Office workers and photographers use their Macs for two very different purposes—one group turns to the Mac to help them get their job done quickly and easily, while the other is looking to store, edit, and print digital images. Yet both disparate segments of the Mac universe have at least one thing in common—a slew of gotta-have gadgets that will enhance their Mac. In this first part of Macworld ’s Gear Guide, we look at half-a-dozen gadgets that will make ideal gifts for the office worker or photographer in your life.
How to Spot Them: They populate cubicles and office parks from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, and all points in between. They’re clad in business-casual and turn to their Macs to handle everything from preparing design proposals to filing those tricky TPS reports. And they’re a little bit burned out on the coffee mugs they’ve received as presents every year since entering the workforce.
Why We Picked These Gifts: Because ties are yesterday’s news, nobody ever got excited about receiving a ream of copier paper, and those “Hang In There” posters with the cat dangling from the tree branch aren’t as easy to track down as you might imagine.
What You’ll Spend: $36 to $150.
Other Ideas: Office workers looking for ways to get organized would be well-served by any one of nine software bargains available for $70 or less. And Macworld contributing editors Christopher Breen and Adam C. Engst also have some suggestions for the best hardware and software for Mac users working out of their homes.
For people who keep an eye on stock-market trends, local weather, or even the Homeland Security threat-level status, Ambient Devices’ Ambient Orb is the perfect desk accessory. Wireless cellular networks beam the information to the glass orb, which you plug into a regular outlet. The color changes in sync with fluctuations in the data; for example, when you’re tracking the Dow and the market is up, the glass glows green; when it’s down, the color changes to red. But there’s a 20-minute delay for stock-market data, so don’t make trades based on the Orb’s color. Think of it as a mood ring for your life.—PAMELA PFIFFNER
$150 plus $20 quarterly for premium service; Ambient Devices
Silence Is Golden
We all have days when we need to hunker down and shut out the sounds of our coworkers going about—or avoiding—their daily business. The ER-6i, from Etymotic Research, fit in your ears like earplugs to block out noise while providing stunning sound quality, letting you listen to a little Simon and Garfunkel—or to the real sounds of silence.—DAN FRAKES
$149; Etymotic Research
You’re an international spy entering the villain’s headquarters incognito. The guards search you. “She’s clean,” they say. “Nothing but a ballpoint pen.” Minutes later, you slip into the control room, plug your “pen” into a computer’s USB port, and download the bad guy’s plans for world domination. As you leap to freedom through the plate-glass window, you shout, “Thanks for Edge Tech’s 32MB DiskGO USB 2.0 Flash Drive Plus Ink Pen, Q!” ( Editor’s note: also handy for transporting work files and writing nasty notes to the person who’s stealing your lunch from the fridge. )—TERRI STONE
$36; Edge Tech