Macworld's Gift Guide for Grads

Whether your grad is exiting high school or college remind them that it's not all just pomp and circumstance with this selection of potential gifts. There's something for everybody who's about to take their first step into a larger world.


Whether your grad is exiting high school or college, remind them that it's not all just pomp and circumstance with this selection of potential gifts. There's something for everybody who's about to take their first step into a larger world.

TiVo Premiere

We know that sitting on the couch and watching TV shows and movies isn’t the most productive way to spend the day, but after all the grueling schoolwork your kids been through, it may be well deserved. With the TiVo Premiere, you can surf the Web, play music from your computer via your home theater system, record up to 45 hours of HD video, pause live events on television, schedule your shows so they play when you want to watch, and watch movies in HD from providers like Netflix, Blockbuster On Demand, and Amazon Video On Demand. It’s the perfect gift for anyone who wants to unload for the summer and relax in front of the tube ($300; subscription is $13 per month).—Lynn La

Panasonic PT-AX200U Home Theater Projector

You know those gifts that you get for someone else but you know secretly you’ll get a lot of use out of too? Well, if your grad is someone that you live with, consider getting a home theater projector and mooching off its pure cinematic qualities. Host next year’s Super Bowl with the 2000-lumen brightness PT-AX200U home theater projector from Panasonic, and awe as the video games you play look great with Smooth Screen Technology. And with a contrast ratio of up to 6000:1, don’t be surprised if your place (er, your graduate’s place, we mean) suddenly becomes the hot spot for movie night ($2,000).—Lynn La

Sony BDP-S570 Blu-ray Player

Blu-ray players have come a long way over the past few years, adding Wi-Fi, external storage, and now Internet streaming services like Pandora and Netflix. Sony’s BDP-S570 even offers an iPhone/iPod touch remote app and the promise of 3D compatibility down the line. Pair the player with a Netflix subscription, and your grad will have the ability to stream thousands of movies and TV shows right to their TV—and if the film they want isn’t online, Netflix will send it to their door. At the least, it’s a little easier than having to lug around a DVD collection (player $250; Netflix subscriptions start at $9 per month).—Serenity Caldwell

Kensington Dash/Friction Mount, GPS apps

If your child’s planning on taking their car cross-country after graduation, or living in any kind of congested city with a car (say, Los Angeles), navigation and safety are key. So why not hook them up with a good iPhone car mount and accompanying GPS software? A mount like Kensington’s Dash/Friction Mount with Sound Amplified Cradle ($40) is perfect for slightly larger cars; it can be mounted on the dashboard or windshield and counterweights keep the device in place without need for adhesives. It also claims to amplify the sound from the device’s built-in speaker. When it comes to GPS apps, the choices are vast, but we particularly recommend Navigon’s MobileNavigator ($80) or AT&T’s Navigator ($10 per month via cell phone bill).—Serenity Caldwell

Tom Bihn Smart Alec

It’s common for recent grads to spend some time traveling before diving into the daily grind of post-grad life. Whether your gift-getting grad is planning an elaborate trip to Europe, or a simple camping trip in a nearby park, he or she will be well-equipped and well-organized with a Tom Bihn Smart Alec backpack. The Smart Alec features a clean, no-frills exterior, and a spacious, well-organized interior. It boasts heavy duty, splash-proof zippers and has two large side pockets perfect for water bottles, flashlights, or anything else you’d want to keep easily accessible. The bag’s adjustable, well-padded shoulder straps feature removable sternum and waist straps that help distribute the weight of the backpack from your shoulders to other parts of your body—especially useful for bicyclists or hikers. And with 1600 cubic inches of carrying capacity, there should be room for all of your grad’s basic necessities ($130).—David Dahlquist

iHome iA5

In college, catching up on beauty sleep at the expense of class may have been a feasible—if not exactly brilliant—idea, but in the working world, oversleeping is not an option. The iHome iA5 Alarm Clock will ensure that your grad not only wakes up for work on time, but to sweet tunes and a fully-charged iPod or iPhone. iPhone or iPod touch owners can also grab the free iHome+Sleep app, allowing them to customize alarm presets, view weather forecasts, and even get social networking updates delivered when they wake up. It also includes a built-in buzzer and back-up battery, allowing it to still function as an alarm clock without an iPod in its dock or should the power go out ($100).—David Dahlquist

Crutchfield Install Card

Now that your grad is ready to join the working ranks, he or she will have to get used to a daily commute that’s probably longer than walking from the dorm to campus. Assuming your grad doesn’t have a current model car with its own iPod adapter or line-in port, he or she will be forced to use a tape adapter or FM transmitter to hook up an iPod. Neither of these options provide high quality sound—FM transmitters sound especially terrible—so do your grad a favor and get him or her a professional iPod interface installation with the Crutchfield InstallCard. Your grad can take this card to any of over 1,500 InstallCard network locations in the U.S. and redeem it for professional installation of an iPod or MP3 interface adapter into the car’s factory-installed or aftermarket sound system. The end result? Excellent sound quality that far surpasses that of an FM transmitter or tape deck adapter ($80).—David Dahlquist

Sonos ZonePlayer S5

Like shifting from a minimum-wage campus job to a career, the Sonos ZonePlayer S5 is a serious move for your grad’s home audio. It can wirelessly stream music from iTunes, popular music services like Pandora and Sirius, and even Internet radio stations. Audio sounds great through Sonos’s 5-driver speaker system, which should immediately improve upon your grad’s old $15 computer speakers. Sonos ZonePlayers can link with each other for wireless multi-room bliss, and the best part is that it can all be controlled by a free iPhone app ($399).—David Chartier

Viper SmartStart

Whether your college grad is going to stick with their college ride or get a new set of wheels for the real world, you can give them a serious upgrade with a Viper SmartStart System. Like many remote start systems, Viper’s will let your lucky grad lock, unlock, remote start, or simply find their car—but who needs an extra key fob when there’s an app for that? Unlike most other systems, Viper’s can be completely controlled with a free app for iPhone or BlackBerry. In fact, one app can control multiple vehicles, and your grad can secure their SmartStart app with a password for added security ($300 for pre-existing compatible modules; $500 without).—David Chartier

Panasonic Lumix GF1

Arm your grad with a camera that combines the size of a point-and-shoot with the image quality and features of a DSLR. Panasonic's GF1 Micro Four Thirds camera is petite, handsome, and very well-made. For point-and-shoot users, it's a step-up in quality and control. For more serious photographers, it's a refreshingly light tool for those times when packing a full DSLR kit isn't practical. You can change out the camera's lenses, one of which is included in the $900 kit. It even shoots 720p video with mono sound. The retro design doesn't include an optical viewfinder, but you can buy one separately and attach it to the camera's hot shoe mount.—Heather Kelly

Züca Pro

Whether your child is a summer away from going to college or just graduating from those hallowed halls, they’re about to be doing a lot of moving. The Züca Pro, designed originally as a portable, TSA-friendly carry-on bag adapts wonderfully to college and post-college environments. The bags are built to double as seats (supporting up to 300 lbs) for those with little money and space, and the interior contains five cloth drawers for organizing toiletries, supplies, clothes, a full set of computer peripherals, and almost anything else you can think of. When it’s not being used to traverse the country, the bag can double as a piece of furniture, a dresser, or a portable art studio. If you’re looking for something a bit more utilitarian, the company’s original bag, The Züca Sport, ditches the drawers for a more conventional interior and adds an extra set of polyurethane wheels to help on stairs and rough sidewalks (Züca Pro, $285; Züca Sport, $125-$145, depending on colors and style).—Serenity Caldwell

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