System: handset with digital answering machine, $70; wireless camera/intercom accessory, $80; Bluetooth interface, $100; Motorola, www.motorola.com

    Nothing left to lose

    Portable FireWire hard drives are both fast and handy, but toting around a cable—to say nothing of an AC adapter—means having one more thing to plug before you can actually play. It also means one more thing to possibly lose. Not so with Apricorn’s Aegis Mini. Available in 30GB and 60GB capacities, the Mini has a built-in FireWire cable that tucks in tightly for travel. Plus, it’s bus-powered, so you won’t be tied in FireWire or adapter knots when trying to transfer files.—ERIC SUESZ

    Aegis Mini

    Aegis Mini: 30GB, $169; 60GB, $249; Apricorn

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