This article first appeared in the Cult of Mac Newsstand magazine
Versacover for iPad
$60 — Cases — iPad
The Versacover has two uses. One is to protect and support your iPad Air, offering many, many different ways to prop it up thanks to the origami-like folding front cover, which can be flipped into a large-but-limited number of iPad-bracing shapes.
The other use is to make work for idle hands, in the same way that a Rubik’s Cube used to do back when I was a child. All this and a microfiber lining to keep the screen clean: it’s the perfect Christmas Day accessory.
Rickshaw Bags Sleeves
$40 — Cases — iPad
Protective, cute, and with a furry, plush lining. Am I talking about an animal-shaped oven mitt? Yes, I am. But I could also be talking about the iPad sleeves from Rickshaw, San Francisco’s friendliest bag maker.
The sleeve will fit your iPad whether it has a Smart Cover or not, and can be configured into an almost infinite number of color combos, including some hideous enough to get you to spend $40 perfectly good dollars on somebody you hate.
Kyte & Key Cabelet
$70 — Home — Anything
Kyte & Key’s Cabelet answers the question “How do I stop my man from looking like a stupid dork. I mean how? He wears a USB cable tied around his wrist for chrissake.” No, it’s not a common question, but at least now it has a resolution satisfactory to everyone.
The Cabelet is just that: a cable and a bracelet, cleverly combining stylish apparel with a Lightning cable, all hidden in a twisty leather band until charging time. Everybody’s happy.
Canon Selphy Printer
$99 — Photography — Anything
The little Selphy is a fantastic companion for the iPhone or iPad, although it works just fine with the Mac too (even Lightroom!) It’s a dye-sub printer, which means that it uses gel-like sheets to bond the color onto the paper, resulting in waterproof, colorfast prints. Canon’s app is actually terrible, but it gets the job done, and as it can pull from your camera roll you only need to use it to make the prints, and it’s all done wirelessly.
The pictures are glossy 6x4s, and there’s even a screen so you can hook up a camera or slot in an SD card to print direct. You’ll forget film forever with this thing. In fact, I should probably buy one of these for my mother.
Nomad Mini 2 Brush Stylus
$35 — Photography — iPad
The iPad is fine for finger painting, but like a child who has daubed one too many pictures of mommy, you’ll eventually want to move onto something with a little more control. And to stop drawing pictures of your mother. Who are you, Norman Bates?
And instead of just grabbing a stubby, stiff stylus, you might choose an elegant brush to give to your artistic friends. And the Nomad brushes are pretty great. I’ve used them on iPad’s new and old, mini and fat, retina and non and I like them a lot. It’s not quite the same feeling as using a real brush to splash red “paint” all over the shower, uh, canvas, but it’s as close as you’ll get.
Expodisk White Balance Filter
$50 — Photography — Anything
iPhoto for iPad is pretty great at fixing up pictures, especially when it comes to white balance. But unlike RAW photos (which the iPad doesn’t really support), JPGs don’t take kindly to being jerked around with too much.
Which is why your best friend/family member/spouse will benefit from using the ExpoDisc 2, a hand-tested, optical-quality diffuser which goes over the front of the camera’s lens and lets you take accurate white-balance readings of the light actually falling onto the scene: no more searching for a neutral gray or white wall to set a custom WB ever again.
I have tested the original ExpoDisk and it’s pretty great, really making a difference to the results. You could even use it with the iPhone itself if you have an app that’ll set a custom WB for you.
Why this instead of v1.0? It comes with a set of warming gels, so you can add back a little warmth into your too-accurate photo. Of course, you could do this in post, too, but where’s the fun in that?